Drag me, strip me, my brothers’ blood will cover me!” they chanted. “Where is the field marshal?” they demanded, referring to Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the military council holding onto power here.
“The girls of Egypt are here.”
The event may have been the biggest women’s demonstration in Egypt’s history [Source]
One woman sends a message to SCAF in response to the iconic image that captured a female protester being stomped on while her abaya was pulled off, exposing her blue bra.
“Fuck you, SCAF” she is saying (inside my head).
The threat of violence, the rape culture we live in, the gendered nature of sexual violence all work to police women’s equality, autonomy and sexuality.
When I say ‘rape is a gendered crime’, I do not mean that men don’t get raped. They do. And these narratives are certainly critical to our understanding of sexual violence. But what is indisputable is that all over the world, in any given community — being female is a risk factor for rape and other forms of sexual violence.
Sexual violence is a potent threat used to yield power and terrorize women. While few of us have had to endure being stomped on by military army boots, as women all of us understand the power of that threat. This is why the tens of thousands of women who marched the streets of Cairo this week had their anger reverberate in solidarity throughout the world.
How dare they reduce an activist in the revolution to the color of her bra!
I would have liked to title this post “Slutwalk meets the Egyptian Revolution”, but I did not want to even suggest or risk a perception of disrespect (or minimizing) of these brave women. (I also didn’t want to haphazardly lump all women’s movements together).
But I think this comparison is still a useful framework. Slutwalk, at its core, is about reclaiming our identities despite what we choose to wear on our bodies. And for me (and others) it is a movement that defies threats of sexual violence by resisting the policing of women’s sexual behavior.
I have a feeling the woman pictured above would fundamentally understand this spirit.
In his post, Ahmed Awadalla does a wonderful job of chronicling moments in the Egyptian women’s movement that have ignited its own feminist revolution — from SCAF’s virginity tests to Aliaa El Mahdy’s nude online display of defiance. Go read.
It is amazing how women’s bodies have such a revealing effect. They can show exactly where people stand on matters like freedom, autonomy and shame. Women’s bodies have been the battlefront of so many battles before and will continue to be, but the hypocrisy it reveals never ceases to be powerful.
My thoughts, my heart and my deep respect are with the women of Egypt.
For more images, go here.