Aliaa Elmahdy: I am nude, I am woman, but we are not free.
Typically, I only write a post on Gumbomonster once a week. Between school and traveling to school, I just don’t have enough time to put in quality work for people to read. Every now and then though, I come across stories that I just can’t pass up. I end up wanting to know more about a particular issue, which makes me want to share what i learned with you. My first big post was on Amber Cole, a 14 year old who was the focus of a viral video that showed her giving a blow job to an older man. My second most popular and most well written story was of 5 white sorority students from USM that showed their admiration for the Cosby family by dressing in blackface, with afro wigs, and black hands. The third story that really inspired me to write a post discusses a specific, foreign situation of worldly issues. The issues are sexuality and sexism. The story is on Aliaa Magda Elmahdy.
Who is Aliaa Elmahdy? She is a 20 year old Egpyptian university student who posted a naked picture of herself online. Her decision to post the picture was to express her opposition toward “a society where women are nothing but sex objects harassed on a daily basis by men who know nothing about sex or the importance of a woman.” ——— I had no intention on writing a post on this story. I’m being 100% honest here. All I wanted to see was the original, uncensored naked picture. I’m sure some of yall did the same when that Chris Brown naked pic leaked or when that Drake, Take Care leaked as well. So, I went to google and typed in searches like “egpytian activist nude pic, Aliaa Magda Elmahdy blog, uncensored nude pic egyptian blogger” and so on.
As I searched, I ran across tons of links, all showing only censored and cropped forms of the picture. I even came across a youtube vid talking about the story in hopes to find a link in the vid description that would take me to her blog; no results.
My last search was “Aliaa Magda Elmahdy blog link” and as I strolled down to the bottom of the search results page, I saw a link that looked like it could be the direct link to her blog. I wasn’t sure because the title was in another language; I assumed it was Egyptian. I also assumed Egyptian was a language.
I clicked on the link and there it was. The picture I had been searching for.
Fulll picture uncensored picture here
- Edited picture provided by- http://www.dailymail.co.uk
At first glance, the most notable thing about the picture is her face. She’s cute but serious. Though the photo is black and white, her determined, proud stare into the camera makes me feel her seriousness. I feel like her eyes are telling me that she has meaning to her actions. Her eyes are also telling me, I am human and believe in me.
The second most noticeable feature is the size of her breasts vs. the size of her areolas. Her breast are small but her areolas are medium size which give higher sexuality to her body. Not all women realize how men love bigger areolas because we see that feature as unique and rare.
The third noticeable thing is her vagina. Her moderate amount of pubic hair represents femininity while the visibility of her labia majora (outter lips) expresses the power of her sexuality. Red is the only color that is left visible in this black and white photo. Red can easily represent evil, as in bad or it could represent existence, “I AM HERE, I AM WOMAN.” It also could represent where the “blood” or life of her actions are focused on; the red near her thoughts and the red near on feet to represent her action to stand for something.
———————— After actually finding the photo, I felt satisfied. I found the pic, I saw the pic, now I can watch a movie on netflix. Before I even searched for a netflix movie, I continued looking into issues surrounding the picture.
First off, I wanted to know what language I was reading. The blog was in English but all the comments on her blog were in the same language as the title of her blog. I did some google searches and found that Egyptian Arabic is the most common language in Egypt. I assumed I was looking at Egyptian Arabic.
After finding that out, I wondered what was the difference between Islamic and Muslim. I thought both words were interchangeable terms for one religion. At the same time, i thought both words were different so I looked up this information as well. Muslim is to Christian as Islam is to Christianity. In short, Islam is a religion as is Christianity. This means you can be of a different race or ethnicity but still be a Muslim who is a follower of Islam.
————————- After learning that, I wanted to know Aliaa’s own thoughts on her actions. I clicked on a google link to CNN.com and found a story where Aliaa was interviewed. Here are some highlights of her interview.
Full interview here
After reading the interview, I respected the words and better understood the actions of this woman. Though she is 20yrs old, I’m more than sure the reality of a woman’s life and role in society becomes immediately apparent in an Islamic state. “Women under Islam will always be objects to use at home. The (sexism) against women in Egypt is unreal…” She even went as far to say, “I am a believer of every word I say and I am willing to live in danger under the many threats I receive in order to obtain the real freedom all Egyptians are fighting and dying for daily.” ———————– So yes, she is young, but she is aware of her actions, the reasons for her actions, and the consequences of her actions. This awareness makes some call her brave and other call her stupid. Here’s what comments said.
The user “Aucausin” has been commenting constantly on each comment about this story since it was posted on CNN.com. She truly feels that Aliaa has hurt the cause for women’s freedom in Islamic societies vs. helped the cause. She also just believes that Aliaa simply wanted attention.
Someone like “Aucausin” will remain very narrow minded in what and how things are done even if they aren’t against a particular issue. We can see the same thing when people generalize anyone associated with the Occupy movement as lazy, unproductive, aimless beggers who break the law and should be peppered spray daily, directly in the iris of their eyes. Someone like the user “lilHobo” will be more open minded in the fact that people have different reactions and solutions to the same problem. One point I really disagree on from “Aucausin” is when she says,
“…she’s just making the people of Egypt think that:women once given basic rights will be immoral. She played right into their hand.” ———– The problem with this statement is that women are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they displayed the behavior that men have required of them for so long, they are patted on the head while suffering sexual and emotional suppression through male oppression. If a woman expresses how she truly feels, it’s considered “immoral” and is most likely punishable by law and/or domestically by male violence . —————- “The Islamic Penal Codes are based on violence in its most primitive forms. These not only authorize organised state violence, but encourage male violence against women within the family and in society.” http://www.iran-bulletin.org/political_islam/punishmnt.html ———————– To add to the idea that self expression is perceived as opposition to the way things are, read this story on CNN.com about the “virginity test” performed on women who were involved in the March 9th protest in Tahrir square that led to the resignation of then president Hosni Mubarak. I had no idea about this happening until I read the story on Aliaa Elmahdy. Reading the story on the virginity test make me respect Aliaa’s need to openly express herself. Yes, nudity in many cases is still seen as taboo but many people can easily focus on the nudity and not the solid reasoning behind the nudity.
“Virginity test” link http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/05/31/egypt.virginity.tests/index.html/
Freedom and the pleasure of being different are two qualities I can heavily understand Aliaa having. My definiton of freedom is the ability to exist comfortably and confidently with what I want to do without being restrained by what others think I should or have to do. With my definition of freedom, finding pleasure in being different is a necessity. How can you know who you are if you never try to discover who you really are and not who others want you to be? Here’s one last screen capture of a comment posted on CNN.com. It illustrates the idea that society ultimately determines what is acceptable and what isn’t. It also illustrates how that determination evolves over time. Maybe it’s that evolution of determination that has most people scared or condemning the behavior of Aliaa Magdad Elmahdy.