Here I want to quote few passages of one of my articles, I wrote with respect to clarify my ideas on Aliaa Magda Elmahdy.
< An Excerpt from my essay ‘The Aliaa Effect’>
“Besides the question of women’s rights over their own body and the freedom of self-expression, Aliaa raises two major points in her posts and interviews. One is about the use of the veil and another on the virginity test. On the veil, she comments many women wear it just to escape the harassment and be able to walk the streets in peace.
Sexual harassment is a serious problem in Egypt. According to a 2008 survey conducted by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, 83 percent of Egyptian women have been sexually harassed (Source: Johnston, “Two-thirds of Egyptian men harass women?”; see also Magdi Abdelhadi, “Egypt’s sexual harassment ‘cancer,’” BBC News, July 18, 2008, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7514567.stm.) However, it cannot be assumed that all women in Egypt are wearing the veil for this one reason. By connecting sexual harassment and the veil, Aliaa gives the impression that the veil is strongly associated with oppression.
Maybe not, though. In some countries, veils are used as a protest. In Europe, where wearing the Islamic veil (hijab/niqab) is banned, women protest wearing it. In Libya, under former ruler Muammar Qaddafi, the Niqab was banned. According to a report from The Economist, women across Libya are now celebrating over the restoration of their right to wear it. In contrast to Aliaa undressing herself in search of freedom of expression, some Libyan women want to dress and wear such clothing to feel themselves in real freedom and real expression in what they believe. What would Aliaa and her boyfriend say? What could they say? Is this not freedom of expression too?
And about virginity test in Egypt, the Human Rights Commission is still probing the cases continuously performing the Military-style brutal test to insert two fingers into vaginas of women to test their virginity in and after Mubarak’s reign. During an interview with CNN, in May, a SCAF general, talking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged the army had conducted "virginity tests." "We didn't want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren't virgins in the first place," he said. "The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine. These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and [drugs].” ( Source: http://uk.ibtimes.com/articles/246877/20111110/egypt-virginity-tests-used-military-humiliate-women.htm). It is true to believe that the military authority who believes in virginity test has no right to raise a question on the grounds of morality?
Aliaa’s Actions: a Help or Hindrance
But do Aliaa’s actions support or hinder a healthy debate on the sexual rights of women?
Sexual rights are often misunderstood and wrongly defined either by feminists or by activists. What do you want to mean by woman’s right on own body? Is ‘body’ an alternate term for ‘sex’ or ‘sexual object?’
Is a ‘woman’s body’ inherently sexual, and can it be used to define any object subjected for passionate feelings only? Is there no need of correlating hunger, sufferings, pain, and shame with that object? Women's bodies are always the issue - too unclean for Hindus, dangerous enough to be covered up for Muslims, and obscured for Christians. We should be more cautious about differentiating these terms carefully. Otherwise there may be every possibility for women to become and remain tools of oppression.
Patriarchal practices shape and perpetuate gender inequality and strip women of any form of control over their sexuality. It is double standard of patriarchy that when it needs to, it allows a woman to disrobe and we can see how the grammar of fine arts are created with the patriarchy accepted social standards of aesthetics and modesty/morality. We see how mythologies played a significant role in focusing a philosophical attitude toward sex. Even the patriarchal effect has been prominent when we find Shakti, the female god is painted with her nudity. When Aliaa disrobes herself, it is patriarchy which shouts with a hefty voice raising the question of morality. But what about other events like fashion shows, beauty contests, or bar girl dances in restaurants and clubs? Morality, in the case of female sexuality, has often been misused or used intentionally to oppress feminine rights and always used by patriarchy as a tool to oppress women.
British feminist and goddess activist Asphodel P. Long (1921-2005) often considered the grandmother of the Goddess Movement in Great Britain once wrote something which can apply to Aliaa’s recent activities. She wrote, “Freud is said to have asked: "What do women want?" Women know what they want. Their difficulty, which is mine, is to find words to describe, and to produce ideas acceptably. Not because we are "silly" but because words and ideas have grown over the last 5,000 years in a patriarchal setting, and describe what men want. Every word, sentence and set of ideas is painful to write, is open to misinterpretation, certainly by men.” (source: http://www.asphodel-long.com/html/politics_of_sexuality.html).
It is explainable why Aliaa did what she did. What she couldn’t do with words, she did with her actions. She boldly spoke volumes using the power of an image -- something to which everyone can relate and understand no matter where they live or what they do or in what they believe.”
Readers can read the full article from http://feminine-fragrance.blogspot.in/2011/11/aliaa-effect-try-models-who-posed-naked.html
In continuation with my last status update posting on Amina’s nude protest, I drag the attention of my readers to few less discussed news of India.
<Nude protest is not new news for India.>
A dozen “women” went “naked” on the streets of Imphal on July 15, 2004 intending to protest against the brutal killing of Manorama at the gate of 17 Assam Rifles (Kangla Gate) in the capital town - Manorama was killed by the personnel of 17 AR personnel of Indian Army.
Stung by the continuing abduction of children by separatists in Manipur, a group of school students stripped and marched on the streets in Imphal on July 28, 2008, Monday to protest the rebels’ drive to forcibly induct child soldiers.
On March 7, 2013, a few women staged a semi-nude protest against land acquisition for Posco’s proposed steel plant in Odisha, and were arrested, after which the land acquisition was halted.
It’s an amazing fact to mark that patriarchy appreciates the women as celebrities who are appearing nude on the covers of the magazines and disapproves those who are using this nudity as an action to show their anguish to irritate the system. A woman’s naked body has always been the instrument of the patriarchy.
And also this is a magnum point to be considered: Are the protestors’ breasts not obscuring the message they intend to convey as their such shows are meant for press and online media only and most of the users of U Tube visit those sites to access porno videos?