January 13, 2013
Stockholm, Sweden, December 20, 2012— Aliaa Magda Elmahdy stood naked but for an Egyptian flag held behind her with the words “Sharia is Not a Constitution” written in red marker on her skin. She was flanked by two women from FEMEN, a feminist group founded in Kiev in 2008. The women of FEMEN were also naked and covered with black marker speaking out against Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi. The three gathered to protest the voting on the draft constitution that included the laws of Sharia in it.
I do not profess to understand the intricacies of this complex political situation. I am interested, as most people are, on the attention, influence, and impact of an unclothed young woman reclaiming her body before the world in a culture that hides women under the veil. I am interested in what feminism means today, in a culture where it can incite death threats on a daily basis.
I am not the only one. Over the past few weeks, my stats have soared. Everyone wants to sneak a peek at Aliaa, but to what end, I will never know. I have wanted to address this, address the voyeurs. Wanted to go beyond the surface and into the dark and murky waters where few dare to go.
I have been following her blogs over the past year, and in light of the gang rapes in India, I was moved to share a story that a reader had sent to Aliaa, who posted it on Echoing Screams back in October. I reprint it here in full.