This is a translation of a piece by Dutch journalist Hassnae Bouazza (find her on Twitter, mostly tweeting in Dutch Hassnae) in her magazine Frontaal Naakt (literally, Frontal Naked, an online opinion magazine in Dutch, see FrontaalNaakt on Twitter) commenting briefly on the Twitter drama that ensued after Ahmed Awadalla (3awadalla) sparked a discussion about a young Egyptian woman posting her picture naked online to express her freedom. The article is available here in the original Dutch (the link contains nudity). The translation from Dutch into English is mine and I'm alone responsible for any mistakes in it.
Last week Dubai-based Saudi TV station MBC was the subject of acute embarrassment: The broadcaster forgot to cut a scene from the film “Into the Wild”, and so it happened that the innocent viewers were treated to pair of breasts laid bare. Apologies were issued immediately.
Nudity and shame – they remain and by large, sensitive issues in the Arab world. Sometimes it seems as if the shame is lost to curiosity and indiscretion when it has to do with a total stranger, for example, when it is the hymen of a random young lady.
Since the uprisings in Egypt, an intense discussion rages on whether or not what has taken place is also a disappearance of established norms and values that are held as the standard moral norm. Often videos of scantily dressed women are shared and then, forgiveness from God is asked, to conclude that apparently there’s real freedom before it is even demonstrated and it is such a shame when it is not.
The downfall of dictatorships is for some, oh the horror, identical with sexually liberated woman, but more about this later in a different opinion article. The fact is that the vast majority is these videos above mentioned are old and have nothing to do with the revolution.
What does have to do with the revolution is the naked photo of Egyptian woman Aliaa El Mahdy. El Mahdy, describes herself as ‘secular, liberal, feminist’ (she was also behind the proposal that ‘men should also wear head-covering) vegetarian and individualist Egyptian. In her blog, she published a naked photo of herself in order to express her own freedom.
The reactions were predictable: Some find it courageous and some find it scandalous and say this has nothing to do with freedom at all. Freedom as we know, even in this country (Netherlands) ends where the many taboos and sensibilities of the reactionaries begin. Others fear that the nude photos on El Mahdy’s blog will harm the revolution (see on Twitter, the hashtag #NudePhotoRevolutionary).
Nothing changes in the arrogant gesture of the keyboard masters that whether anonymous or not, work so feverishly to try and downplay the developments in the Arab world. It is only unknown and courageous people like Aliaa El Mahdy, who will care for change."