Even before Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, a 20-year-old Egyptian college student, posted nude photos of herself on her blog as a protest against the country’s conservative culture, I would have described Egypt as a horridly uptight, erotically repressed country that believes in subjugating and objectifying women. Remember what happened to CBS reporter Lara Logan in Tahrir Square last February, and that the Egyptian men who assaulted her were the alleged good guys — i.e., pro-freedom, pro-Arab Spring, anti-Mubarak.
Since Elmahdy posted the photos earlier this week I’ve been having these thoughts all over again, that Egypt is a sexually constipated hellhole on almost all levels of society, considering all the people who are enraged at Elmahdy and calling for her blood. Egyptian liberals, even, are angry at her because they’re afraid the domestic response to the posting “will hurt them during the country’s parliamentary election next week, the first since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted,” as an 11.17 N.Y. Times story states.
The Times‘ Liam Stack and David D. Kirkpatrick wrote that “it is hard to overstate the shock at an Egyptian woman’s posting nude photographs of herself online in a conservative religious country where a vast majority of Muslim women are veiled and even men seldom bare their knees in public. In Egypt, even kissing in public is taboo.”
Another report stated that “in Egypt most Muslim women wear veils, and even if they don’t, it’s rare to see uncovered arms and legs in public. Many Egyptians say they’re deeply offended by what Elmahdy has done, and yet somehow” — this is key to the discussion — “her NSFW blog ‘A Rebel’s Diary‘ has been viewed 1.5 million times since she published the post earlier this week.”
Elmahdy has written the following explanation/response:
“Try nude models who worked in Fine Art Faculties in the early 1970s, hide all art books and smash naked archaeological statues. Then take off your clothes and look at yourselves in the mirror, then burn your body that you so despise to get rid of your sexual complexes forever, before subjecting me to your bigoted insults or denying my freedom of expression.”