Shifting Dynamics of Safe Spaces for Women in Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary Egypt: A Reflection on the Article, “We are not Women, We are Egyptians”

  • Cherry Muslim UKZN-Howard College


In her article, Nadia Taher (2012) illustrates that, during the Egyptian revolu-tionary protests that took place during January/February 2011, women were accorded an egalitarian and safe space in Tahrir Square, Cairo, as Egyptians. This is affirmed by Egyptian women who stated, “We are not women, we are Egyptians.†For 18 days the women shared the public space with men in protest, demanding social and political transformation from an oppressive regime. No sexual harassment cases were reported during this time – an important fact in a society where, on a daily basis, women are sexually harassed on the streets, depicting an underlying consequence of the patriar-chal domination often informed by a Muslim/Islamic religious interpretation. Yet just a month later, in March 2011, for International Women’s Day, the dynamics shifted (regressed) where safe public spaces for women as revolutionaries and women as women were once again unsafe and Qur’an waving protesting Muftis leading a group of men, insisted that the women’s demands were unjustified and that they “should go back home and to the kitchen.†This article reflects on the concept that women are expected to reimagine their gender to be accorded full recognition, participation, and safety in public spaces from within patriarchal frameworks for a limited time or for specific situations. The article proposes that cyberspace can be an alter-native safe, public space of recognition, participation, and counterpower beyond patriarchal limitations, not only for revolutionary women, but for women per se, yet simultaneously suggesting that, within the post-revolu-tionary Egyptian state, such safety and power are severely censored.


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