CAIRO: Despise Aliya Mahdy or not, she has done what few revolutionaries in Egypt have been able to do: take revolutionary action. Her public display of her naked body in a blog post has seen attacks from the conservative Islamists and the liberals alike. Nudity, especially female nudity, leaves people queasy. Had she been a man, would the reaction have been so virulent against her? Doubtful. The man would likely have been praised for his use of his body as expression. Mahdy, unfortunately, is a woman living in Egypt.
Women are objects in many conservatives’ views. Things that can be owned and used for a man’s pleasure when he desires and when he wants. This is why we have seen the growth of polygamy, the shoving aside of a woman’s ability to choose her life’s goals, and the unending “debate” over the causes of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Whether we agree that one’s body should be a form of protest – which so many of Egypt’s liberals disagree with – is irrelevant. The reality is that Mahdy has been able, with her body, debunk all myths of Egyptian liberalism. Her naked image, which has seen over one million hits, has shown that Egypt is not ready for free expression.