20-year-old Egyptian blogger Aliaa Magda Elmahdy wants to change that. Last month, she started a new Google blog, called "Nude Art" which features full-frontal nudes of herself and an unidentified male, as well as a cat and some artsy underwear and embrace shots.
They're not great art shots. They look like 1940s amateur pornography. But like that, what they do have is a certain authentic and defiant naïveté from someone who wants to own her own body in a culture than denies that freedom. The most political of the pictures features self-censorship: “The yellow rectangles on my eyes, mouth and sex organ resemble the censoring of our knowledge, expression and sexuality,” she explained.
|“I have the right to live freely in any place… I feel happy and self satisfied when I feel that I’m really free,” she said.|
Nothing particularly shocking to jaded Western internet eyes. But in Egypt, where the post-Tahir atmosphere is one of increasingly conservative religious influence, this is practically treason.
The responses on the blog on Twitter (#nudephotorevolutionary) are in both English and Arabic. One negative comment is translated as “a desperate act of social political suicide by a young woman”. And another: “We are defending secularism from innuendos & then we get this #NudePhotoRevolutionary Stop shocking people to the point of repulsion.”
But the comments also show that there is a new generation, globally informed, who want more than an end to political oppression. They want total freedom. Said one English commenter:
"I'm very impressed and inspired by your courage. The revolution in Egypt needs to be a catalyst for greater freedom of expression. If somebody wants to wear a hijab they should be free to do so without facing discrimination but you must also be able to express yourself any way you choose without fear. It's your body and it's entirely up to you how you choose to express yourself."Is this how a sexual revolution begins?
Link and Arabic translations via Almasri Ayoum
Tip via FEMEN