Egypt: veils and gays; nudity and women rights


Veils around me still seem frustrating. I believe that women here don’t really have a choice and oftentimes they chose to wear a veil because it is easier and more acceptable in the society. There is a common belief that veils prevent you from being harassed on the streets- wrong assumption, even women wearing all black and covering their faced get sexually harassed here. Yet, they say it is their choice. Well let it be so.

I never really understood the whole double standard thing in most of world religions: there are more restrictions imposed on women rather than on men regarding the behavioral code, dressing standards and many other things. According to the Russian orthodoxy women are not allowed to go to a church without a headscarf or anything covering their hair. In Islam women are supposed to wear veils and cover their bodies. To be honest men are also obliged to cover themselves, but they are not supposed to wear veils. It is not nice to show your knees, that’s why shorts are not very popular here.

However, the perception is shifting, and some people (women to be precise) also do not support the idea of women wearing veils. One of the most recent online campaigns is aimed at challenging men, practically asking them: how does it feel to wear a veil? Some activists made men pose in veils and uploaded their pictures online. I personally don’t really get the message. Why should someone make men wear a veil for 5 mins just to take a picture and then take it off? I suppose the larger effect can be achieved if men [imagine!] wore it for one day and went [let’s say] to work like this! Now THAT would be a scandal!

a veiled man

Well the scandal is coming up this January. An LGBT group of Egypt [yes, there is one] is wishing to march on Tahrir on Jan 01. Apparently they have chosen this particular day since less people would be present on the square. Some of them will massive hangover after the New Year’s Eve Celebration. However, the chances of LGBTs being beaten up are pretty strong, and it is sad. LGBTs were never openly present in the society. Homosexuality is rather considered some sort of a weird disease or a sickness. Therefore a lot of people have to suppress their nature. Well LGBT community was a apart of the revolution and now they want to be present in the society – which is not surprising.

The National Egyptian Gays Day

However, it seems to me that sexual revolution in this country is inevitable. Another Muslim girl provoked online public by posing nude and uploading her nude pictures on her personal blog. Well it would not be a surprise in some other societies, but not here. Here it was a clear protest against the machism. At the same time the girl did not do anything new. And relativist judgments, such as” it is “unacceptable” and is “inappropriate” in certain societies is a total biggest crap. We all are human beings, we live in the same word. These things are universal. And there is nothing wrong in nudity.

Like one of my friends would say: “in my humble opinion “I see the biggest problem in mothers who raised lazy ass boys, who have no idea how to cook, clean the house, do their own laundry, be on their own and respect women’s freedom and independence. Mothers pass their precious sons to wives, who are supposed to do the same: clean, cook, do the laundry, plus: provide sex services and go to work, earn some money in the meantime. It is a sick vicious circle. And besides, a woman should be noble here. Unless women realize these things themselves – nothing will be changed. Us women should believe in ourselves more and not let masculinity dominate over us.


About Masha Egupova

I am coming from the small city on the Russian Far East called Vladivostok, but Chinese call it 海參崴 [Hǎishēnwǎi] meaning "Sea Cucumber Cliffs." In my blog I will present the view from and about Vladivostok and my views on what is going on in Russia in general.

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