A twenty-year-old feminist has uploaded nude pictures of herself to her blog, as a protest and a statement of autonomy and sexuality. This would be unremarkable if it were not that this young lady is an Egyptian, living in Egypt, and now faces five years in jail for it. (Link to CNN.com article, no nudity visible)
In a Western context, I am at best ambivalent about the value of posing nude as a feminist statement. The nude female body is considered a commodity, valuable or useless, and it is not easy for the woman who poses to assert her full humanity to the Western viewer. (Observe, in the CNN article’s comments, the American gentleman who dismisses her with “a disgusting rack and cottage cheese thighs.”)
Here, though, as a citizen of a Muslim country, Elmahdy has truly risked everything in order to do this and to say: I do not belong to a man, I am under no man’s protection. The hope and defiance in her eyes means more than anything she has below the shoulders.
(I still don’t think it’s a very good likeness, though, but I’d be here all night if I had to fix it.)