I want to walk safely and like a human being


The BBC looks at the joys of being a woman in Cairo.

Said Sadek, a sociologist from the American University in Cairo, says that the problem is deeply rooted in Egyptian society: a mixture of what he calls increasing Islamic conservatism, on the rise since the late 1960s, and old patriarchal attitudes.

“Religious fundamentalism arose, and they began to target women. They want women to go back to the home and not work.

“Male patriarchal culture does not accept that women are higher than men, because some women had education and got to work, and some men lagged behind and so one way to equalise status is to shock women and force a sexual situation on them anywhere.”

In other words, it’s hostile, and meant to suppress and subordinate.

For women – like Nancy, who lives in central Cairo – it is a question of freedom.

“I want to walk safely and like a human being. Nobody should touch or harass me – that’s it.”

That is, indeed, exactly it.

Comments

  1. Rrr says

    For women – like Nancy, who lives in central Cairo – it is a question of freedom.

    “I want to walk safely and like a human being. Nobody should touch or harass me – that’s it.”

    That is, indeed, exactly it.

    YES! Stop harassers. Civilisation described in two words. OK, the recipe can be somewhat expanded, but that is the core, isn’t it?

  2. Emu Sam says

    Civilization is massive cooperation to guard against threats human and nonhuman. Originally, nonhuman came first. When did it change?

  3. Rrr says

    @Emu Sam: Why does it matter? More than harassment of women (and others who fall outside “the norm”?

    When did it change?

  4. says

    The article does expose the excuse of women dressing provocatively as the absurdity it is. Calling a tight fitting niqab a provocation is idiotic. If all the women in Cairo start wearing loose niqabs then there will be some other excuse.

  5. callistacat says

    “…one way to equalise status is to shock women and force a sexual situation on them anywhere.”

    This is terrorism, plain and simple. For people like Steven Pinker who sneer at the idea that rape and the threat of rape is a way to terrorize women and don’t believe that rape is about power, not sex, here’s more proof that you are WRONG.

  6. Ray Moscow says

    It’s definitely gotten worse since the ‘revolution’.

    A friend’s daughter, at some personal risk, marched in the protests that overthrew the previous government. And this is what she gets.

    But even before the revolution, women had nothing like equal status. They can’t own, or even rent, their own property without a male family member’s approval.

    Women do occupy some important positions in government-owned companies, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see this change for the worse.

  7. mildlymagnificent says

    Long, long before the revolution, I remember reading an item in a UK paper. A young Egyptian woman was in London. She’d been told all her life that women shouldn’t dress in revealing or provocative clothes.

    And there she was in a park with dozens of women running in shorts and bare midriffs or just enjoying some sunny weather in halter-neck tops and short skirts ….. yet no-one was cat-calling or whistling or hassling them! She’d been hassled and groped all her life in Egypt even though she’d always obeyed the rules about dressing ‘modestly’. A very abrupt awakening that this was not about how women dress. It’s about what men think and how men behave.

  8. says

    YES! Stop harassers. Civilisation described in two words. OK, the recipe can be somewhat expanded, but that is the core, isn’t it?

    I think that the only expansion you need (assuming harassment includes all levels of severity up to lethal violence) is to add ‘and cheats’. Civilization is basically about reducing/eliminating interpersonal violence and fraud and alleviating the effects of natural disasters.

  9. Sally Strange says

    Freedom from harassment is a fundamental human right.

    Women should be free to use public spaces without fear of harassment.

    Women should be free to take any job they are offered without fear of harassment.

    That is all.

    Well, of course it applies to all human beings as well. But since we’re focused for the moment on women…

  10. No Light says

    Being a wheelchair user, after years of walking, has been a revelation. No more harassment, in fact, most men go out of their way to be helpful.

    That is, to me, proof positive that harassment is about controlling women via sexual threat, breaking their nerve so that they’re less powerful.

    As a cripple I’m viewed as non-sexual and not threatening or intimidating to men, so I’m treated well. Which is hilarious, as I’m one of those evil radfems!*

    It really has shown me, especially given some of the reactions I used to get for daring to be visibly gay, that the way men intend to subjugate women is a) sexual terrorism and b) to be needed as protection from group a.

    *I’m a radfem who believes that every woman deserves equality, as a house divided cannot stand. No transphobic bullshit, no looking down on mothers, no assertions of privilege within the ranks. If my house is on fire I need water, and I don’t care whether it’s Perrier, pond water, salt water, or rain – as long as it’s wet, it works to douse the flames.

  11. steve oberski says

    As a runner I have a heuristic test that I apply when I visit a new city: are there unaccompanied women running after dark ?

    Stockholm passed with flying colours (based on 1 week in the core old city).

    My home town of Toronto has many areas where sadly this is not the case.

    None of the US cities that I have visited (New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles) have passed this test.

    It was hard to tell in China, in the 2 weeks I was there I only ever saw one runner (male) in Beijing.

  12. Godless Heathen says

    @steve-

    interesting… I moved about a month ago and at some point after that started running after dark so I could have social commitments and still get my run in.

    I’m a woman and I run alone. So, if you’re ever running in the area I’m running in, I guess DC would pass your test. Although I’m hyperaware when I run after dark and I’m never like that during the day. Also, I didn’t see many other women doing that. Lots of men, though.

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