Public Feminism, Female Shame, and Sexual Violence in Modern Egypt
Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
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AbstractThis paper examines the interconnections between public sexual violence, female shame, and public feminism in modern Egypt. It connects aspects of public sexual violence against women generally and politicized sexual violence in 21st-century Egypt in particular, arguing that successive political regimes in Egypt produce and maintain a spatial culture of humiliation and inferiorization as a political tool of silencing, and oppressing women and opposition. This culture of humiliation and inferiorization is premised upon media-oriented female shame ideas that relate and condemn female sexuality and public participation, establishing the public space as militarized, dangerous and exclusive. This paper attempts to assess the successes and failures of public feminism in Egypt in addressing such politicized culture of female humiliation and isolation in public spaces, with a particular focus on fighting politicized forms of sexual violence directed against women in post-2011 revolutionary Egypt. It argues further that sexual violence against women and the repression of public feminism in Egypt are parts of the failure of the processes of democratic transition, state formation and of the survival of socio-economic and cultural hierarchy and vulnerability in modern Egypt. The paper maintains that Egyptian women’s remarkable and solid public activism during and after 2011-revolution shows them as able to invade the exclusive public spaces and hence are able to create new spaces of female resistance and new forms of public mobilization in the country.