Wednesday, March 09, 2011


Tahrir. Except for women:
A Million Women March was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in Tahrir Square, to coincide with International Women’s Day. It did not go well.

The men populating the tent city in Tahrir had been gravitating toward the chatting women. They had clearly not checked their Facebook accounts in time to learn of the intended invasion of their informal houses by adamant, outspoken women. What began as a casual, curious eavesdropping soon turned into a series of confrontations.
The men were particularly incensed at the notion that a woman could be President of Egypt. It was, they argued, against a hadith which states that men should not take orders from women. “Don’t you obey your mother?” wondered a colleague of mine, an Egyptian whose style of dress often causes her to be mistaken for a foreigner. “I obey religion,” he replied.

Shades of the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and others. Women in authority? God forbid said Paul.

All over the square, women who were on their own were standing firmly in large clusters of angry men, voicing their demands. I asked a red-faced young man why he was tearing up signs and fliers. “Because this is my country. You are not Egyptian,” he said. “You don’t understand.” Another man, hearing our discussion, put it more gently: “Women have some rights already. Right now, it’s not very important. It will happen eventually.” A passing woman shouted, “You have no right to say that! We have different salaries at work. It is very painful.” People began to close in as the two argued, until one woman was arguing with twenty men for her right, basically, to argue at all.

When I left, at 5:45, the confrontations were still mostly verbal. Later, though, reports came in of women being harassed or attacked, and pushed from the square. It’s hard to see how, at this moment, anyone would blame that sort of violence on pro-Mubarak thugs. Mubarak is gone. Misogyny might be a tougher foe.

Read it all.

Two twitter feeds to follow: Pakinam and Voice, and!/Women4Democracy



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