Aliaa Maghda El-Mahdy, a 20-year-old dissident from Cairo, describes herself as a secular liberal feminist vegetarian individualist Egyptian. A college student, an atheist, and a blogger. Her latest act of political rebellion has set off a
firestorm in Egypt and in the Twitterverse of Arab dissidents.
In one of the nude self-portraits she posted this week on her blog, A Rebels Diary
, which has received more than a million page views, she faces the camera wearing just a red ribbon in her hair, thigh-high tights, and red ballet flats.
I took my nude photo myself in my parents' home, she writes. The same photo appears on her blog a second time, now with a yellow rectangle covering her crotch. The yellow rectangles on my eyes, mouth and sex organ resemble the censoring
of our knowledge, expression and sexuality, she writes.
Mahdy's rebellious act 'shocked' a whole range of people in Egypt, from devout Muslims to members of the youth movement. According to the website cyberdissidents.org, she has received thousands of threatening comments since the publication
of the nude photos, the purpose of which was challenging her community to restrict her freedom.
Mahdy doesn't care. I have the right to live freely in any place, she writes on her blog. She is using all the weapons in her arsenal to protest a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy. A staunch critic
of Islamic extremism and the puritanical censorship that accompanies it, she is advocating a freedom revolution in Egypt, just as the pro-freedom forces of the Arab Spring are being overwhelmed by staunch Islamists.
Student, atheist and blogger, Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, 20, posted naked pictures of herself on her blog to show her screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy . Showing her body particularly at a time
when Islamists in Egypt are trying to secure power is the ultimate act of rebellion. Don't forget Islamists despise nothing more than a woman's body. In case you didn't know, women are the source of corruption and chaos and must be covered up at
all times and not seen and not heard.
The Islamists in Egypt, for example, have replaced the photos of their female candidates with flowers and covered up a statue of mermaids in Alexandria. They have refused to appear face-to-face with female TV hosts, unless the presenter put on a
headscarf or a barrier was placed between the two!
Elmahdy's blogger boyfriend Kareem Amer (who by the way spent four years in jail for calling Mubarak a symbol of tyranny) posted on Facebook: I think we should not be afraid of those in power or Islamists, as much as we should be worried of
politicians claiming to be liberal. They are ready to sacrifice us to avoid tarnishing their image.
Now do you really need any more reasons for defending Aliaa Magda Elmahdy unconditionally?
Forty Israeli women posed discreetly nude in support of a young female Egyptian blogger who drew criticism and threats for posting a naked photo of herself to protest against the limits of free speech in her country. The organizer of the Israeli
event says she wanted to show support for women like Egyptian activist Aliaa Elmahdy, and show the world a good reason to see the unique beauty of Israeli women. Or Tepler explained to YNet News:
Regardless of whether they are Jewish, Arab, straight or Lesbian -- because here, as of now, it doesn't matter. ... Let us show the doubters that our international discourse doesn't depend on governments,
Tepler organized the event on Facebook. The participants were photographed holding a sign saying Love without Limits, and Homage to Aliaa Elmahdi. Sisters in Israel.
A young woman in Egypt whose free soul might better have been born in Berkley rather than Cairo, was crucified in Tahrir Square this week by men who identified her as the nude activist blogger who has taken a stand against rampant sexism in
this mostly Muslim country.
Easily spotted and vulnerable, Aliaa Elmahdy, was targeted, bound, and drug through the crowd of demonstrators in Egypt. However she is taken to what appears to be a medical team and it seems clear from the video that those personnel, male and
female, began protecting her as soon as she was delivered to them, I hope that is the case.
Thousands of Egyptians erupted in anger over the nude photos of Aliaa that have been stirring controversy in this ancient place for more than a month.
The Nude Photo Revolutionaries Calendar was launched on 8 March 2012, International Women's Day, in homage to Egyptian atheist, student and blogger Aliaa Magda Elmahdy who posted a nude photo of herself, announcing the post on Twitter under the hashtag,
The calendar is the idea of campaigner Maryam Namazie to support Aliaa Magda Elmahdy and join her screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy . Namazie says:
What with Islamism and the religious right being obsessed with women's bodies and demanding that we be veiled, bound, and gagged, nudity breaks taboos and is an important form of resistance.
The calendar is designed by SlutWalk Co-founder Toronto, Sonya JF Barnett who says:
I felt that women needed to stand in solidarity with Aliaa. It takes a lot of guts to do what she did, and the backlash is always expected and can quite hurtful. She needed to know that there are others like her, willing to push the envelope to express
Others who join the scream include mother and daughter Anne Baker and Poppy Wilson St James, teacher Luisa Batista, We are Atheism Founder Amanda Brown, atheist bloggers Greta Christina and Emily Dietle, FEMEN activist Alena Magelat, photographer
Mallorie Nasrallah, actress Cleo Powell, freethinker Nina Sankari , writer Saskia Vogel, and mother Maja Wolna. The women are photographed by Julian Baker, Adam Brown, Grzegorz Brzezicki, Lucy Fox-Bohan, Agnieszka Hodowana, Ben Hopper, N. Maxwell Lander,
Mallorie Nasrallah, Mark Neurdenburg, Vitaliy Pavlenko, and Michael Rosen.
On nudity and the calendar, Mallorie Nasrallah says:
When a tool of oppression can be turned in to an assertion of power, it is a beautiful thing. Nudity when celebrated harms no one, and when made shameful and barbaric harms everyone. Nina Sankari says: In solidarity with Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, I would like
to stress that our bodies (and thoughts) belong to us and to nobody else. Anne Baker says Men in frocks constrain, control and intimidate women the world over in the name of God ... it has to stop. Greta Christina says: Sexual freedom is an important
freedom --- but it's one that commonly gets ignored or trivialized. Maja Wolna says: Irrespective of sex, sexual orientation, religion or culture we are equal. Personal dignity is a foundation of human civilization. Amanda Brown says: Dogma will never
determine where I sit, what I wear, or how I live and Poppy Wilson St. James says: I find it strange that it is more acceptable to seen on screen violence and guns than even a nipple. There is something wrong with our mindset if that is what we accept as
the norm and shy away from nudity which is a completely natural state.
Saskia Vogel says:
This calendar hopefully will reach people who are uncomfortable with empowered female nudity, and encourage them to reconsider their feelings about the nude figure. Luisa Batista says: I think the calendar is important, because it may help to open
people's eyes and hearts. Women -- and men -- who are afraid, may find courage and feel supported by the quotes and faces and bodies of the people in the calendar.
According to Emily Dietle, If it weren't for people who took a strong stand against misogyny and for free-expression, we'd still be in an age where showing your ankles was taboo. Alena Magelat says: Our naked body is our challenge to
patriarchy, dictatorship and violence. Smart people we inspire; dictators are horrified .
The women in the calendar stand firm in solidarity with Aliaa Magda Elmahdy and the countless women across the world who are denied basic rights, freedoms and dignity.
Join the Scream on Facebook and on Twitter under the hashtag #NudePhotoRevolutionary.
The NSWP was established in 1990, as an informal, sex worker-led network, to advance male, female and transgender sex workers' human rights and health, and influence policies worldwide. They have built a community and are leaders among sex
workers. They facilitated the development of many regional sex work projects. The NSWP participation in the global response to HIV/AIDS was largely responsible for the term sex worker replacing prostitute in many languages,
lessening stigma and encouraging pride in the work. They are based in Edinburgh. www.nswp.org
Runner Up: Aliaa Magda Elmahdy (Egypt)
Student, atheist and blogger, Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, posted nude pictures of herself on her blog to show her screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy . Sharing and embracing her body, her
femininity, particularly at a time when Islamists in Egypt are trying to secure power, was the ultimate act of rebellion. Today, the nude pictures have been taken down but their powerful ripple, a fist upwards to freedom, remains.
Runner Up: Megan Andelloux (USA)
Megan is the founder and director of The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health in Pawtucket, RI. It is a sexuality resource centre designed to provide adults with a safe, physical space to learn about sexual pleasure, health, advocacy issues and
discussions on a wide range of topics: De-Mystifying Pudendal Neuralgia , for example. The centre has publications and resources from today's and yesteryear's great sexual thinkers, a huge inventory of sex toys, and the largest handmade
vulva doorframe in America. Megan lectures internationally on sexual pleasure, politics, and erotic justice. ohmegan.com/