Simply, we are selling our car and buying a new one. It was past midnight when my husband finished emptying the clutter in the old car and brought all his cartoons home. I insisted I go down to give the old car one last look as if embracing it, or maybe thanking it. I had just finished watching a talk show about harassment (or rather raping) female revolutionists in Tahrir. I switched off the TV, put on my scarf and went down. The cold air hit my face. The distance wasn’t far, it was just there. One look and I would be back. It was too dark and quite. None was in the street. And I heard a scribble! My heart thumped faster while my mind was reassuring me there is nothing. I looked at the car but couldn’t utter my last words to her. The air blew harder, the scribble got louder and I didn’t give a shit about the car. That must have been a harasser, I ran back the corridor to the gate of my building, leapt up in the air crossing the two steps in front of the door, closed the gate behind me, and it was warm again. I went straight to the apartment, taking refuge in my husband’s side feeling warm and SAFE beside him.
But rape isn’t about that. It isn’t some imaginary tale happening in my head upon watching a program. It is a lifetime moment of life or death, and if it was life, it might mean the death of soul. So it is a moment of death or death.
A flashback to myself 16 years ago, I stood in front of one of my friends who asked me firmly “Do you love him?” I shyly nodded without muttering a word. The 11 years old girl (me) didn’t know then what love was. I was just back from KSA, where I had to be covered from head to toe, to Egypt where I entered a mixed theatre class and wore miniskirts. At that time, a friend came, out of custom to have a mate, showing admiration and saying “I love you”. I thought that was so gentle and I of course loved him back. But it wasn’t about dating! I loved him in the sense that he was cute and funny. For him, love was interpreted to secret phone calls and going outs. But that wasn’t the love I knew. I felt I have drowned myself in an unethical pond by just saying “I love you” back. And I lived with the feeling of guilt for the years that came after; guilty I said “I love you” to a boy!
A flashback to myself 10 years ago, I was in the bus going to my college, finally found a seat after a long time of standing up and there came a man to stand beside me. I felt something scribbling my shoulder. I drew my shoulder farther trying to figure out what was touching me. For me, looks at my body are sometimes hurtful, let alone trying to touch it. I thought the man beside me was inserting his hand inside his pocket and trying to touch my shoulder. But the reality was uglier. The man beside me was erecting out his penis and touching my shoulder. I leapt up so humiliated and got out of the bus at the next stop. The fresh air hit my face and warm tears rolled down my cheeks.
It is just a typical Egyptian society; raping girls for their being girls; caring less about their emotions and aggravating their status in society for the mere fact that she is a girl with a breast and vagina.
It is a society that breeds decent, delicate and shy females. A girl should be always embarrassed about her body, low voiced and elegant. In the same time, it allows men to experience the ugliest of things; breeding toughness in them by allowing them to utter the worst of words, hit, date girls (even if deceiving them with the name of love), give orders to their sisters, shout at their mothers, go out late in the night in addition to lots of deeds that are a yes for males and no for females. Few escape those ugly values but most sink down to them.
And now under the weak reign of the Muslim Brotherhood, girls are being flagrantly raped and harassed for saying ‘no’ and protesting. I am not saying this has never happened before, but it was not so open, systemized and ugly. I have no words to describe how I felt upon reading the testimonies of the raped girls. I simply shut close my legs and covered my breasts as if there was somebody trying to touch me. I couldn’t figure out how it is to penetrate through my body, how it is with fingers trying to poke every part of me, and palms squeezing my flesh? Is it painful? Humiliating? Devastating? No doubts, of course!
Nakedness is the word to describe that. Contradictions are the core of that. It is a nude society that tries so hard to look high valued while its deformities are so exposed and seen. Well, piousness is not about hiding penises and breasts. Women are not supposed to grow out more hands and legs to keep their privacies protected. We are not supposed to be afraid to be alone.
I offer no solutions, for it is so personal. For myself, I would take refugee always in my husband and the males around me. That’s me. Other girls might choose the worst by keeping themselves home. Maybe for the more courageous, they would choose to fight; with electrics and weapons or maybe through walking in groups. Ok, one more way to fight is to write on your underwear “I have HIV”!