Bodies That Protest: The Girl in the Blue Bra, Sexuality, and State Violence in Revolutionary Egypt


Hafez, Sherine. 2014. “Bodies That Protest: The Girl in the Blue Bra, Sexuality, and State Violence in Revolutionary Egypt.” Signs 40 (1): 20–28. doi:10.1086/676977.


Author: Sherine Hafez


In what became a synecdoche for state violence and the abuse of military power during the Egyptian Revolution of January 25, 2011, the image of an unconscious young female body, stripped down to her jeans and bra and being dragged by her limp arms and viciously kicked in the abdomen by a soldier’s heavy boot, almost instantaneously occupied public attention. While the case of the “girl in the blue bra,” as she later became known (her real identity remains undisclosed), starkly illuminates the grim ways women’s bodies become sites of social control and moral engineering, this is not a new phenomenon. Women’s bodies in the Middle Eastern region have often been viewed as the terrain of cultural, moral, and political subjection. By going beyond viewing the corporeal form as simply a repository of disciplinary power, this paper proposes to understand the body as a fluid and culturally mediated form with the potential to be continually disruptive, destabilizing, and transformative.

Topics: Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Violence Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa Countries: Egypt

Year: 2014

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