More women of Egypt.

In children's books, Rosa Parks is portrayed as a middle-aged woman who was too tired to stand up and yield her seat on the bus to a white man. This version has some poetic appeal to it — one woman standing, er, sitting, alone, against the institution of segregation — but it ignores Parks' history as an activist and undermines the work of the many people who organized with her.

Asmaa Mahfouz is likewise being portrayed as the girl who started the revolution in Egypt, by uploading her vlog (see below) to YouTube and Facebook. But Asmaa is not a "girl"; she's a 26-year-old woman with a BA in Business Administration from Cairo University. She also did more than upload a vlog. She was part of the April 6 movement, a grassroots youth organization that has been active in Egypt for the past two years. To treat her like she's Joan of Arc, a young girl "knowing neither A nor B," appeals to those who want to see Egyptian activists as sympathetic but ultimately disorganized and naive. While it's true this is not a top-down movement, and its success seems to have surprised everyone inside Egypt and out, it's also unfair to ignore the groundwork in democratic organizing that has been laid by activists for the past five years, including the April 6, Khalid Said, and Kifaya movements.

Read an interview with Asmaa Mahfouz here.

Leave a Reply