Making a Scene: Young Women’s Feminist Social Nonmovement in Cairo
Article by Nehal Elmeligy
This paper argues that some women in Cairo, Egypt are part of a feminist ‘social nonmovement’ that predates the 2011 revolution, where they ‘make scenes’, i.e. commit acts of everyday feminist resistance, by defying patriarchal control over their bodies and behavior in public space independently from one another, spurred by patriarchal oppression for most, and participation in the revolution for some. Through interviews with twelve Cairene women in 2017, I investigate how and why they defy the social norms governing women’s use of public spaces and investigate the role of the 2011 revolution in their different forms of feminist defiance. I analyze three acts of public feminist resistance: women removing the hijab, defying street harassment, and moving out of their parents’ and husbands’ homes. My findings contribute to the literature on recent Egyptian women’s feminist resistance specifically, and everyday resistance studies in general. Only a quarter of my participants identify the revolution as the main reason for their feminist epiphany and resistance.