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Laila’s Soft Screaming

Laila’s Soft Screaming

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Published by KolenaLaila
A Discourse Analysis of Cyber-Feminist Resistance on the Egyptian Women Blogsphere
A Discourse Analysis of Cyber-Feminist Resistance on the Egyptian Women Blogsphere

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Published by: KolenaLaila on Apr 17, 2010
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Layla’s Soft Screaming: A Discourse Analysis of Cyber-Feminist Resistance on the Egyptian WomenBlogsphere
Dr. Mohamed Hossam Ismail
Faculty of Mass CommunicationAjman UniversityUAE
A Research Paper submitted to
 The professional Education Section of  The International Conference of the IAMCR
"Media, Communication, Information:Celebrating 50 Years of Theories and Practices"
UNESCO, Paris, France July 23-25, 2007 July 2007
1. Introduction:
This study explores the aims, activities and challenges of women’s cyber-feministactivities in Egypt as well as causes and solutions of women’s problems proposed inthese activities' discourse. The case study will be the campaign that took place withinthe Egyptian blogsphere on September 2006 titled: “We Are All Layla”. The campaignnamed after Layla, the main fictional character of Latifa AL-Ziat's novel "Open Door".The late Latifa AL-Ziat, a prominent Egyptian leftist feminist, portrayed "Layla" as anexample of a problematic heroine who represented the oppressed women in Egypt. TheCampaign raises complex issues in relation to feminist ethnography.The purpose of this paper, also, is to analyze the potential of blogs as a medium as it is being used by and for women and to explore the representations of women that are being created online, specifically in this campaign. In this e-activity, the symbolic Laylahad a virtual screaming that used a "soft"-ware technology of blogging to pass on loudunyielding real screaming in her quest for justice and equal human rights.Through discourse analysis of the posts written in both male and female Egyptian blogswho shared in the campaign, the study will demonstrate the similarities and thedifferences among Egyptian female bloggers and their male counterparts, which arerelated to both the historical emergence of women’s movements, their developments,and in particular their close affiliation to neo-nationalist struggles against politicalcorruption and despotism in Egypt, as well as contemporary circumstances such asambiguous government policies, repression of civil societies and prevailing Islamicresurgence. This contribution also looks to the specific factors and conditions that shapethese women’s e-efforts in this particular phase in Egypt’s history.This paper would argue that the female Egyptian bloggers mostly use strategies of 
Islamic feminism
to claim their rights lost by the selective interpretations of religioustexts by men, and attacking the practices driven from old and torn traditions not fromtrue Islam. However, some female bloggers have not been aligned with any specificideology applying some strategies of the
third-wave feminism
discourse to identifytheir problems and attack types of discrimination against them. The female bloggerswho framed their posts using discourse of Islamic feminism have gained positiveresponses by male bloggers, whereas those who framed their post using discourse of third-wave feminism have been attacked by male bloggers in their responses to thecampaign.The study will use a qualitative discourse analysis through strategies of "FramingTheory". The concept of framing has been pivotal in research on social interactionamong anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, and linguists. Socio-logisticalresearch shows how the discourse analysis of frames can be applied to a range of socialcontexts. This paper is trying to provide a theoretical framework for conceptualizing therelationship between frames and schemas as well as a methodology for the discourseanalysis of framing in interaction, and then applying this framework to analyze the2
campaign of (We are all Layla).
2. Cyber-Feminism: An Egyptian Version of "Girl Power"
Cyber-feminism is a sub-movement of feminism that deals with female identity andfeminist theory in the domain of 'cyberspace', i.e. computers, the Internet andinformation technology. Women who choose to use communication technology as ameans of organizing or activism. Definition as a political strategy Linking the terms"cyber" and "feminism" produces a crucial new formation in the history of feminism(s)and of the e-media. Each part of the term necessarily modifies the meaning of the other."Feminism" (or more properly, "feminisms") has been understood as a historical--andcontemporary--transnational movement for justice and freedom for women, whichdepends on women's activist participation in networked local, national, and internationalgroups. (Everett, 2004: 1278).The study articulates objectives of the campaign (we are all Layla) with objectives of cyber-feminism. However, concepts such as Cyber-grrl, woman Cyborg are kinds of movements that do not exist in the Egyptian society that witnesses a kind of Islamicresurgence which resulted in the emergence of 
Islamic feminism.
This research paper uses the term
“Third-wave Feminist”
to identify the discourse of female Egyptian bloggers who used strategies different from those that have beendescribed as Islamic feminist. Those female bloggers did not relate to any specificideology, instead they began, using a postmodern term, with their “mini-narratives”, i.e.their personal stories about injustice inflicted upon Egyptian women and girls. Havingno particular ideology is considered as a strong point in their favor which asserts their uniqueness and originality.The Internet helped Egyptian women to be cyber-activists because they managed toreach advanced level of using the Internet, to be publishers. Women’s usage of andcontribution to the online medium lead to more advanced level of participation, that of representation. The magic words in this arena are blogging, being bloggers, and creatingtheir own blogsphere.The Weblog is one of the most illustrative phenomena that are extending currentlywithin the Web sphere. It is creating a new protagonist within the users and convertingthem into creators. The blogs have a very easy editing process, free access and a potential spread. These are the reasons to consider the blogs one of the emblematicelements and new tool in the new information society. The normal user of Internet, asthe core of this format, is due to be an active part of Internet society. The bloggers areretaking the collaborative spirit they were longing for.The motives to write blogs differ from one to the other. Normally it is considered awindow to express freely personal points of view, sharing private experiences,criticizing social values, culture, economic laws, social behaviors, and politicalrestrictions among others; delivering new thoughts, personal literature, poetry, novels;searching for new knowledge, promoting explorations, analyzing social concepts,3

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