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Dr. Mohamed Hossam Ismail
Faculty of Mass Communication Ajman University UAE
: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
This study explores the aims, activities and challenges of women’s cyber-feminist activities in Egypt as well as causes and solutions of women’s problems proposed in these activities' discourse. The case study will be the campaign that took place within the Egyptian blogsphere on September 2006 titled: “We Are All Layla”. The campaign named 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 an example of a problematic heroine who represented the oppressed women in Egypt. The Campaign 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 Layla had a virtual screaming that used a "soft"-ware technology of blogging to pass on loud unyielding real screaming in her quest for justice and equal human rights. Through discourse analysis of the posts written in both male and female Egyptian blogs who shared in the campaign, the study will demonstrate the similarities and the differences among Egyptian female bloggers and their male counterparts, which are related to both the historical emergence of women’s movements, their developments, and in particular their close affiliation to neo-nationalist struggles against political corruption and despotism in Egypt, as well as contemporary circumstances such as ambiguous government policies, repression of civil societies and prevailing Islamic resurgence. This contribution also looks to the specific factors and conditions that shape these 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 religious texts by men, and attacking the practices driven from old and torn traditions not from true Islam. However, some female bloggers have not been aligned with any specific ideology applying some strategies of the third-wave feminism discourse to identify their problems and attack types of discrimination against them. The female bloggers who framed their posts using discourse of Islamic feminism have gained positive responses 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 the campaign. The study will use a qualitative discourse analysis through strategies of "Framing Theory". The concept of framing has been pivotal in research on social interaction among anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, and linguists. Socio-logistical research shows how the discourse analysis of frames can be applied to a range of social contexts. This paper is trying to provide a theoretical framework for conceptualizing the relationship between frames and schemas as well as a methodology for the discourse analysis of framing in interaction, and then applying this framework to analyze the
3 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 and feminist theory in the domain of 'cyberspace', i.e. computers, the Internet and information technology. Women who choose to use communication technology as a means 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--and contemporary--transnational movement for justice and freedom for women, which depends on women's activist participation in networked local, national, and international groups. (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 Islamic resurgence 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 been described as Islamic feminist. Those female bloggers did not relate to any specific ideology, instead they began, using a postmodern term, with their “mini-narratives”, i.e. their personal stories about injustice inflicted upon Egyptian women and girls. Having no 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 to reach advanced level of using the Internet, to be publishers. Women’s usage of and contribution 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 creating their own blogsphere. The Weblog is one of the most illustrative phenomena that are extending currently within the Web sphere. It is creating a new protagonist within the users and converting them 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 emblematic elements and new tool in the new information society. The normal user of Internet, as the core of this format, is due to be an active part of Internet society. The bloggers are retaking the collaborative spirit they were longing for. The motives to write blogs differ from one to the other. Normally it is considered a window to express freely personal points of view, sharing private experiences, criticizing social values, culture, economic laws, social behaviors, and political restrictions among others; delivering new thoughts, personal literature, poetry, novels; searching for new knowledge, promoting explorations, analyzing social concepts,
4 sharing travel experiences, etc. Some considered these explosion of the Egyptian blogs as a result of the role AND bravery of blogs in the Kifaya movement that, in essence, is a reaction to 25 years of rule by Mubarak (Zuckerman, 2006: 1). The movement has brought together a wide range of opposition parties - Nasserite, panArab, youth, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s always had an online component, beginning as a manifesto authored on the Internet and much of the organizing is done via mailing lists and Yahoo groups. Bloggers have been critical to the movement’s success as well - initially, it wasn’t well covered by the press, but bloggers have helped take up the slack and provided press coverage that domestic and international media initially didn’t. In the context of that blogging euphoria, the campaign of (We are all Layla) emerged. A satirical blogpost from Manal and Alaa (the prominent bloggers) on their website encouraged women to start carrying sharp sticks so they could castrate men who sexually harassed them. It was pretty clearly a joke, but this didn’t stop Al Jazeera and the BBC from running stories stating that Kifaya was now using blogs to encourage women to take up arms against men. (Zuckerman, 2006: 2). After a couple of weeks, one act of both citizen journalism and activism created the campaign called “We are all Layla” as 200 women bloggers organized a day of simultaneous blog-posts, where they all talked about the difficulties of being female in Egypt especially kinds of discrimination and harassment. Many of the female participants in (we are all Layla) designed another blogger campaign to combat ads created by the department of tourism, which showed bikini-clad women on beaches and belly dancing. The theme of the blog campaign was “Egypt is not like this” as well as another campaign launched especially to stop sexual harassment titled: “ Not to let your daughters devoured in the Street”.
3. Framing Egyptian Cyber-Feminism: Discourse Analysis of (We are all Layla) Campaign
3/1. Bloggers' Discourse Sets Frames
Framing is the process of selecting and highlighting some aspects of a perceived reality, and making connections among them so as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and solution. Frames construct social reality and influence people by determining what they notice or identify as a problem, and then how they understand, remember, evaluate, and choose to act (Entman, 1993: 25) using a specific discourse I am suggesting that Worldview, as a 'basic paradigm introduced by Lucian Goldman, the philosopher and social scientist, can clearly set the relation between discourse and
5 framing. Worldview is a historical paradigm that describe the perspective adapted by a specific class, gender, or ethnic group in understanding its social reality; this paradigm connects its values with its discourse and actions' (Asfoor: 1998: 92-94) Therefore, 'Worldview creates a discourse that sets the frames of a specific problematic situation' (Ismail: 2002: 95). Frames, in general, perform four functions: Problem definition: Which issue, event, or political actor (individual, group, or nation) gets noticed or is defined as a problem? Diagnosis: What caused or created the problem? Judgment or moral evaluation: Why has this happened? Whose fault is it? Remedy: What should we do about it, e.g. what are the solutions of this problem(s)? How can we improve this condition or effect? However, and according to the specific nature of the campaign that reflects many problems of Egyptian women not a single problem, I will make some modifications that suit the campaign (We are all Layla) analyzed that has two contradicting frames for both female and male bloggers. My Discourses Analysis will be classified into three categories: Objectives/Counter-Objectives of the campaign as stated by the bloggers, which will be more comprehensive than definition of the problems, Causes/ Counter-Causes of Egyptian women’s problems as mentioned by the bloggers, and finally Solutions and Counter-Solutions of women's problems as proposed by the bloggers.
3/2. Objectives/ Counter Objectives of the Campaign
The first posts elaborate how the campaign began which the study considers as a good example of professional education of cyber-campaigns: Shaimaa wrote: “The campaign titled (We are all Layla) began with one Layla complain to another Layla. The number increased to three, then up to fifty girls and women. We have figured out that regardless of our backgrounds and agendas we are all actually Layla. Layla is the raw model of the Egyptian girls who witnessed different situations in a society that put men in a superior rank whereas put women in an inferior one, a society does not care about her dreams and thoughts” (1). Lasto-Adri or ( I-do-not-know) used the stylistic form of diaries to describe her contribution in the campaign by saying: “August 28th: The notion of (we are all Layla) preoccupied my mind for a while. I had tried many times to open the notion with my colleague bloggeresses, but I decided to retreat. Till that day I knew Shaimaa for the first time, and I cannot remember what brought the subject, yet for my astonishment, I found Shaimaa very enthusiastic to open the subject with (An Egyptian Girl) that night. We had the first meeting (Shaimaa, An Egyptian Girl, EPITAPH, and me). August 29th: (Arabesque) and (The cry of curlew) joined us. We started searching about the biggest number of female blogs of many ages and backgrounds and wrote the form
6 of the invitation, as well as we proposed the name of the day putting into consideration the symbolist dimension of choosing Layla. September 1st: Layla had a consensus. We added female bloggers who approved on contributing in that day in separate mail group to facilitate discussion. September 4th: We sent the first email to that group, and for our surprise we found more than 100 messages in our inbox. In that day, I recalled the poetic line of Suad AL-Sabah, the Kuwaiti poet (O' man, why are you always interested in my look, and you never perceive my mind?) while thinking about injustice imposed upon women by the oriental society from my perspective, a perspective of 21-years-old girl. September 9th: Launching the Day. I made sure of my feelings, I do not want this masculine society's sympathy to change its inherited traditions, I only wanted to say to women in our oriental societies: O' Women, come to understanding, we are all Layla, and we are all up to this task.” (2). An-Egyptian-Girl explained why they chose Layla as the symbol of this campaign mentioning: " EPITAPH first proposed Nora, the heroine of Ibsen's famous play "The House of the Doll", then Mariam proposed Layla, and we all agreed upon because we found her a real Egyptian model represent our problems" (3). In the same post written by An-Egyptian-Girl, she explained in details the major objectives of the campaign by saying: " However, Layla who saw, from her childhood, many forms of discriminations, managed to preserve her trust in herself believing that her role is not less that any man, whether at home, work or School. The first day of we are all Layla is just a beginning, and as in every initiative, it had its own flaws like appearing as a front against men. We wanted it feminine first, but we cannot reach any of our goals without dialogue" (4). Life or Something Like it added that the campaign is indented to: "encourage every silenced and voiceless Layla to speak and tell her problems, to let every brother feels his sister, every father to sense her daughter, every husband to feel his wife, every son in the street to feel his mother, and every man in the street to feel his responsibility"(5). White Wizard explained why it is important for women to open up their hearts as: " Dr. John Gray said that woman talks for many reasons among them, to explore what she is trying to say, to feel better and relive frustration, to know herself better whereas man accomplish all of these goals by being silenced to regain his strength" (6). The majority of the Egyptian male bloggers did not "buy" the benign goals of the campaign introduced by female bloggers, introducing, in turn, their own perspective of the goals of the campaign, which considered as Counter-Objectives of the campaign: Abdallah Muftah, a controversial contributor in the campaign said: "The intention of the campaign (we are all Layla) is destructive: this group of posts reminded me with books
7 of Nawal AL-Sadawi (the famous radical feminist) and the Journalist Eqbal Baraka (a prominent liberal feminist and journalist), bloggeresses used the same phrases and notions that do not exist in our culture like the masculine society. Those terms introduced to our culture by some charlatans, secularists and atheists. This kind of thoughts leads to negative ends religiously, psychologically and socially" (7). Allah, Homeland, Fatemah, who accused the female bloggers who arranged the campaign of being sexually deviant, gave untrue negative evaluation of the campaign, its goals and solutions and unjust biased interpretation of the Day by saying: " All posts were a kind of portraying for problems of Layla as if we, men, ignore these problems. He continued "I thought women would talk after long period of silence to oppose a society that treats them as commodities. A father sells her to a husband who in turn inherited her to a son. They are all keeping a worn masculine traditions helped by your silence and submissiveness". The male blogger mentioned that the campaign (we are all Layla) emerged from the hostile atmosphere of showing incidents of sexual harassment and proposing bizarre solutions like castration of harassing men by needles or adding camphor oil to their meals like what is happening to army soldiers" (8). I froze my self in a still life painting used the strategy of distraction, mentioning some other issues that he considered more important than women issues like: political program of corrupt National party that rules Egypt for decades, Middle East conflict as well as violence in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. He scornfully, asked bloggeresses whether those issues are so sad and disgusting that they could not tolerate. He described the campaign as a trivial one for it transformed some exaggerated personal cases to a national cause (9). Our Egypt was upset because he considered the campaign an unnecessary effort that would split the Egyptian blogsephere by saying: " Why do we always want to hit blogs in a killer point? Why do some of us insist to have pacts and blocs inside the successful Egyptian blogsepgere via creating a feminine hostile atmosphere? In this campaign, every bloggeress came out with one of her complexes. We all have one, but we cannot reveal it any time we want because we all like this place. This bloc of (We are all Layla), who wrote in a blunt discriminative style, will harm more than it can benefit anyone". (10). This study partially agree upon this idea because some of the replies of men showed animosity and resentment. Tareq (Two Words), a male blogger had the moral courage to read all the posts of the campaign classifying the male responses to (we are all Layla) campaign into four categories: "The first category can be called (Mixer of Cards). We can find some men opposed the campaign, but instead of attacking what is already written, they wrote phrases like: (Morsi [the male symbol like Layla] also undergoes injustice not only Layla), (we are all Egyptian, we are not supposed to discriminate Layla from others), (Have we solved all
8 problems of Egypt to look at Layla's problems?). This kind of replies is trying to hush the other opinions or distract them with statements that are irrelevant to the subject. The second category can be titled (Sheik Potato Head). He used statements like: (Quran says Men have upper hand over women), (No for Changing Allah's laws). Such phrases are true religious mottos misused for false purposes. Any female blogger neither asks for changing holy texts nor for being equal with men in inheritance. Those male bloggers tried to drag bloggeresses to a battlefield where they are masters in fighting within, which is religion. The third category can be named (The extremist clown). He satirically uses phrases such as: (Ok men, from now on we are supposed to sit at home cooking and cleaning), (The international Zionism is managed to infiltrate the Egyptian society). They portrayed a caricature that is repulsive to readers. The fourth category is the rational male bloggers but they are unfortunately a forgotten minority" (11). An-Egyptian-Girl replied in her blog defending the campaign and returning the bullets by saying: "Accusation: A punch of girls had a balloon and blow it up…cute girls! Defense: We have to confess that Blogging is the decisive factor that gave us this push to arrange such a day or campaign. Without blogging, we would not have met and thought about this day, because blogsephere has taught us the ability to speak our minds. Accusation: Nawal AL-Sadawi is our feminist minaret we gather around Defense: Some men are pushing us to take a defensive position. From our posts written in our blogs, the blogsephere community knows our thoughts and knows us. We are not parroting anybody. Accusation: This feminist adventure cracked the national consensus and split the efforts of the movements that oppose inheriting of presidency in Egypt. Defense: what is the relation between this and that? Any blogger have many loyalties and identities" (12).
3/3. Causes/ Counter-Causes of Women's Problems
Egyptian Female bloggers had many reasons that they considered behind the dire situation of the Egyptian women. The study will, here, elaborate the Causes of
Helpless Government: White Wizard said "Her Excellency Mrs. Susan Mubarak did not do anything helpful for Egyptian women. Their Excellencies, passive ministers of social affairs, have not done anything for women because they were occupied with their own battles to preserve their authoritative chairs" (13).
9 Political Despotism: Salma Salah claimed, "The whole Egyptian society is subjugated. Layla live in a world of oppressed people who are trying to release tyranny imposed over them in Layla's body either by covering it, torturing it, or having sex with it" (14). Moreover, Meza teza added that: " The call for a feminist revival is long overdue. But in our region, where life itself is at stake, feminism seems, as a luxury that men at war (men in poverty, men under oppression) can not afford" (15). A Post (Tadwenna) also mentioned that" The corrupt governments are a reward given for the submissive and surrendered peoples. The status quo in Egypt is the logic result of the silenced men and women alike because both transformed their society's mistakes to an accepted matter" (16). Worn Traditions: The bloggeress An Egyptian Girl tried to display how deeply rooted this negative look against women in the Arab and the Egyptian heritage is. She explored a new cultural arena that is proverbs. There are many proverbs in the Egyptian culture that reflect this inferior status of girls and women. One proverb says: "O you, mother of girls, you will endure hardships till you die". Second, portraying the moment after knowing the sex of the baby after giving birth, might be translated into: " When they said to me it is baby boy, I felt my back is strong. However, when they said it is a baby girl, I felt like the ceiling of the house tumbled over me" (17). Also, the bloggeress New Dawn (Fajr gaded), tried to portray the chattered woman who move from the venoms of worn traditions to the venoms of self-flogging (18). Egyptian Chronicle (Zeinobia) added that she simply believes that Islam gives women all of her rights yet backward traditions and norms are stronger than religion itself (19). Lady Nomenos is trying to be more specific by mentioning the problem of Teenagers Marriage in Countryside. She proposed that girls in countryside in Egypt are usually obliged to marry in a young age (20). The masculine society misinterpret Islam by its selectivity of holy texts: A Kite clarified "Allah have not been unjust to Layla, worn traditions have been. Allah (God) did not create women to be oppressed, how come would God create a human being to torture him or her? Allah said: "O Mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, who created you from Adam, and from him he created Eve, and from them both he created many men and women; and fear Allah through whom you demand your mutual rights and don't cut the relations of kinship. Surly, Allah is ever an all-watcher over you". ( Surat An-Nisa (the women), verse 1). Adam has become a witty lawyer who looks for punctures among words, Could we see a near day when Adam would bury Eve alive? Then why Adam become upset when he hears that he has a baby girl? Allah said: "And when the news of the birth of a female child is brought to any of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled by inward grief! He hides himself from the people because of the evil of that whereof he has been informed. Shall he keep her with dishonor or bury her in the earth? Certainly, evil is in their decision". (Surat An-Nahal (The Bees), verses 58, 59).
How come these noble texts transformed upside down to phrases like: " Never raise your voice before me, say yes only", "Your brother is a man he is free to do what he wants", "To hill with love, it is impoliteness. You should marry your cousin", " We don't have divorce in our lexicon"…etc. Those phrases made Layla a coward person or let her disbelief in any principle" (21). Rania Youssef had the courage to say: " Men do not apply the true humanistic rules of Islam" (22). The notion of misinterpreting Islam by its selectivity of holy texts displayed through an archetypical story of a girl from a village in Upper Egypt who is forced to marry a guy older than her by 15 years. The family told her as long as he is able to F***, it is Ok to marry him (23). Women are oppressed by aged cultural heritage not by Islam. There is a kind of confusing between Islam and the Islamic thoughts by human. Those who monopolize the interpretation of Islam considering themselves the owners of the sole truth that subjugate women. Therefore, the Islamic thoughts are human efforts that can be changed and evolved over time and history (24). Hypocrisy, discrimination, and double standards: Farida and trying to be special said: "Yes my baby, God is one, and the fault is one, but in the world of Oriental people, God is one and the fault is two: one feminine and one masculine. Everything could be forgiven for men yet not for women. You will not be a teenager who lives her age, but your brother will feast in his adolescence. A young woman is not supposed to have a love affair before marriage, or to have sex because it is a sin. It is adultery. However, a young man may love or even have sex before marriage, and all of his outrageous deeds are forgiven" (25). I am leaving showed the consequence of discrimination in this psychotic effect saying : "I was, in my day dreams years ago when I was young, imagining myself a boy not a girl, so that I could do want I want having areas of freedom exclusive for boys" (26). Discrimination extended to jobs as Perhaps (Rubama) proposed: "The society prefer doctors, physicians, and to be men, whereas customer service employees and secretaries to be women because women are good for display purposes" (27). Continuing the forms of discrimination, a girl can not purse a practical faculty because she is going to late at night, she is not supposed to join acting group at school or college or be elected in student organizations, she is not supposed to travel alone. In our Arab Societies, women are treated like second, third or even fourth rank citizens. This fact cannot be hidden by media make up or could not be ignored by men The girl in the Egyptian society is a burden from her birth till her death. (28). Sexual and non sexual harassments in public transportations: A bird in the yard gave a kind of bird's-eye-view of the problems saying: " Layla gets sick and tired from greediness, bad manners and lacking of courtesy of Taxis and microbuses drivers.
11 They are insulting her, touching her whoever Layla might be, young or old, married or non married, even Layla with a baby would witnessed such a non civility every day. The tragedy escalates when she see people around her act like audience in a theatre" (29). My Scattered Dreams gave a personal experience of that kind of Sexual Harassment in public transportation by saying that a 30-years-old man touched her thigh in the microbus when she was in her way to take a private lesson. From that moment on, she never was out alone (30). After the campaign of (We are all Layla), which started this kind of self-revealing for Egyptian bloggeresses, incidents of mass sexual harassment took place in Cairo on October 2006 synchronized with days of (Feast of Fetr) the Muslim feast that takes place after fasting of the holy month of Ramadan. Egyptian bloggeresses led by An Egyptian Girl, therefore, started another campaign aimed to collect testimonies of Egyptian girls who have hit by those frenzy human-wolves under the slogans such as " Speak Girl, Break the barrier of Silence" and " Stop violating your daughters' on platforms" (31). Men Oppressive behaviors towards women: This category includes many subcategories of masculine coercive measures. White Ink talked about Women abused by their husbands yet they can not ask for divorce (32). Eternity showed the ironical situation of the Egyptian women these days saying: "One century ago, women request their rights. When men gave them their rights, they also gave them their duties. Men do not want to do their responsibilities either at home or outside home (33). Kalbouza laken sampateek (Chubby yet simpatico) gave a first hand experience about a married woman whose husband is a trader. He got entangled in taking drugs. Their financial status got so bad that she had to work as a servant in houses for few pounds hardly feed her children (34). EPITAPH_87, one of the leading coordinators of the campaign, gave three major faults of men. First, men get used to take advantage of our silence and submissiveness. They do not help wives at home refusing share in domestic responsibilities. Second, men treat women as commodities. [Her] fiancé used to talk to [her] like that: "I am going to pay a lot for our engagement". Third, men hate intelligent women because they are dangerous; they uncover the masculine mentality that has many flagrant double standard behaviors (35). Moreover, A kite spoke about ignoring wives by husbands and choosing the café shops to hang with male friends, spending long hours surfing the net, or gazing at the girls of the Arab music videos whom were invented by other males (36). Bluestone elaborate how men see women like vulnerable creatures by telling her personal story. A car crash took place between two cars, Layla was pressed by people
12 not to talk with the male driver of the other car. She has to wait till she reaches out a male relative (brother or cousin) who can negotiate with the other male!! (37). This is a problem that reflects a socioeconomic background; people in Egypt do not exchange insurance information in a calm way, because in most cases poor Taxi drivers in Egypt do not have car insurance. The oppressive behaviors of men can extend to the intimate relationship between the two sexes. Still in my mind mentioned the Sexual non-fulfillment of husbands and wives by saying: "Sometimes the reasons behind domestic misunderstandings could be traced to the sexual disappointment. The indication that would assures that is the widely spread sexual chats among married couples, the phenomenon that needs research" (38). Kalbouza laken sampateek (Chubby yet simpatico) had a very popular post in this campaign. The post begins with a drawing portraying a woman with five hands: one cleans window, second cooks, third feeds baby, fourth gathers dried clothes, fifth cleans floor and with her two legs, one gathers dust, and the other presses clothes. The cartoon ended with a comment saying: "this is the Arab Layla, she has seven hands and legs, working without rest, and at night, she should be sexual goddess to satisfy her Adam spending with him red seconds, then he tossed to the other side leaving her to suffer the rest of the black hours". That was the first post that insinuates that among the ordeals of Layla is enduring her husband's impotency, sexual weakness, or premature ejaculation. The post got many replies from both women and men. Women considered the bloggeress courageous enough to talk about this taboo in the Arab society whereas men considered the post offensive lacking bashfulness of a Muslim woman advising the writer to put tablets of Viagra close to her bed and not to generalize her personal calamity (39). The subjugation of women by women: Not only men who oppress women but paradoxically women have a share in oppressing other women. A Post (Tadwenna) said that we all witness women who dislike having girls preferring boys (40). Moreover, A kite added: "In this society, women are holding these bad thoughts. She is raising her baby boy on these ideas, and soon he would be a part from this masculine despotic structure" (41). Considering Marriage is the ultimate goal and fulfillment for Oriental women: Want to be a pride described the situation of those who do not find a groom, or the situation of old maid whom their number dramatically increases in her society. "Should they burn themselves alive? Women should be economically, scientifically, and psychologically prepared for this moment when she figures out that she has to face life alone" she exclaimed (42). I don't know also depicted the pressure put upon unmarried girls, the limitation of Layla in marriage and having children as the society consider any woman as a pariah person when she rebelled the notion of a baby machine (43). Blue Stone showed the irony of women status as the Egyptian society has been deteriorating and even is getting worse compared with the pharaohnic ages (44).
Economic pressures: A Star (Negma) was the first female blogger to go beyond the problems of her class to mention the problems of the downtrodden women who support families and women who financially support their little kids (45). Blue Rose concluded: "Neither governments nor members of society care about those poor ignorant women who live in the peripheries in mega-cities like Cairo" (46). Economic pressures can make marriage as a contract between one male (father) and another (husband) as A Kite showed that the commodity is the girl who move from one house to another like a piece of furniture or an apparatus (47). The bloggeress used the style of writing the merchandise contracts to convey her notion. Those are the reasons that have been used by female bloggers in this campaign to describe women's drastic situation in Egypt at the beginning of our 21st century; however, male bloggers naturally had their own reasons that I consider the Counter Causes of Women's problems: Political oppression is practiced over all men and women: Many male bloggers consider: "The crisis is not the crisis of women, it is the crisis of oppression upon human being in Egypt as a whole. Woman can not be liberated unless men get liberated themselves" as Reformer 1976 mentioned (48). The ethical illness touches every member of the society not men only. There is no law to protect men and women alike (49). The weakness or the absence of laws: Abu pasha who is considered one of the rational minority of male bloggers said: "The notion of domination of the masculine thoughts has its roots in the weakness or the absence of laws as managing life matters and interests by force was a common practice" (50). Discrimination can be also inflicted upon men: My grandfather Eskander offered counter stories that indicate that oppression or discrimination can be also inflicted upon men at home or at public transportations. Father can ground a baby boy because he is crying while forgives his daughter. Women have separate carriages in underground while men have to crowd over each other (51). Corrupt Media is behind Sexual Harassment: Unbrainwasher suggested that what happened is a reproduction of huge amount of images of stupid boxing and wrestling matches aired by satellite channels besides images of naked artists and dancers in music videos and advertisements which are sexually suggestive" (52). Women oppress women: The end of alley has realized that the majority who put salt on the wounds of a divorced woman or an old maid are married women themselves. The married girl shows off because she managed to marry and to be secure, and practice superiority and haughtiness over the poor widow or barren wife though all of those did not harm her by anything (53). This is me has also realized that women have a kind of
14 internal or self-Oppression. Women have masochist attributes. There are some enjoy the maximum degree of pain and degradation, and some others get pleasure from a minimum degree of dependency, some women want their men to complete the role of their parents, like asking about her by phone, introducing presents, or not forgetting their birthday. Women sometimes want to feel like a weak creature (54). Exaggeration of Individual problems by female bloggers: Blue Rose had a strong reply to Muftah's claim of exaggerating shooting: "Your problem Mr. Muftah that you are not able to objectively read posts of (We are all Layla). You consider that participants in our campaign are wealthy girls who live in air-conditioned Cyber rooms and those stories told by them are exceptional and rare in our Egyptian society. What you are talking about? The girls who are deprived from education are exceptional? Women who financially support their families are rare? Have you ever known that we have in Egypt nine million families that are supported by women?" (55). Some male bloggers like Windows were more objective saying that most oppressed Layla are from countryside not from Cairo (56), which is very true. Imported Western Feminism: Dead man blog considered that the feminist groups and advocates of liberation of women have transformed women bodies to something invaded by all, accessible to all. He prayed to Allah to let Islam be victorious over infidels who exploit women (57). This is a typical post that used displacement to distract readers from the main points discussed. Another biased male blogger said that the true problems of women derived from the looseness and deviation caused by freedom given to girls and women (58). However, Unbrainwasher, a fair male blogger said to those demagogue male bloggers: " Today I was about to write a post titled "Layla and the postmodern perspective of seeing self", but I replaced it with this more simple post. Assume that (An Egyptian Girl/Zienab) is the niece of Nawal AL-Sadawi, and (Dr. Rose) has an extremist feminist agenda and she is given money by feminist thinker Betty Freidan, and (Farida) has a complex from men, and (I do not know) has delusions, and (Zenobia) took Qasim Amin (The liberator of women) as an idol although he was an atheist and an agent for imperialism. Let all those behind you and ask your mother, wife, sister, or friend a simple question: is the Egyptian woman oppressed? Use your personal experience to know the other, the women" (59).
3/4. Solutions/ Counter-Solutions of Women's Problems
The majority of posts of blogs did not contain solutions for women problems for many reasons among them: Changing the women status needs change of traditions of society, which is a process that takes time. Moreover, the main objective of the campaign is disclosure, confession and exposure of the dire situation that Egyptian and Arab women live in. However, female bloggers concentrated their solutions in these categories: Return to ethos of religion either Islam or Christianity: Farida and trying to be special proposed trying to return to the "true" religion, which is far from the masculine selectivity (60). This is the essence of Islamic feminism as proposed by the Egyptian female bloggers. Deconstruct Traditional Feminist Discourse: A Post (Tadwenna) suggested that
15 the oppressive women are not the product of men as the feminist organizations were trying to convince us for decades, members of those organizations allowed themselves to speak on behalf of us without our permission (61). Looking to women as human beings instead of mere females: The difference between men and women perhaps is in their way of thinking or their structure of body, but definitely not their rights and duties. Women's social and educational rights do not serve only women; they serve the society as a whole. A happy mother raises peaceloving men. A fulfilled mother raises secure men. A respected sister teaches respect to men. The French says cherchez la femme. Women perhaps are the cause of all the evil, but sure the source of all solutions (62). An Egyptian Girl mentioned the same idea, yet in harsh words, urging men to let aside that inherited stupid haughtiness whom are saturated with, and see problems of women from different perspective because, for sure, half of the society deserve better than they are given (63). Seizing the virtual paradise, the blogsphere: Because without it, as I don't know concluded: "women would not have been able to withstand challenges. Seizing every campaign like " We are all Layla" is a must till a change happens" (64). Definitely, the Egyptian male bloggers had their own perspective of solutions to women's problems in Egypt that matched with their proposed causes. Here is the Counter-Solution of women's problems: Submission to Allah's laws: Abdallah Muftah did not miss this opportunity to give Egyptian women his pious demagogic advice saying: " How come these women and girls want an equality in everything. God's prophets themselves were men. Every sex has its own tasks and missions. How come night be equaled to day. Sheikh Sharawi said that. Every member of the society understands that Islam preserve Layla's rights" (65). The late Sheikh Sharawi was a well-known televised preacher who had conservative yet controversial opinions regarding women. He refused to let his daughters get more than high school education considering that home is the very place of a girl. Disengagement with any Western Feminist Movement or Organization: Egyptians Corner advised Egyptian girls and women not to associate with feminist movements or organizations especially those being active since the international conferences of population and women in the 1990's because those are not better than the Egyptian political parties which have ailing and stinky outdated revolutionary thoughts (66). Islamic & Family Feminism: This solution is different from the demagogic call for submission to Allah's Laws, because Abu Youssef used frames of reference of some primal feminist voices from the past which suit the thoughts of Oriental men who can accept a kind of Islamic and Family feminism. Those thoughts, in addition, are separated from our time by more than 50 years. He mentioned: " Nabawia Musa in her book (Woman and Work) said: 'If a woman find a man to provide her, she had to leave work. Work for woman is valid only if she is in need'. Mai Ziada in her book (Women in Contemporary Arab Thoughts) said: 'The role of being a mother is the supreme duty of any woman and the most noble task is to build a society' " (67).
16 . Changing traditions: Windows proposed that solutions would take a long time because changing traditions must be done beginning from the bases. That generation of girls has taken many rights, so they are accountable not to waste them or misuse them. They have to ask for more rights till we reach the true equality between sexes (68). One of the rational posts also said: "Many of the girls are not suppressed by parents but are suffocated by over-luxurious life provided by parents to bring girls rest and happiness to the extend that it could be another form of oppressing women. Some girls are in a bad need of being self-confident and of being experienced with real society" (69). The post was praised by many commentating bloggeresses who experienced the shortcoming of having over-protective parents. Seizing the virtual paradise, the blogsphere: This solution repeated by a rational male blogger who recommended that Layla should be persistent and tenacious to continue campaigns like that one. Support that Layla has from inside is the vital one (70). Waiting until all Society take its rights: This satirical solution, which I consider against dialogue, was proposed by My nonsense who said: "when the whole society take their rights, then we, men, will let you swim in freedom, and we, men, will exchange roles with you carrying and feeding babies" (71).
4. Conclusion & Discussion:
In this general discussion that makes the interrelationships between the pre-campaign situation and the major findings of analyzing the discourse of the campaign, this research paper would end with major speculations about future of cyber-feminism in Egypt and the Middle East. Cyber-feminism established itself as a new domain for Egyptian women to express themselves and discuss their problems. The Egyptian female bloggers proved their capabilities to think, arrange and deliver an e-campaign through blogsphere. The euphoria followed the success of blogsphere to resist political despotism in Egypt, which led by (Kefaia) movement, encourages the Egyptian women to think about resisting the established hegemony of patriarchal values and trying to object the narrow gender roles offered under this kind of society. However, as political cyber-rebels face the rage of the aged political regime in Egypt who put some of them in jail, feminist cyber rebels also face the wrath of both their male liberal cyber-peers who considered their e-activity as a menace to the unity of the Egyptian blogsphere as well as the patriarchal old guards who can't stand seeing free women. Nevertheless, the only common ground that proved itself to be an arena of dialogue and mutual understanding is Islamic feminism. Both Egyptian Male and female bloggers agreed upon the need for a new rational interpretation of Islam that can preserve both men's and women's rights within any Arab Muslim society.
The issue of wearing "Hejab” or being veiled never discussed in this e-campaign as if it reached a kind of final settlement or reconciliation, or as it was futile to discuses a nearconsensus-issue. Strategies of a personal third-wave-feminism discourse, as appeared from the analysis, did not manage to bring both sexes to a common ground. Political and military situations in the Middle East in the first decade of the 21st century resulted in a sort of fear from the Westernized "Femi-Nazi" and their Egyptian agents who play a foreign melody. The majority of both female and male bloggers could trust a "home-made" feminism more than any kind of imported feminisms. The bad image of the NGO's working on Egyptian women's problems has a major contribution to this kind of rejection of Third-wave Feminism. Many posts were trying to search about Islamic solutions for problems of the new generation of women in Egypt such as: sexual harassment, the increasing numbers of unmarried girls and the social and psychological complications driven from this problem, women's financial insecurity, and men's carelessness and lack of responsibility. Although Egyptian female bloggers socially and economically represented a specific stratum within the Egyptian society, they managed to deliver many of the problems of other broad classes in Egypt. The college-educated and the technologically-affluent bloggeresses who live mostly in Cairo having a DSL internet connection to upload their posts to their fancy pretty blogs managed to see the agony of downtrodden women who live in peripheral and anarchical districts of Cairo as well as those who live in poor villages that surround this mega-city. Unlike other political movements, such as leftist or Islamist movements, Egyptian cyber-feminists do not primarily aim to mobilize ‘the masses’, rather they focus on strengthening solidarity, and friendly relations between women e-activists. Conducting and arranging similar campaigns or days is a major concern of bloggeresses who try to strengthen this virtual community. Egyptian female bloggers share their global counterparts in lacking theory. Because of their various fine specializations besides being mostly a representative of a new generation of girls who are close to the culture of visual media more than culture of reading, they are not familiar with historical literature of the Egyptian feminists. *********
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15. Plant, Sadie (1997). Zeros + Ones: Digital Women + the New Technoculture. New York: Doubleday. 16. Royal, Cindy (2003). "Representations of Race and Sexuality on Feminist Web Sites", International Communication Association; Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, pp1-21. 17. Sakr, Naomi (2004)."Friend or Foe? Dependency Theory and Women’s Media Activism in the Arab Middle East", Critique: Critical Middle Eastern Studies, Summer, 13(2), pp. 153–174. 18. Talaat, Sahar (2006). "Bloggers or Journalist: New Prespective in the Arab Media", Paper prepared for presentation at the International Association for Mass Communication Research, The American University in Cairo, Egypt. 19. Tannen, Deborah (1997). Framing in Discourse, London: Oxford University Press.
20. Wilding, Faith (1997). “Where Is Feminism in Cyberfeminism?” Available online at http://www.obn.org/cfundef/faith_def.html. 21. Yousef, Asma (2001). Women’s Empowerment and the Internet, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs; April (20)3, pp94-96. 22. Zuckerman, Ethan. (2006). Alaa on Egyptian blogs and activism, http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=987
1Sha3af: Take two, http://laila-eg.blogspot.com/
2I do not know: We are all up to it this task, http://lasto-adri.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_115774973531368922.htm 3An Egyptian Girl: Notes in the Diary Book of Layla, http://bentmasreya.blogspot.com/2006_09_01_archive.html 4Ibid., http://bentmasreya.blogspot.com/2006_09_01_archive.html
5Life or Something Like it: Why we are all Layla? http://mshabeeba.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_10.html 6White Wizard: when Layla Talks, http://white-wizard.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_14.html 7Abdullah Muftah: What a joyful moment for Nawal AL-Sadawi, she knew how to manipulate girls' minds, http://worldkey.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post.html
20 8Allah, Homeland, Fatemah: The International campaign to regain the rights of the bitch, http://taranim.wordpress.com/2006/09/10/laila/ 9I froze my self in a still life painting: who have Layla over their heads?,http://lifepainting.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_115785281841634758.html 10Our Egypt: We are all Egyptian, Layla, http://masrena.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_115783474914776735.html 11Two Words: We are all against Layla, http://kelmeteen.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_13.html 12Ibid., http://bentmasreya.blogspot.com/2006_09_01_archive.html
13White Wizard: when Layla Talks, http://white-wizard.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_14.html 14Salma Salah: To subjugated People, http://salmasalah.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost.html 15A Post (Tadwenna): The point that matters is society's perspective…positive or negative?, http://tadoena.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post.html 16Meza teza, Koullouna Layla, http://mezateza.blogspot.com/2006/09/koullounalayla.html 17An Egyptian Girl: O you, mother of girls!, http://bentmasreya.blogspot.com/2006_09_01_archive.html 18New Dawn (Fajr gaded): It was thought it was a doll, http://welllightedarea.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_10.html 19Egyptian Chronicle ( Zeinobia): Women revolution in the twentieth century http://egyptianchronicles.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post.html 20Lady Nomenos: I, also, have not taken candy, http://nomenoskingdom.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_08.html 21A Kite: Oh Layla,http://tayarawara2.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_10.html
22Rania Youssef: Women had justice under Islam, and have not had it under those who wasted it, http://raniayusuf.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_115780171188789736.html 23Roses: It happens one day,http://hobaroses.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_10.html
24Daughter of Saad (Bent Saad): Say what could not be said, http://bentsa3d.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_13.html
21 25Farida and trying to be special: My Dear Daughter, Please do not come, http://morningcafe.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_09.html 26I am leaving: In Egypt, we are all Layla, http://enira7ela.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_08.html 27Perhaps (Rubma): Discrimination, http://shaima2.net/node/17
28Soosa the vexed : The sign is red, http://soosamafroosa.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_08.html 29- A bird in the yard: Dispersed spirit, http://3asfora-f-elsa7a.blogspot.com/2006/09/1.html 30- My Scattered Dreams: We are all Layla, http://alienzero.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_08.html 31- An Egyptian Girl (Bent Masria): Congrats for Egyptian Sex, http://bentmasreya.blogspot.com/2006_10_01_archive.html 32- White Ink: Sons of families, Daughters of families, http://mzgraphics.com/white-ink/?p=14 33- Eternity: I wish both man and woman be themselves, http://randaraafat.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_10.html 34- Kalbouza laken sampateek (Chubby yet simpatico): Injustice and oppression, http://kalbozza.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_09.html 35- EPITAPH_87: The Trial of Mursi, http://epitaph-87.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_09.html 36- A kite : The pros and cons of Layla, http://tayarawara2.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_11.html 37- Bluestone: It is not Layla's business, http://resstlesswaves.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_10.html 38- Still in my mind: From whispers and touches to terrible silence, http://ba3dakalpalee.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_09.html 39- Kalbouza laken sampateek (Chubby yet simpatico): Seven Job, No Luck, http://kalbozza.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_115754134261110592.html 40- A Post (Tadwenna): The point that matters is society's perspective…positive or negative?, http://tadoena.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post.html 41- A kite : Ibid., http://tayarawara2.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_11.html 42- Want to be a pride: I am not a big zero, http://wanna-b-a-bride.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_08.html
22 43- I don't know: By the pen of a friend, http://lasto-adri.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_09.html 44- Blue Stone: Layla Amnohotoub was more free, http://resstlesswaves.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_09.html 45- A Star (Negma): No Body feels the pain of this woman, http://negma.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_09.html 46- Blue Rose: I will tell you the story of Um Emad, http://bluerose.egyblogs.com/?p=73 47- A Kite: The Contract to buy a female, http://tayarawara2.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_09.html 48Soosa the vexed: The sign is red, http://soosamafroosa.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_08.html 49Life is war, so be ready any time: Oh men, women got mad, http://mo181.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post.html 50Two words: Layla and the wolf, http://kelmeteen.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_09.html 51My grandfather Eskander: Try to be fair Layla, http://geddoiskandar.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_115802568849965856.html 52Unbrainwasher: You are all Layla, Most of us are Hussein, http://unbrainwasher.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/09/10 53The end of alley: My interview is done to see Layla cry in the bus, http://abdoubasha.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_11.html 54This is me: we all want to be Layla, http://hakazaana.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_11.html 55Blue Rose: A replay to Mr. Muftah, http://bluerose.egyblogs.com/?p=75
56Windows: We are not all Mursi, http://shababek.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_09.html 57Dead man blog: They are not all Layla, http://43arb.info/meit/?p=181
58I froze my self in a still life painting: who have Layla over their heads, http://lifepainting.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_115785281841634758.html 59Unbrainwasher: Leave Layla the bloggeress, Ask Layla at home, http://unbrainwasher.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/09/12/
23 60Farida and trying to be special:Op. Cit, http://morning-cafe.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_09.html 6162636465A Post (Tadwenna): Op. Cit, http://tadoena.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post.html Meza Teza, Op. Cit., http://mezateza.blogspot.com/2006/09/koullouna-layla.html An Egyptian Girl:Op. Cit, http://bentmasreya.blogspot.com/2006_09_01_archive.html I don't know: Op. Cit, http://lasto-adri.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_09.html Abdallah Muftah: Op. Cit., http://worldkey.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post.html
66Egyptians Corner: Layla, previously Eva, http://egyptianscorner.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_14.html 67Abu Youssef Collection of poems: About Layla and her sisters, http://www.aboyousif.net/blog/132/about-lailla 68Windows: We are not all Mursi, http://shababek.blogspot.com/2006/09/blogpost_09.html 69Mosho: You are all Layla, http://www.egyblogs.com/mosho/?p=26
70Unbrainwasher: Without masculine support, is Layla going to surrender?, http://unbrainwasher.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/09/13 71My nonsense: Caricature about we are all Layla, http://t5at5a.blogspot.com/2006/09/blog-post_10.html ************
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