Video of Sheikh Sharing His Opinion on Appropriate Response to Bikinis Goes Viral
This video, dating back to 2014, is going viral again, in concurrency with the moral police officers that have emerged, and judged Sahel’s party and beach scenes. The bad news is I wasn’t a writer back in 2014 and I did not have a platform to publish my thoughts and opinions on such use of religion. The good news is I am a writer now, I have my platform, so here goes.
Those who are genuinely disturbed and/or concerned with public morals, should concern themselves more with such use of religious discourse, more so than with who is wearing what bikini or which club is hosting an event with go-go dancers present. If there is something truly dangerous to society, it will have to be this: a man with religious authority – thereby making him credible in the eyes of most Egyptians – utilizing a media platform to encourage men to gawk at women.
This notion of it being acceptable for men to gawk at women is not problematic only because it amounts to sexual harassment, it is also problematic because it caters to a general ideal that understands women merely as objects to be analyzed and broken down by the male gaze. In the mind map of this logic, women exist exclusively for their bodies, and for the satisfaction of some male.
A woman wearing a swimsuit can’t just be left alone; after all, she is wearing a swim suit for your male eyes to break down every single part of her being. While I am all for being respectful and empathetic towards people who have different opinions, these principles can’t be applied here. You can’t use the principles of personal freedom and opinion to defend anything that amounts to sexism, racism, classism, or hate speech.
If you are sexist, say that, but do not cover it up by claiming that you are religious when you stare at a woman’s body because you are merely contemplating the beauty of an object created by God.
Encouraging this perception of a faction of the population that makes up approximately 50 % of Egyptian society – i.e. women – is potentially much more corrosive to any society than some party happening somewhere.