Well, that was a good idea. When I was 18, I could dance with ease for the first time, and when I was 19, in my parent’s home, I closed my room’s door, wore forbidden items in a forbidden color: red gypsy flower, red shoes and floral stockings and my naked body. They are forbidden because they attract attention … They express individuality, when an individual, especially a woman, is supposed to hide any sign of an own identity … They show that I’m not ashamed of my body, and I refuse to carry the guilt of an alleged original sin. I took a photo and posted it on my blog later on 23 October 2011.
Now I’ll ask myself the same questions I get asked frequently and answer them:
Why don’t you protest in another way?
I did other things before I posted the nude photo and I continue doing them after I posted it. I was criticized for writing openly about my views, posting photos of myself wearing unacceptable clothes, photos with my boyfriend or creative photos a girl is not supposed to take of herself. but there’s nothing wrong with nudity. Nudity is used in art to express different things. In my photo, I express my defiance for the view that a female body is a commodity to be owned and controlled, so I don’t think I lowered my price by making a photo of my body available for free. Also, ”an action is stronger than a thousand words”, and a photo of a woman disobeying the idea that women are less intelligent sex commodities that exist for men is stronger than texts demanding bodily anatomy for women.
Do you think deviating that much from society’s norms can change it?
What else can change it? Refraining from disobeying or questioning the norms we want to change? Those who ask this question ask it because they would choose safety and social acceptance over freedom, but I prefer to be rejected for what I am, rather than be accepted for what I would be ashamed to be.
What reactions did you receive after publishing the photo?
I got both negative and positive reactions: Many controlling psychos felt threatened when a woman didn’t care to try to get society to view her as a respectful submissive woman, but got out of the system despite of all the pressure on women. I was cyber-bullied, legally prosecuted, threatened with death and rape, attacked several times in the street and kidnapped by two men and three women for the photo and for other things like leaving my father’s house and having a boyfriend. One of my kidnappers thought the only reason I resisted rape was that I wasn’t the right girl and I was a virgin protecting her virginity. Many sexists assumed that a man made me do it, because in their view, a woman cannot have enough agency to react this strongly. I also got support from many people world wide, but the messages I got from other Arab girls who shared their stories with me and made me know that I showed them it’s possible to be free meant the most for me.
Do you regret it? Why don’t you just change your name and live a normal life?
This question implies that my reaction is the problem, but what I’m reacting to and tolerating it is. I don’t regret it, and I would do it again, and again, and again.