Revolutionary Experience > Cat Call Culture

I spoke with many revolutionaries in Egypt, and heard several fascinating tales. But the ones which haunt me I heard for Gihan. They were the tales of her experience in Tahrir square and afterward. Of the extraordinary temporary community which was created and how the act of revolution changed peoples lives. And very specifically hers.

Gihan in Tahrir Square - Dec 2012 (post revolution)

Gihan in Tahrir Square – Dec 2012 (post revolution)

She recalls when she was first in Tahrir Square she held up a sign so it was in front of her face, so she would not have to be seen. And with time she dropped the sign lower, chatted with the people passing by and the media, inviting them in – to be part of what was become more inevitably their revolution as well.

Gihan circa 2010

Gihan tells of her experience of cat calling [this is the verbal harassment many people – mostly women – get from men they dont know on the street. Frequently, but not exclusively about their appearance]. Before Tahrir Square she would just walk away from this type of harassment, feeling it was ubiquitous and hopeless to change.

After the revolution she found herself doing something else. When someone cat called her, she would turn and face them and ask “Were we together in Tahrir Square?” Millions of people from Cairo and other places participated in this popular revolution at least for part of it. Everyone she asks says “yes”

Tahrir square in it’s hayday

“What you just did hurt me and I know you would have never done that in Tahrir Square.” And then she turns to walk away – but every cat caller, asks her to stop and apologizes. And I think more importantly, they likely retire from this type of harassment.

The courage it takes to tear down a dictatorship not only changes the political landscape of the country, it empowers and emboldens the people who make it happen to take on other cultural injustices which surround them.

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

10 responses to “Revolutionary Experience > Cat Call Culture”

  1. Jaz says :

    Inappropriate cat-calling vs. appropriate cat-calling: http://yellowcardis.tumblr.com/post/35869737695

  2. Joshua Eubanks says :

    pax, you are an inspirartion. So is Miss Gihan. Have fun.

  3. Will says :

    This will sound silly, but you are describing the Scouring of the Shire, from Lord of the Rings. This is why, as I developed political consciousness, I came to see that as nearly the most important part of the story.

  4. Angie Tupelo says :

    Reblogged this on Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History and commented:

    Like many women, I’ve been dealing with catcalling since I was in my early teens, and I’m heartened to see that not only is the personal political, the political is also personal. I wonder if there’s any American comparison to Tahrir Square, a way to get men in this country to stop and think about how this behavior can hurt women.

  5. rabbitmentor says :

    a powerful story my friend! Give my best to Gihan!

  6. anissa says :

    i love this story. words are so powerful. the energy behind them shapes them, and gives the words to power to heal or wound. Go Gihan.

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