I can honestly say there has never been a time when I have felt so proud for being an Egyptian and a WOMAN as I do right this second!
This feeling started with the beginning of the Jan25 Revolution, but every day, it keeps growing. I've watched Egyptian female activists on television, calling for demands; I saw them chanting in Tahrir Square, side by side, with the men; and I continue to see them tweet and Facebook with updates and developments from Egypt.
I remember when I first came to the US in 2000, some people would ask me about the status of women in Egypt and in the Arab world, and I would always try to convince them that not all women are oppressed and helpless as the Western media usually portrays them to be. I say "convince" because it does take quite some convincing and many times, that doesn't even work. For years, the West has portrayed the Arab woman as someone who is oppressed, helpless, ignorant, and a victim that needs saving. It gets worse if this woman wears a veil, which is a large bulk of the female sex in the Arab world!
So when Jan25 started, I was so happy to see networks like CNN and prominent newspapers such as the New York Times pay serious attention to events in Egypt, which in turn, introduced Western audiences to a new face of the Egyptian woman.
Then came the Lara Logan incident to interrupt my moment of pride in the most disturbing and painful way! I felt anger and shame that this sexual harassment incident was happening at the same place that was my source of pride. But I felt more anger towards the Western media, which once again, went back to the old recycled stereotype of the oppressed Arab woman. For more than a week, media ignored events related to the Jan25 revolution to focus instead on sensational details of sexual harassment in Egypt and the women of Egypt who fall victims to it.
Yet, what many of these reports failed to mention was that it was Egyptian women who saved Logan by crowding over her and covering her with their own bodies to protect her. These are the same women who were revolting in Tahrir Square and the same women who got injured, just like the men, in clashes with anti-protesters.
These reports also failed to mention that, while sexual harassment is common in Egypt, it is also practiced in the most civilized and liberal countries, including the US. Documentaries like War Zone and Picture Me are enough proof that this is a problem facing women everywhere! Does this mean we should refer to all women of the world as oppressed victims?
Back to my moment of pride; I was able to recover from this harsh interruption and go back to enjoying my new sense of pride. I still feel this way, but even more so now.
I always knew that there are many Egyptian women out there who are strong, independent and not afraid to voice an opinion or enforce change. But I also realized that Jan25, was giving Egyptian women a stronger voice and encouraging those women who were hesitant or fearful in the face of injustice before Jan25 to join in and stand up to their oppressor!