Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Egyptian 'Kardashian' with a Konscious?

Aliaa Maghda El-Mahdy is a 20-year-old dissident blogger from Cairo. The college student describes herself as a “secular liberal feminist vegetarian individualist Egyptian,” according to the Daily Beast. (She writes in Arabic, so we'll just have to take their word for it.) Few cared that El-Mahdy was a secular-liberal-feminist-vegetarian-individualist-Egyptian until she started posting nude photos of herself on her blog, "A Rebel's Diary." This has allegedly "set off a firestorm in Egypt and in the Twitterverse of Arab dissidents." The post featuring the nudes also generated over a million page views overnight. Since El-Mahdy is kinda hot, I suspect that number will quadruple in the next 24 hours (thanks to the Beast story). She goes the Full Frontal Monty in one photo. In another, yellow rectangles cover strategic areas of her body. She writes (again according to the Beast): “I took my nude photo myself in my parents’ home." As if she wants us to believe that daddy approved. "The yellow rectangles on my eyes, mouth and sex organ resemble the censoring of our knowledge, expression and sexuality.” Uh huh, sure it does. So why my skepticism? Well, for one thing, El-Mahdy's "blog" is comprised of a single post. Then there are the other "dissident" photos it contains. In one, she poses freshly out of the shower with that oh so familiar come-hither look. Granted, it's probably just me ― but the revolutionary fervor spawned at Tahrir Square just doesn't leap to mind when I study those wet pouty lips. To be fair, El-Mahdy could indeed be an artist-provocateur whose, um, "body of work" is designed to raise political consciousness and not just, ahem, something else. And since nothing concentrates the political mind like a naked female, why use the power of prose to erect change when you can just strip and (theoretically) do the same thing? Think PETA. But if I were a betting man, I'd wager that El-Mahdy is mostly a Kardashian with a Konscious ― i.e., yet another web-savvy exhibitionist seeking attention. Naturally, it's working.

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