Beautiful! Bad! or Revolutionary? State of Representation of the Disobedient Body of Middle Eastern Woman in the Street at the Revolutionary Moment

Maryam Foroughi | Freelance Journalist and Researcher,  Iran

The Middle East has been the scene of many political and civic movements, at least in recent decades. They were never out of sight of the media or the academic analysis. The issue of the presence of women at the heart of these protests, with their fists clenched, standing on the pavements prompts me to relook at these movements. The revolutionary moment – regardless of the result – is the scene of disobedient bodies in public spaces.

The same body that breaks the rules of the dominant discourse under the gaze of empathetic or opposing observers. Establishing a disorder – in Gramsci’s literature – that may or may not confirm the new order! The body, and feminine body in the public space, which is symbolic, this time through its presence on the street is entitled to meanings that may not have been attributed to it before. But here is the question: Has this disobedient body emerged suddenly through a revolutionary moment in the street? And what are the characteristics of these public spaces as a platform for protest?

The focus here is on the representation of Middle Eastern protesting women in their domestic media as well as foreign media. The colonial view of the mainstream media in portraying them – as women always one step behind men and wearing hijab – is severely challenged at the moment of the protests. We can find examples from Iran to Morocco, Turkey to Yemen, and These days Afghan women on the streets as the vanguard of protests against the Taliban. A form of street presence that does not explicitly conform to the dominant representation of the mainstream media and nor is covered in many media in the Middle East. In this essay, I try to refer to several famous photos of the protests in the Middle East and the presence of women in them. While examining the representation of the revolutionary woman in the domestic and foreign media. I aim to interpret the neglected aspects of the presence these disobedient bodies in “Revolution Street” and their representation on social media.