The Rape Gaze – Some Misogynistic Egyptian Movie Posters from the 70s & 80s
This week you might have found yourself sucked into the snarling call and response around Mona El Tahawy’s Foreign Policy article “Why Do They Hate Us?” and Samia Errazouki’s “You Do Not Represent Us”. These columns are triggers in a seemingly eternal shootout around the subject of the misogyny that is endemic and often institutionalized in the Arab world (and indeed all over the world come to think of it).
So as a sidebar conversation for any curious parties wanting to investigate the subject via ze movies, I’ve culled together a topical gallery of Egyptian cinema posters that display signs of what I’ll just refer to as ‘the rape gaze’.
Think Laura Mulvey’s ‘male gaze‘ hopped up on a Steroid/Viagra cocktail.
The posters range from exploitation typical of world cinema in the 70s to some decidedly snuffy looking fare in the 80s. Of course I’m not making an argument that this pattern is in any way unique. Quite the opposite, its evidence that Egypt’s film industry was running in parallel (if slightly behind) the sexploitation and rape-revenge explosion in western cinema and the birth of “Pinky Violence” in Japan.
1970s - Although some of the subject matter is dubious, there is an inherant sympathy towards the woman throughout the below titles. That is, until we get to 1977 and Virgin…But in which the woman’s …honor is cast into doubt.
1980s - No more sympathy pains here. By this time it’s everyone for themselves, right down to the spade-called-’spade’ Proclamation Against Women in 1986.
I am of the opinion that somewhere, somehow, somewhy there was a tipping point in the late 70s in Egypt and perhaps the greater region when the cinematic violence done to women seems to reach a higher pitch, no longer muffled by sensitivity toward’s the audience.
What do you think internets? Do these posters illustrate that attitudes and audiences changed? Is my pattern recognition all scrambled? How does this fit into the larger picture of gender politics in Egypt at the time?
Can we speak about this separately to the PTA-member-style debates about violence in video games?
Or is this just an obvious mass media arch that happened all over the world? LMK.
Bonus: Stay tuned for my next Egyptian poster collection: Girls with Guns.