The Rape Gaze – Some Misogynistic Egyptian Movie Posters from the 70s & 80s

Rape – 1989

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.

I Am Not A Wanton Woman – 1971

Female and the Wolves – 1973

I Want a Solution! – 1974

Missing Women – 1975

Virgin…But – 1977

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.

Stranger in My House – 1981

Rape – 1989

The Prey – 1985

Proclamation Against The Woman – 1986

The Rapists – 1989

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.

3 Responses to “The Rape Gaze – Some Misogynistic Egyptian Movie Posters from the 70s & 80s”
  1. Hind Mezaina says:

    Brilliant blog post Sophia. Looking forward to Girls with Guns.

  2. No, crime dramas need a villain. Crime dramas are a war between good and evil. Portraying the evil villain as really, really evil just makes the battle to overcome the villain and defeat him (or them) a bigger battle and a better morality play. In the sci-fi movie INDEPENDENCE DAY, there is no rape involved, yet the heroes take on and conquer an interstellar empire with super-advanced weapons. There must be an enemy to defeat.

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  1. […] display was a short looping video on an iPad, also by Sophia al-Maria, entitled “Rape Gaze“. In three minutes, the screen repeatedly zooms in on dozens of what she describes as […]

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