About-Face BlogGender InequalityOn The PulseWomen of Color

Egyptian women are protesters too

By February 11, 2011 3 Comments
Who's to say the woman in this photo isn't a protestor too?

Who's to say the woman in this photo isn't a protester too?

By now, everyone on the Internet has heard of the protests in Egypt.

Powerful and moving images saturate the media, bringing us face to face with these brave women and men.

The New York Times offers this image on the left. The caption begins, “A protester consoled a woman during a demonstration.”

Okay, let’s break this down.

A protester? I see two.

A woman? Oh, now I get it, New York Times. The man is a protester. The woman is…a woman.

I seriously doubt that this woman found herself unexpectedly in the center of a protest, unless she was taking an extremely scenic route to her kitchen.

And is her hand, pressed against her compatriot’s chest, not just as capable of offering consolation? Couldn’t the caption as easily read, “A protester consoled a man”?

As Melissa McEwan notes in her blog at Shakesville, there is a coded misogyny in our use of language that reinforces the status quo.

This is the problem that gives us the terms “Female Doctor” and “Male Nurse:” what is implicit is that unless otherwise noted, your doctor is a he and your nurse is a she.

It also creates the assumption that, found holding each other in the middle of a rally, the man is most likely a protester and the woman is most likely in need of consolation.

But these images tell the truth of it:

These revolutionaries are inspirations to us all. Can you tell what the readers of this blog have in common with these freedom fighters?

That’s right. We are all comrades in the struggle against oppression.

How do you protest?


Heidi Heilig is a bookwriter, lyricist, playwright, and journalist born in Hawaii and living in Brooklyn. She holds a BFA in Drama and an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. When she’s not arguing on the internet, eating cookies, or writing songs, she can be found contributing to the About-Face blog. Check out her website at http://www.heidiheilig.com.