#Says_Who? A campaign to challenge stereotypes in Egypt

#Says_Who? A campaign to challenge stereotypes in Egypt
Blog: A new online campaign in Egypt aims to get people to challenge stereotypes about gender and gender roles in society.
3 min read
26 May, 2015
From the campaign's Facebook page

Breaking stereotypes is the aim of the "#Says_Who" campaign, launched by Nourhan Moaz and Ghada Wali, who drew pictures of widespread stereotypes in Egypt and published them on their blog.

The pictures circulated on Facebook pages, such as Radio Tram, an Alexandria-based Egyptian online radio station.

The 26 #Says_who pictures included the slogan "think, accept, change" with faces of men and women. The campaign covered divorce, staying out late, smoking, clothes, hair colour and length, living conditions, sex, work, marriage and other issues.

The campaign asks questions like "Who says a girl who cuts her hair short is a 'tomboy'?", "Who says that a girl who goes home late is a 'slut'?", "Who says a guy and girl sitting together means they are in a relationship?", "Who says that you're not a 'man' if you cry?", "Who says people who work in the Gulf are 'millionaires'?", "Who says you're a 'man' if you take your rights by force?" and "Who says a girl who smokes is 'indecent'?"

Combatting stereotyping, changing culture

The slogan of the "#Says_who" campaign is "think, accept, change".

In a post on the same blog, the campaign founders said: "One of the important aims of the Egyptian revolution was not only to change the corrupt political system but also to eradicate and positively change corrupt fixed social and cultural beliefs."

They added: "The project aims to change cultural misconceptions and beliefs, combat stereotyping and labelling, generalisations and racism."

They said: "The main concept of the campaign is to correct or alter some traditional beliefs that are slowing down the development of Egyptian society, which are the main causes of its backwardness."

The campaign's hashtag has been trending on social media in Egypt over the past few days, as users expressed their thoughts on the campaign and called for thinking thoroughly about the questions raised. Users from other Arab countries also contributed to the trending hashtag, saying they share the same issues.

Social media users added their own questions to the campaign. "Who says girls cannot take up responsibilities?" posted Zubaida.

Another user tweeted: "Who says bearded men are terrorists?"

The #Says_Who campaign is not the first of its kind in Egypt. Two weeks ago, a company launched the #No_Stereotypes campaign to shed light on differences and stereotypes based on people's hometowns or place of residence.

However, the campaign veered into racist territory, according to various activists. A girl posted a picture of herself holding a sign that said "I am from Aswan, but I am not black", causing many to get angry, as many people saw it as racist.

Someone responded by saying: "I am from Aswan and I am black. What's wrong with that?", while another girl said "I am from Aswan and I am happily black."

The company denied any racist intentions in its campaign.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.