In this paper, I provide preliminary answers to two main questions, namely: How did the politics of disappointment unfold among female activists after the 2011 Egyptian uprising and specifically under the current regime? And what were the effects of the strong sense of emotional disappointment on women’s activism and collective action? The study is situated within the literature on emotions and contentious politics. Utilizing the rich theoretical tools found in the literature, I argue that disappointment did not mark the end of politics and activism among women’s groups in Egypt. The data for this paper was gathered from semi-structured interviews with female activists, protestors, and leaders of women’s rights groups. The data gathered was analyzed within the prism of critical discourse analysis in an attempt to empirically investigate how activists move both forward and backward as they navigate their own emotions in addition to a crippling political system. It is true that the situation is complicated and activism is restricted in Egypt, however, the essence of this research is ignited by participants’ affirmation that their experience in the uprising has changed them, and that “things cannot go back to the old days,” notwithstanding their disappointment over the turn of events. A focus on hope and disappointment places the experiences of activists squarely in our analysis. It allows researchers to reclaim the voices of female activists in explaining the challenges and opportunities that developed post the uprising and how these developments influenced and shaped their experience, movement, and mobilization.
This paper interrogates the representation of women in the NEW YORK TIMES (nyt) coverage of the 2011 Egyptian uprising. In it, I highlight some of the ways in which Orientalist stereotypes were often manifested in the nyt representation of female protestors. The data for this project draws upon 224 news-stories published in the nyt during the 2011 Egyptian uprising. The stories offer a detailed coverage of the popular movement between January 25 and February 19, 2011. I carry out a textual analysis of news and commentaries, and read the text through the lens of feminist and postcolonial theories. My analysis suggests that traditional Orientalist motifs of passiveness coexisted along new ones of agency in the coverage. By evoking the myth of female passiveness and framing female activism as an exception, the nyt, I suggest, assuaged the effect of women’s activism in deconstructing traditional gender and geopolitical stereotypes. In so doing, the paper contributes to exposing how Orientalist discourses are able to reflect variation and historical shifts. It also extends the postcolonial feminist insight to new cases by offering a critical reading of women’s image in a key global news paper and amidst a period of change and uncertainties.