Via Ophelia Benson, a protest against sexual assault in Cairo turned to shit when a mob of men attacked the marchers. Benson asks,
What is the matter with them? What the hell is their point – that assaulting women is good? That women’s wish not to be assaulted is evil and deserving of punishment in the form of assault?
Yes, I think that about covers it. I think the assaulting men wished to convey the message that women who ask not to be assaulted are evil and will be punished with more assault. We don’t want them thinking they own their lives and get to leave the house whenever they want. Soon they might start thinking they’re actual human beings, or something.
My first thought about this is that it’s not that much of a leap. It’s no accident that the veil is such a gendered custom. The idea that women must be covered up while men’s bodies are allowed free rein is a feature, not a bug, of cultures that expect women to cover their heads. It’s rooted in the idea that men see, while women are seen, and therefore need to conceal themselves ostensibly to control the terms on which men see them.
So, it doesn’t take a very radical mind to look at that asymmetry and say, “well, guys, if the veil is not a problem for women to wear, why don’t you try it on?” It’s not as unhealthy as four-inch heels or as uncomfortable as a push-up bra or as tedious as eyeliner—although one of the guys pictured is also wearing eyeliner!—but it is nonetheless sexist. It doesn’t take a Master’s Degree in Gender Studies to notice the double standard.
What really gets my attention, though, is that the guys who are posting their pictures here must have some serious guts. They’re not covering their faces in those photos. They’re easily identifiable, and that could make them extremely vulnerable.