Anonymous, 24 Apr 2014
Online Journal of the Virtual Middle East
Vol. 8, Iss. 1, 2014

Editorial

Arab Women’s Changing Identities, Activisms and Resistances in a Changing Region

The wave of uprisings which swept the Arab world in 2011 did not just instigate a "political awakening" that has shaken the power structures in a number of Arab countries and resulted in dictators fleeing their countries, resigning from office, or facing brutal death. Rather, it also instigated a "social awakening" that has shaken Arab societies' commonly held assumptions about gender roles and women's ability to challenge them. This was evident in the many heroic examples and iconic images of Arab women's multiple activisms and resistances, in both the political and social spheres, which stunned the world and earned its respect and recognition, as evident in the selection of Tawakul Karman, as the first Arab Nobel Prize winner ever, in what has been seen by many as a node to the "Arab Spring" movements, in general, and to Arab women's roles in them, in particular.
CyberOrient, Vol. 8, Iss. 1, 2014

Articles

Gendering the February 20th Movement: Moroccan Women Redefining: Boundaries, Identities and Resistances

The Arab Spring opened up social and political spaces for women to make demands for gender quality, political and social reform, human rights, and equality. It has produced, changed and reinvigorated contestations around space, citizenship, femininity, religion, and sense of belonging, as women played an increasingly significant role in the revolutionary processes and developments in the region. This article will analyze the online and offline communication strategies that the February 20th Movement employed to answer the following three questions: a) What is the nature of gendered based demands and how are they articulated in February 20th movement?; b) How did the movement’s activists discursively construct the gendered subjects and what are the material effects of the discourse; and lastly, c) What forms of expression, tools, and channels were used by Moroccan women activists to ensure the inclusion of gender-related issues and demands in political movement? To answer these questions, this qualitative study will take into account the prevailing political, social and economic contexts of Morocco, in an attempt to interpret Moroccan women activists’ experiences, demands, opportunities and constraints and how they contribute to redefining these women’s identities, subjectivities and resistances differently. It uses textual and visual analysis of mediated communication materials obtained from the February 20th movement digital campaign videos and website to document not only women’s representation within the February 20th movement but also explores the various ways subjects are materially and discursively constituted and circumscribed.
CyberOrient, Vol. 8, Iss. 1, 2014

Sowing the Seeds of The Message: Islamist Women Activists Before, During, and After the Egyptian Revolution

This article focuses on the activities and experiences of a group of Islamist women activists, socialized within the ranks of Islam Online Arabic (IOL). These activists engaged in a range of significant social, political, and media practices, before, during and after the ousting of Mubarak; as individuals, as journalists, as counsellors, as agenda setters and creators of media campaigns. Drawing on longitudinal and ethnographic research, this article is able to highlight and document the continuities in modes of civic engagement and activism across multiple media platforms, organizations, and time. It demonstrates how these women’s activism continues to be framed by the (IOL) trope the message, which entails cultivation of self, social, and political awareness. The Egyptian revolution is theoretically conceptualized as a phase of liminality (Turner 1979). Liminality entails upheaval, fear, and promise. The article draws attention to the gendered experiences of the revolution including circumvention of patriarchal structures and the re-negotiations of gender norms. Upon conclusion, it is argued that the message has proven highly adaptable to shifting political scenarios. Indeed, the betwixt and between stage of liminality that Egypt was thrust into after the ousting of Mubarak, was particularly fertile soil for sowing and reaping the seeds of the message.
CyberOrient, Vol. 8, Iss. 1, 2014

The Saudi Blogosphere: Implications of New Media Technology and the Emergence of Saudi-Islamic Feminism

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia serves as a protector of the social, cultural, and religious epicenters of the Islamic faith; Mecca and Medina. While other Islamic autocracies have fallen in the wake of the Arab Spring, Saudi Arabia and its religious and political elite remain. However, threats to their legitimacy are growing. Especially relevant are increasing calls for women’s rights. The Saudi Arabian public sphere of the pre-digital era had effectively banned women’s participation in public. More recently, the spread of Internet authored blogs has created a new public sphere for women’s deliberation. This study seeks to analyze how the Saudi blogosphere, as a public sphere of deliberation, provides insight into the emergence of Saudi-Islamic feminism through a critical discursive analysis. Three discursive themes emerge to identify how Saudi women negotiate identity and manage dialectical tensions stemming from their intersectional positions: displaying and defending iman (faith), repositioning the ʿulamā,ʾ and restoring Saudi history. Taken together these discursive themes detail a Saudi-Islamic Feminist perspective that is emerging in resistance to Western feminist frameworks and in defense of a distinctively Islamic claim to women’s rights, education, and equitable treatment within the public sphere.
CyberOrient, Vol. 8, Iss. 1, 2014

Women and Media: Libyan Female Journalists from Gaddafi Media to Post- revolution: Case Study

This article examines the representation of women in Libyan national traditional media before, during and after the February 2011 revolution that led to the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime. What roles did female journalists assume within national traditional newsrooms and how did these roles evolve from activism in the defense of women’s causes and the official revolutionary ideals of the former regime to spreading the message of the revolutionaries during the uprising? This article further reflects on changes in the nature of female journalists’ roles in the new post-revolution media landscape. The opening of the media market to private ownership for the first time in Libya’s history is accompanied by an expansion of women’s presence in Libyan newsrooms, where this increased visibility is to be viewed primarily as a mean of attracting audiences. In the shaky media landscape that characterizes the post-revolutionary period, this expansion reflects the clash between the conservative values of Libyan society and the liberal values of the open market. I argue that the growing number of women in national Libyan media post-revolution is not reflective of a general trend towards women’s empowerment in a country struggling with the spread of violence and the legacy of the past. Rather, the thorny process of restructuring national media post-revolution and the need for new media outlets capable of catering for large audiences are empowering the presence of women in newsrooms as a strong marketing asset.
CyberOrient, Vol. 8, Iss. 1, 2014

“My Life is More Important Than Family Honor:” Offline Protests, Counter-Cyberactivism, and Article 308

In summer 2012, protests erupted in Jordan in light of several high-profile enactments of Article 308 of the Penal Code, or “Rape Law,” that allows rape charges to be dropped if the perpetrator agrees to marry the victim, which were organized offline and aimed to create a groundswell of public support for changing gender inequities in society rather than political and legal structures. Users of social media were quick to deride and disparage the protests and protesters in highly visible and aggressive ways. This case demonstrates that the Internet can simultaneously act as a vehicle for resisting social exclusion and gender segregation through cyberactivism, while also serving as a mechanism for reinforcing preexisting cultural norms through, what I call, “counter-cyberactivism.” Such displays amplify the argument that the Internet serves as a space for online cultural performance of offline life, which enables the capacity for both cultural change and durability simultaneously. I conclude with the implications of this case for the online, virtual umma.
CyberOrient, Vol. 8, Iss. 1, 2014

Comments

Social Media As an Opportunity to Bahraini Women

Since the uprising in February 2011 the Bahraini female activists but also ordinary Bahraini women have emerged as new leaders in the society, and this due to the increasing role of social media. Their ideas, voices and activities have been receiving stronger support from within their - often conservative - communities. It is now more accepted by the public that the democratic transition cannot be achieved without the participation of women.
CyberOrient, Vol. 8, Iss. 1, 2014