Welcome to Kalamna, the student blog of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nawal El-Saadawi and Lipstick Idiocy

Egyptian writer and activist Nawal El-Saadawi has been making the rounds in NYC the spring, including a lecture and book signing last week here at NYU.  Now, here in Dork World she is more than kind of a big deal, so let's just say a few of my friends/colleagues were riled up like, well, me at a beer garden.

But my favorite encounter was between El-Saadawi and a friend from my undergrad days back in Madison, Paul (who is currently a PhD student at Rutgers).  I'll just let the picture and summary of their dialogue speak for themselves:

Paul: I'm from Wisconsin, and it was really great hearing you talk about the interplay between the protests in Wisconsin and Egypt.
Nawal El-Saadawi: You live in New York, though, right? Why haven't you started a revolution here?
Paul: ummmm....

That's right folks. Nawal El-Saadawi shamed my friend for not having started a revolution in NYC.  Bottom line: Nawal comes correct.

I also credit El-Saadawi for my fairly recent decision to start wearing obnoxiously red lipstick on weekends. Last semester in one of my classes we read The Hidden Face of Eve, in which she scrutinizes the demands placed upon women to look a certain way - including the demand that lips "have to be painted an appropriate hue" (111).  Me, being the moron that I am, as I contemplated her criticisms of superficiality and notions of beauty, I ended up thinking to myself, "Hey, maybe I've been leaning too heavily on eyeliner...lipstick has its strengths, right?" Cut to Friday night, and I'm rocking some paint in the hue of "Eternal Flame." 

Problematize that, my friends.

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