First I owe you all an apology I interrupted my series of History to wish Egyptians and the rest of the world a happy feast at the end of the holly month Ramadan it is a Muslim occasion and I’m not Muslim, but we are all Egyptians and most important HUMANS!
As a human I share sorrows and happiness with humans happy for their happiness and upset for their miseries this is how I interpret human rights!
I had a message to sent to my co-citizens and the rest of the world but due to lots of obstacles on top of them power problems - and no power = no internet therefore I can not even send my semi finished article- therefore I just got the time to send two words wishing people a happy feast!
As Ramadan finished with the first days of the feast I noticed some TV channels trends to revive old beautiful memories, old beautiful historic films and plays, and I noticed a series of short cuts between programs questioning whether Oriental Dance is an art or a shame! They do even give a brief review of different old historical Oriental Dancers like Samia Jamal, and Badia Masabni and many more, then someone posted similar question comment on Facebook and said women Muslim or Christian both see Oriental dance a big shame more exposure and less art!
With the term exposure I mean nudity and in this issue I decided to keep today’s issue for discussing this issue -Nudity and Art including Dancing-!
I remind the reader, this is an open subject, what I say is my own opinion if yours is different you are most welcome to share it on our site, and I’ll try to answer if I see it!
Oriental Dance in Egypt.
First Oriental Dance -OD for brief- comment or post on Facebook was talking about a heavy penalty for disrespecting our National Egyptian Flag imposed in the new constitution; in this issue the question was : Is a NON EGYPTIAN Oriental Dancer using the colours of our flag a sign of disrespect to our flag? The comments on this post included faltering the highest paid OD, popular and obviously daring dancer, it included insults like prostitute and whore! Here my comment was simple to the point, double standards criticise is not critics! You can not expect from non Egyptian to know or behave according to Egyptian traditions; What Egyptians see and judge as DARING is the norm in her country!
The second post the the main reason for this article was in brief saying:
Lot of people look at artists male and female with disrespect and great deal of hate specially DANCERS, this is the norm specially within women Christian or Muslim women see it the symbol of prostitution, while there is no civilization since ever did not had dancing and dancers -I may add starting with the most daring first ever stripper Salome mentioned in the Bible!- Pharaohs had dancers, we see them in their walls and paintings over the historical monuments; I’m not for OD but it is an Art, Arts are not only what I like but what I do not follow or like is greater than my artistic interests!
True I am not for classical music or Opera but who can deny the sixth symphony of Beethoven or Opera Aida as a great piece of ART? Arts is not on;y what I like or follow but every thing humans classified as ART!
Following this post a huge amount of comments started took me almost over an hour to read them all and see different points of views, some where just accepting the post some where just cementing on Arts and most of the comments where on two major issues which are Arts and Nudity, or Nudity in Oriental Dancer and there jumped to major names as the worst ever historical murders with their nudity Fifi Abdou and Dina!
In this issue I would like to remind you that since the introduction of the Egyptian Movie industry and up to early sixties almost each and every movie had some oriental dancing there were no restrictions for dancing or dancers up to some time late sixties early seventies when a first restriction imposed a thin veil almost transparent to be between the upper part and the lower part of the dancer’s dress making is a one piece dress, before the dancing dress would vary from a one piece large robe could even be the farmers national dress that look like a robe the so called JALABEYA, with any king of belt could be a scarf around the waist as a belt around the hips under the belly to emphasise to moves of the belly dancer however the most common dress was a large bra and a skirt like wearing from under the belly could have an opening showing the whole leg when the dancer wants to show it while dancing, nothing exceptional in this dress no nudity and with the opening in the skirt you still can not see the under pants or even have a glimpse of any portion of the breasts as the bra was large enough to cover the whole breast! The only nudity was the large portion of the body between the breasts and the lower part or skirt and with the new restriction even this was covered, so what happen and why as of a sudden oriental dance become banned by the public opinion and specially females that classify it as kind of prostitution?
Once again before trying to answer this question let me remind you with a historical event ex-president R.I.P. Nasser faced and even dedicated a part of his speech explaining the event which was the official demand of the general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood to impose veil on Egyptian females!
Socialist but not Communist
In my analysis taking in consideration the social trends of Nasser wanting to help poor taking from the rich, but then socialism was the other side of the coin of communism; Communism that said “Religions are the opium of people”, communism means you are atheist, and the region, the Arab world that Nasser wanted to be part of it is very much believers not atheists! With the numerous attempts on Nasser’s life by the Muslim Brotherhood which lead to the execution of their leader Kotb, and jailing most of them creating the most dark era of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt he risked to loose the solidarity and support of the Arab world, he is fighting Muslim Brotherhood, raised the flag of socialism then he must be communist for that Nasser tried to prove he is not communist creating the alliance with Tito and Nehro of the non biased countries and fought viciously communism and their parties in Syria and elsewhere even in Egypt being a communist was a reason to be arrested like Muslim Brotherhood!
Nasser replied the the demand of the general guide of Muslim Brotherhood to impose veil of Egyptian women asking him “Why you did not impose it to start with your own family why your daughter is not veiled?”
In this period with on going conflict of interests between Egypt supporting Al Yemen revolution and Saudi Arabia against it they saw in Nasser a real danger to their Kingdom, Nasser needed to prove to them he is not atheist he is very much Muslim and religious, as for ex president R.I.P. Sadat, he freed the Muslim Brotherhood that Nasser Jailed hopping to fight back communism with them but he ended up being their own victim!
New non Islamic Religious Trends
In this climate where officials risked to be classified as communists, they tried their best to prove how much they were religious and their best and first victim was ARTS in general that allowed Nudity, and the question is : Prostitution requires and includes nudity but is it always nudity part of prostitution?
I do not think even atheists accept prostitution as a way of living, or means of entertainment. And for sure nudity is not always part of prostitution, it depends on viewer’s trends and what he is focused too; body builders, a well known sport with international competitions, the body builder, male or female, shows the muscles he spend lots of time building them! To show the muscles they do need to be wearing very little clothes almost naked, some would even pose totally nude! Painters, side by side with their portrait and natural scenes they did draw human bodies and human naked bodies, is it classified as prostitution?
Pablo Picasso a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright in many of his paintings the nude model was none but his own wife and daughter, and I do not think any of them was ever a prostitute! So bottom line is that nudity in arts depends how the viewer see it, in arts you look at the whole body, if sex you focus on the genetic parts of the body forgetting the face the eyes the smile or even the tears, you just look the wrong way!
I final due comment to follow is about the supervisory system that rates movies as fit for public viewing or rated R18, PG14, PG12 and by the way PG is abbreviation for Parental Guidance meaning the parents should watch with the youth the movie to explain what needs to be explained not just ban the viewing because they have other plans no time for their child!
Back to our Oriental Dance between Art and prostitution When the majority of Egyptian women condemn this art as immoral, moreover calling specific names as the main reason for this judgement I need to remind the public that Fifi Abdou as an actress she did nude scenes but we never had a true real full view of her naked body, just naked parts leaving to the imagination of the viewer to make the whole picture and Egyptians in general they cannot understand the difference between real life and acting and I already explained that in previous articles! As for Dina she is an artist no doubts and if her sick husband did film their most intimate moments to put them on the net this is not her fault she was a victim.
This is how I see Arts, I loved music since I was a child, loved stories and followed soaps and serials on TV and the Radio before the TV, I even tried to paint and immediately found out I was not a painter or sculptor, but it does not prevent me from enjoying arts of all kinds!
May God bless you all if we need to rebuild Egypt we need first to review your principals in life be open minded and correct our views once proven to be wrong.
God Bless Egypt for a better tomorrow.