There’s a new government-sponsored comedy channel in Egypt, Nile Comedy TV, which has created a humorous series of “non-commercial breaks.” One memorable example that made me laugh went like this:
Buy the Chinese sheep! It weighs 12 kg when alive, and 55 kg after being slaughtered. It’s fed on a diet of chips, so you can control the taste of the sheep by controlling the types of chips it eats. It comes in three colors: green, red and blue! It has two hearts, two livers, two stomachs and it has radio and bluetooth! It does not make noise and doesn’t move a lot, so it’s easy to slaughter. Surprise: You can slaughter it twice! And if you call now, you’ll get a free set of knives too! One shipping price, one set price. From Fahlway, where our motto is: ‘trick the customer.’
You get the idea.
But recently, they’ve come up with two commercials that alternatively make me a) roll my eyes b) very sad.
Here’s the first one, titled oh-so-humorously, The Electronic Harasser.
Let me break it down:
The guy sitting on the couch is asked a series of questions:
“Do you have a problem, and can’t harass girls on the street? Do you have the desire to get to know girls and not one of them gives you the time of day? You never know what to say or how? You have no experience? You’re afraid of a sexual harassment suit?”
The guy replies in the affirmative to all the questions. Not to worry, the voice tells us, a device now exists that is designed to help Egyptian men harass women on the street!
This amazing device (which you wear on a chain around your neck) has a camera that captures a picture of the girl you’re eyeballing on the street. It then analyzes her a) walk b) clothes and c) voice and gives you the correct harassment. So the examples we see are of the guy:
- Being explicit to the unveiled girl when the device tells him, “Don’t mind anything, you can be as explicit as you like.”
- Focusing on a veiled girl’s “respectability and beauty” when the device instructs him to harass her “gently and politely” (is there something wrong here, or is it just me?)
- Running away from the fat woman when the device tells him to.
The last shot of the ad is of the guy surrounded by half a dozen unveiled women.
I’m so sick and tired of harassment. All Egyptian women are. As we’ve all mentioned more than once, a recent study by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR) told us that in a country where over 80% of the women are veiled, 83% of women are harassed. 62% of Egyptian men surveyed admitted to harassment. 60% of the respondents (male and female) said that scantily clad women are more likely to be harassed though in reality 72% of the women who said they’d been harassed were veiled.
It’s so rampant we cease to think of it as a crime. It’s not even called harassment, “taharoush”, but the very light-hearted term “mu’aksa,” teasing. It’s verbal and physical. Only 2% of women who are harassed report it. 53% of Egyptian men blame women for bringing it upon themselves. Egyptian law doesn’t even mention harassment.
So let’s make it worse by creating a “comedic” ad that makes light of sexual harassment?! I’m not sure which would be worse: if this was an actual product or the fact that it’s supposed to be funny. The issue is already considered trivial compared to other problems Egypt is suffering from–how is this ad supposed to be funny?
And not only are we saying that harassment is normal, let’s make it worse: What message is the ad sending about veiled/ unveiled girls? That unveiled girls are okay to harass? That they will somehow welcome your disgusting comments?!
And wait, that’s not all. Here’s the second ad, this time for a Sexual Harassment Stopper. Girls, rejoice!
The unveiled girl sitting on the couch is asked:
Do you feel afraid when you go out into the streets? Do you face problems when you go out? Do you get annoyed from the “teasing” you hear?
When the questions are asked, although they are serious, the music is anything but, therefore not giving weight to the travesty of the situation: what does it say about a civilized society in this day and age where women are afraid to walk in the streets?! We see a cartoon of a busty, unveiled blonde woman, and the girl being asked the questions/walking in the streets being harassed is unveiled, subtly implying that it’s only the unveiled girls who dress provocatively who get harassed.
So the device will do three things: a) give the guy a headache b) give the guy an electric shock c) stop you from hearing what he’s saying.
And here’s the kicker: If you want to, you can turn off the machine so you can hear the “teasing.” Because of course, there are girls who like it, don’t you know? As if we need anything to further support the absurd belief that women “like it” when you harass them.
The device is also an insect repellent. And if you buy it, you get a free sexy dress.