Blog Post 6: Oral History By Ramy Mohamed

Wafaa Mohamed

For this post I decided to interview my mother, Wafaa Mohamed. During the 70’s my mother was 9-19 years old and lived in Alexandria, Egypt.

Q: when you were living in Egypt was there any women’s rights activists?

A: Yes, there was but that happened after the Russian alliance.

Q: Why did Egypt ally itself with Russia at that time?

A: During the 70’s Egypt was at war with its neighbor Israel and seeked an alliance since Israel had an alliance with England and France.

Q: How did Russia cause social change during this time?

A: Well, before the alliance women were much more conservative and by this I mean women wore conservative clothing, women mostly wore chanel lengths(a skirt or dress that went past your knee). Once the alliance was formed cultural appropriation occurred. During this time there was more emphasis on women to show their beauty rather than hide it. Women decided to embrace this new change and wore mini jubes and later micro jubes(a type of skirt or dress that was above the knees).

Q: How did this effect society?

A: This caused a lot of conflict within Egyptian households, the elders/parents of women would argue with them and try and convince them to be more conservative with their clothing. That they should revert back to chanel lengths and that skirts were far too revealing and thus shameful. I heard stories of women being disowned by their families for failing to change their appearance.

Q: Did any policies/ laws change because of this?

A: Yes, laws for divorce and custody changed after about ten years of cultural appropriation.

Q: Did you decide to embrace the new fashion trend at the time?

A: I was very interested in fashion back then as I am now, So yes I did. I kept it a secret from my family to avoid conflict. I would wear a long skirt and fold it once I was away from home.

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