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A young spirit turning old and bitter

Taken by Nelly Bassily,

Taken by Nelly Bassily, “Noone are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free” by Goethe

Source: Talking Personal

Young movements. That’s what they call us, young activists starting from the 20s till maybe mid or late 30s, when we organize around a certain ideology. We remain ‘young’ till we we turn ‘old’ and bitter. A couple of years back, when the revolution transformed our lives, each in a unique way, there were several groups organizing, including men and women who believed that feminism is their common ground. I will not speak in the name of Egyptian feminists, neither will I claim to know all the feminists in this country. I will speak of an experience, that was promising and inspiring to many, that turned bitter, also to many.

For some reason, not only government officials or politicians forget what they say when they say and do the total opposite years along the line. We too forget. We complain about NGO-ization, donor oriented funding, about those figures and organizations dominating the space and excluding younger ones, endorsing other people’s initiatives only to get it under their umbrella. We start to forget when we get older, and become bitter. We become bitter when the little years we invested in becoming what we are turns out not enough. We become bitter when we no longer become the only ‘new’ voice, no longer the sole ‘alternative’, and no longer the sole ‘progressive’.

Then a young movement confine itself in an NGO, use donor’s language to get funds, try to suppress small and ‘young’ initiative, constantly trying to dominate the discourse around the issue, and discrediting others who claim to have a different or opposing opinion. We become old when we think we are the sole bearers of the truth, and of what feminism means.

We become old and bitter when we think we can count on good beginnings and ‘knowing people’. And this is when we start to go against all the values, and on the top of it feminist values, that we used to speak of. Sisterhood, solidarity, agency, standing on my sister’s shoulders. Sisterhood starts to kill when feminists start to trash each other, and sisterhood starts to destroy when they do not believe in the agency of your choices – as long as it does not correspond to theirs. We forget and we claim to be inclusive, progressive and encouraging. We forget and we turn old, bitter and harmful to our own sisters. Then we betray feminism.

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