Photography, not only by imperial men but also by imperial women, has played a significant role in portraying the Muslim woman as the apolitical exotic of orientalist fantasies. The legacy of colonial photography by European women travelers continues to haunt the media of the global North even today. Such imperial feminist discourse on women in Egypt was blatant in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's December 2011 announcement of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security at Georgetown University, as well as in the rhetoric of Laura Bush, Cherie Booth, and Condoleezza Rice on the War on Terror and Afghan and Iraqi women.
In contrast, this article draws on the photographic counter-narratives, like “the girl in the blue bra,” that transnational feminists circulated through social media during the people's uprising in Egypt beginning in 2011 to evoke powerful images of women from the global south. It also examines the figure of the pan-Arab feminist Huda Shaarawi, who in 1919 organized the largest women's anti-British demonstration, and became in 1935 the vice president of the International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Equal Citizenship, and in 1945 the founding president of the Arab Feminist Union. Bringing these figures into conversation with Angela Davis's encounter with women in Egypt in her book Women, Culture, and Politics opens up new spaces for cross-border feminisms that cut across imperial legacies that continue to define relationships between women of the global North and the global South.