When Doaa El Ghobashy and Nada Meawad played their first game of beach volleyball at the Rio 2016 , a photo of El Ghobashy and her German team rival went viral – not because this is the first time Egypt is participating in beach volleyball, but because of the contrast in clothing between the two women.
Cue floods of comments, articles and posts either celebrating the ‘coming together of cultures’ or the ‘clash of cultures’, with some unpleasant people celebrating Germany’s win as a win for ‘Freedom’. We can’t help but roll our eyes.
While many bemoaned the Egyptian’s supposed lack of comfort in the Brazilian heat, El Ghobashy told Yahoo Sports that her choice in taking the veil doesn’t keep her away from doing the things she loves, including beach volleyball.
Beach volleyball uniform regulations were relaxed before the 2012 London Olympics as a way to open the sport up to more cultures that may have been uncomfortable with the bikini and tiny shorts uniform.
Over here at Cairo Gossip, we just find the whole hoopla over the veil-versus-bikini issue typical of women’s beach volleyball, where we spend more time fixated on sexualising or criticizing the female players’ bodies rather than watching them actually play. And since we don’t hear jack about the men’s volleyball uniforms – they don’t have to parade in crop tops and tiny briefs, FYI – is it fair to make such a big deal about what these women chose to cover or reveal? No, it’s not. Would El Ghobashy be all the rage in Egyptian media right now had she not been veiled? No, probably not. If we’re going to focus on and celebrate a sportswoman, should that focus and celebration not be on her achievements a sportswoman? Yes, it probably should.
By Samar El Shams