In her talk “Couldn’t help but fall asleep while you were mansplaining”: Reclaiming power through Arabic Feminist comics”, Maya El Helou will discuss recurring queer and feminist struggles in the Arab world, and will put forward a critique of the global feminist trends and of the category of “Arab Women” and “Queer Arabs”. El Helou’s pop art comic page “Kharabish Nasawiya” (comics killjoy) works on revamping pop art by giving it a feminist twist. The page aims to carve out a feminist space online while deconstructing salient structures of oppression through humor in colloquial Arabic. “Comics Killjoy” uses humor as a register of critique to patriarchy and its intersections with other systems of oppression. The author will explore the strategies and the challenges of putting feminist and gender theory into pop art comics as a way of producing alternative feminist knowledge in Arabic.
Maya El Helou is a feminist researcher, a comic artist and the author of the page “Kharabish Nasawiya”. She holds an MA in Gender and Women studies in the Middle East and North Africa from the American University in Cairo. She is currently a consultant on gender and sexuality at the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality, a researcher on the “You Stink” movement in Lebanon at Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung and a lead researcher consultant on hate speech against LGBTIQs in the MENA region at Article 19. Her research interests include gender, sexuality, social movements, migration, as well as the bridging of academic knowledge with activism, which is reflected in her comics.