Post-revolution flirtatious banter flows through Egypt’s streets


The January 25 Revolution has become part of the everyday life of almost every Egyptian, single or married, and this is not only obvious in serious political talk, but also in jokes that now revolve around nothing else.

What is rather new is the way revolutionary vocabulary has entered into flirtatious banter and how revolution-related compliments from boys to girls have become commonplace in the Egyptian street.

“I am not into transitional periods. I love stability” is among the most famous banters that feature two of the words used frequently by politicians and average Egyptians alike, with some complaining of the length of the “transitional period” during which power is to be handed to a civilian power and others supporting the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ attempts to hand over power only after making sure “stability” has prevailed in the country.

The word “stability” was also used a lot before putting the new articles of the constitution to public referendum, particularly by Egyptians who voted “yes” for the amendments, assuming that this will bring about stability and speed up the drafting of a new constitution.

The frequent use of the word “Molotov” in the news, whether during the protests that preceded the toppling of the regime or throughout the post-revolution clashes between protestors and army officers, made it part of daily Egyptian speech, and it is now used in street banter to denote “ignited” desire and “fiery” passions.

The word “curfew” is used to symbolize the obstacles standing between a boy and his beloved. “I miss you, but the curfew is keeping me away from you” is one of the most popular flirtatious phrases boys say to girls in the streets. “Please loosen the curfew a bit” is another phrase used when a boy wants to tell a girl that she is being too hard to get.

“The people demand,” the most famous phrase used by the Egyptian people during the revolution, especially in the sentence “The people demand the toppling of the regime,” is now used to precede a series of a boy’s “demands” from a girl. “The people demand your phone number” and “The people demand a date with you” are among the most common usages.

The word “transparency,” used during parliamentary elections and in reference to the army budget that several politicians demanded be revealed, is also used in reference to girls’ clothing, while “security vacuum” is used to denote the circumstances that allow a girl to respond to a boy’s advances or the lack of obstacles that might hinder their union.

The expression “square ethics” is used to mean absolute decency, which is derived from the discipline observed by protestors during the 18 days they spent in Tahrir Square. However, in flirtatious banter they are used in a negative sense to mean a girl’s reluctance to flirt with a boy.

The expression “one hand,” used in the slogan “The people and the army are one hand,” is also used when a boy says he wants to get closer to a girl. “I wish we can be one hand,” he will say.

The same expression is used like a marriage proposal, when a boy would say, “I wish your father and mine could be one hand” referring to the part of the marriage ceremony when the fathers of the bride and the groom hold each other’s hands as they read verses from the Quran and agree on the terms of the marriage.

The name of Tahrir Square is used in a lot of talk, the most famous example of which is when the boy tells a girl that his parents went to Tahrir and she can come to his place. The “military court” and “prison” are used in the same context.

“I want to be as close to you as the cross is to the crescent” is a phrase inspired by slogans that called for unity between Muslims and Christians and which were always accompanied by banners of a crescent embracing a cross.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)