Bahaa-Eddin Mazid: "Deconstructing a Contemporary Egyptian Newspaper Caricature"



The present text belongs to the caricature genre in particular and to humorous discourse in general. The main requirements of a humorous caricature instantiated in the text include:

(1) a comic illustration,

(2) a mini-dialogue which contains a set-up — the woman's invitation plus the first part of the man's response — and a punch-line. Dialogue is of course not an obligatory part of a caricature, but most caricatures include a caption, a mini-dialogue, or a mini-monologue, as it were, and

(3) an example of incongruity the resolution of which creates the effect of the ridiculous or satirical.

A more significant case of intertextuality in the text relates to its content, namely, the representation of woman as sex objects, intellectually inferior to men. Feminist critiques of literary works (e.g., Mills, 1992), school textbooks (e.g., Kalia, 1982), and media texts and popular culture (e.g., Strinati, 1995; Mazid, 1999) have concentrated on what Tuchman (1981) calls the 'symbolic annihilation of women': how such texts "ignore, exclude, marginalize, or trivialize women and their interests" (Strinati, 1995, p. 180). Contemporary advertisements, fashion and woman magazines and popular movies still depict women as sex- objects, irrational, emotional, intellectually inferior, dependent and striving to satisfy men mainly through food and sex.

The present caricature text is no exception. The woman therein is represented not only as the sex object of masculine gaze, the semantic patient in her own utterance, and the available 'meal' ready to be eaten by the man, but also as having nothing to crow upon except her body. She is also represented as irrational; only an irrational Egyptian female "proposes" to a stranger. The man is represented as the opposite: formal, busy and following certain eating habits. The woman in the caricature is not only the object of symbolic annihilation by men but also an active participant in her own annihilation.

Page - 1     Page + 1

AS/SA Nº 9, Article 3 : Page 7 / 9

© 2000, Applied Semiotics / Sémiotique appliquée

E-mail to the editors
Pour écrire à la rédaction