This compelling image of womanhood on the frontline has done its work. Now let’s look at the nuances it erases
It was the image that finally drew the eyes of the world to Sudan’s revolution: a young woman, swaddled in white, standing on top of a car with her hand aloft and a finger raised in rebuke as she addressed protesters gathered around her. A sea of mobile phone cameras beneath her lights up the dusk. The Sudanese had been protesting against the now former president, Omar al-Bashir, for months, demanding the fall of his government, but with little global media attention. Until that image. It cut through. Within hours, the picture had been circulated at dizzying speed. Media outlets rushed to determine who the woman was. What did her outfit signify? Sudanese people on social media provided explanations. She was dressed in homage to a generation of Nubian warrior queens; her white toab, a Sudanese cloth wrapped round the body and looped over the head, was a nod to the uniform of the average Sudanese working woman. The actor Halle Berry posted a picture. The US congresswoman Ilhan Omar tweeted it. The New York Times’s fashion director wrote a feature on the girl wrapped in white. She became an icon of the protest movement and of womanhood on the frontline.
The woman in white is now at the sharp end of a misogynist harassment campaign from change-averse parts of society