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Exploring the Coptic Body as Liberation

Our bodies were seized up. By persecution, by clergy, by words, by colonization, by a torn sense of self struggling to understand wholeness. For decades even. Longer than that. Periods of time that don’t exist in conversation but our torn psyche can feel its sharpness grate on our bare brown skin. Told to have pleasure through the divine power of god only. But what about the force of my hand? The brush of my fingertips? Why does it feel godlike then? Why does he understand the dip in my neck? The thickness of my back? Whose body is this?

All that is labeled undesirable is my first desire. All that said we need straight hair there and no hair there are rattled with fear. Where is that wholeness? Whose body is this?

Why is my own body forbidden? Why does the air that touches my thighs on the hottest day feel like an awakening? I want you to feel this too. Maybe you already do in your sacred moments. I don’t feel guilt anymore.

I feel obliged to this whole body.

Monica Isaac (she/her) grew up in the suburbs outside Detroit and currently runs a community coffeeshop and lending library in Detroit called Cairo Coffee.


My relationship to being Coptic and North African is one of cultural and regional identity. I've learned over the last 15 years to explore our indigenous Egyptian roots outside a conservatively religious lens and that has helped feed me politically, emotionally and globally.

Monica Isaac
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