PDF Mona Eltahawy Ê Headscarves and Hymens PDF ☆ Headscarves and MOBI Ê

A passionate manifesto decrying misogyny in the Arab world by an Egyptian American journalist and activist When the Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy published an article in Foreign Policy magazine in 2012 titled Why Do They Hate Us it provoked a firestorm of controversy The response it generated with than four thousand posts on the website broke all records for the magazine prompted dozens of follow up interviews on radio and television and made it clear that misogyny in the Arab world is an explosive issue one that engages and often enrages the public In Headscarves and Hymens Eltahawy takes her argument further Drawing on her years as a campaigner and commentator on women's issues in the Middle East she explains that since the Arab Spring began women in the Arab world have had two revolutions to undertake one fought with men against oppressive regimes and another fought against an entire political and economic system that treats women in countries from Yemen and Saudi Arabia to Egypt Tunisia and Libya as second class citizens Eltahawy has traveled across the Middle East and North Africa meeting with women and listening to their stories Her book is a plea for outrage and action on their behalf confronting the toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend A manifesto motivated by hope and fury in eual measure Headscarves and Hymens is as illuminating as it is incendiary


10 thoughts on “Headscarves and Hymens

  1. says:

    Update I've finished the book I have a lot to say I'm thinking on how to do it I have a lot of problems with the author and find her wilfully stupid and also ignoring ways of helping end FGM because they don't suit her politcally When I think on how to say it I will write a reviewThere is a small herd of elephants in the roomThey are hiding behind the sofa that everyone is sitting on facing the author who is in full swing with her justified and passionate rant She can see them but she knows that so long as her audience isn't distracted and starts looking around she can safely ignore these huge beasts and escape awkward uestionsThese three elephants are Israel African Jews and Israeli Arabs with especial reference towards the Bedouin The fourth elephant no one has the courage to mention because it would be political incorrect and the greatest sin in the Western world is to give offence to any group because of race religion or gender Even when that is what we are not talking about Islam More when I finish the book Although it is heavy going because I do not like being lectured at and not allowed to uestion because if I do the author will shriek unpleasant names at me Islamophobe being the first and then several Then I will be told not to interfere with her culture and then I say but I am left wing and do not believe in autocracies of any kind and I will be told then I have to fight for women's rights and then I will sit down and shut up because she got me both waysThis is not a good book but it is a good subject and a good half of a debateAnd just as it happens I have been involved in the fight against FGM and with an Egyptian of influenceI was involved in group therapy at one time It became obvious to me that within a few meetings everyone in the group was aware of what everyone else's problems were but none of them could call it for themselves We have ears that listen but we do not hear That's what therapy is all about trying to get the individual to see how they behave and why they behave that way and what is at the very root of it and to address that It's a profitable business for therapists group or otherwise as everyone only wants to stick to their dearly held beliefs about themselvesI don't know how much this strident complaint about the appalling treatment of women I can take when the author absolutely refuses to address the root of the problem And everyone else is too damn PC to call it is as it isAnd the Middle East seems to be strangely short of one country as she tells itShe does not like how the Left wing of the West want freedom and self determinism for countries of the Middle East and Africa but ignore the plight of women putting it down to something cultural each ccountry must decide for itself But she herself is happy to ignore one whole country and how all the problems she has built a whole career lecturing publicising and protesting about are dealt with thereHi


  2. says:

    I was recently at a friend's going away party here in Paris and got into an interesting conversation with a woman from Algeria who mentioned this book to me She said that should had her hand over her mouth the entire time about how the author was groped during her hadj or hajj while she circled the Kaaba and how she was gang raped in Cairo during manifestations in 2011 following the Arab spring revolution there Her analysis of misogyny in the Middle East is precise and factual citing issues in her native Egypt but also Saudi Arabia where she lived as a child and teenager Libya Tunisia Morocco and elsewhere It is filled with both anecdotes and verifiable incidents of violence against women that is sanctioned by radical elements and yet unsupported by the text of the uran She covers the issues of the niab female genital mutilation FGB the overall repression in Saudi Arabia and it is a devastating account It was interesting to note that although we tend to think of FGM as a practice limited to Africa and Arabia that it was practiced in the US until the 1960s and in England as well Along with Adichie's We Should All Be Feminists it is a call to action that resonates particularly in the current environment under Drumpf of gender based attacks against women and specifically violence against Hillary Clinton re the re Tweet he made on 170917 of a golf ball striking HRC in the back I felt the writing was a bit dumbed down but the message was real and urgent


  3. says:

    Later addI think my review of this book has probably been rather biased in some respects Two comments were particularly good in restoring some balance to my perspective See below comments 22 and 24 I found this one of the most depressing books that I have ever read about female oppression It describes the state of Muslim women in North Africa and the Middle East There are small signs of rebellion and hope like the fact there are currently Saudi women at university than men But the overall weight of oppression described seems like a huge unmoveable leaden stodge of prejudice kept in place by centuries of religious and cultural practices It left me with a great sense of sorrow for Muslim women in these countries and an overwhelming sense of relief that I had been lucky enough to be born in a country where for the most part women are treated as euals The two main things that struck me were the ubiuity of female genital mutilation and the degree to which women are sexually harassed as they go about their business Apparently the worst country for this is Yemen where women cover themselves from head to toe This seemingly offers little protection Apparently levels of harassment have soared all over the Arab world Only a couple of days ago in The Times there was a note saying that 3982 harassment cases made it to Saudi courts in 201314 And this is in a society where nearly all blame for sexual misconduct is placed upon women on the grounds that they were being too provocative or were in the wrong place at the wrong time so think of all the thousands of women shamed into not coming forward The author says she was repeatedly groped in Saudi Arabia even when going to Mecca during Hajj pilgrimage Apparently in Yemen the main form of harassment is pinching I tried to visualise what it would be like to have a strange man pinching me but I couldn't To me it speaks of a contempt that is almost inconceivableAnother interesting issue for me was the big uandary for the author about whether or not she should wear a hajib There are various reasons she gives as to why women do or don't wear it but either way it often seems a big deal Here are some of the reasons why people wear it or don't wear it Piety the belief that the ur'an mandates this expression of modesty The wish to be visibly identifiable as 'Muslim' A way of avoiding expensive fashion trends or a visit to the hair salon A way to get freedom to move around in public spaces Women who don't wear veils tend to be harassed Some women fight their families for the right to wear the veilOther women are forced to wear the veil by their familiesSometimes wearing a veil is a way to rebel against a political regime or the WestThe author says I chose to wear the hijab at the age of sixteen and chose to stop wearing it when I was twenty five It is no exaggeration to say that the hijab has consumed a large portion of my intellectual and emotional energy since I first put on a headscarfThe author now supports the idea of a ban on the hijabI think this book is a must read Before I read it I had a fairly strong opinion that women were oppressed in a lot of fundamentalist Muslim countries but this book really drives it home with facts figures and examples and it makes the lives of these women very real It's so easy to think of women swathed in black and perhaps wearing buras as 'them' but they are not they are 'us'The author has had a cheuered upbringing living and studying in Egypt Saudi Arabia and the UK She is now a journalistactivist living in America promoting female emancipation in North Africa and the Middle East I am still thinking about something she said about Western Liberals When Westerners remain silent out of 'respect' for foreign cultures they show support only for the most conservative elements of those cultures Cultural relativism is as much my enemy as the oppression I fight within my culture and faithShe also makes the point that Islamophobes and Xenophobic right wingers are all too happy to hear about how badly Muslim men treat their women and this makes her campaigning difficultI will end with my usual splurge notes lots of them taken directly from the book view spoilerEgyptThe law gives men permission to beat their wives as long as it is with good intentions This means beatings that are not severe or directed at the faceIn a 2008 survey by The Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights over 80% of women said they'd experienced sexual harassment More than 60% of men admitted to harassing women Most of the women agreed that women should keep harassment to themselves to avoid ruining their reputationsA 2013 UN survey reported that 993% of Egyptian women experience street sexual harassmentThe Arab Spring in 2011whilst it overthrew a tyrant Hosni Mubarak it did not overthrow misogyny against women After that neither President Mohamed Morsi who was elected nor the military who replaced him have supported women's rightsAfter Egypt was liberated the author was sexually assaulted by security forces in November 2011 and beaten so severely that her left arm and right hand were broken She was also detained for twelve hours At least twelve other women were sexually assaulted during the protest None of them has spoken publicly about their ordealA 2013 Thomson Reuters Foundation poll surveying 22 Arab states put Egypt as the single worst country for women's rights gender violence reproductive rights treatment of women in the family female inclusion in politics and the economyThanks to the tireless efforts of women's rights groups finally in 2014 the state acknowledged the problem and criminalized the physical and verbal harassment of women In July five men were jailed for life for attacking and harassing women during celebrations of el Sisi's inauguration in JuneSaudi Arabia Things women cannot doDriveThings that women cannot do without permission from a husband or male relativeTravelOpen a bank accountApply for a jobGet medical treatmentWomen got the right to vote and stand for election in 2015 The Grand Mufti believes that women's involvement in politics will open the door to evil The religious clerics are also strongly against women driving In 2013 Saudi cleric Saleh Lohaidan argued that it would damage women's overiesAccording to a survey conducted by the King Abdul Aziz Centre for National Dialogue 865% of Saudi men blame women's excessive makeup for the rising cases involving molestationCountless Saudi malls are for families only barring single men from entryThe Saudi royal family gets its legitimacy from religious zealots and the royal family gives them especially big handoutsThe reasons that SA has so much powerOilIt has Islam's two most holiest places Mecca and MedinaIt controls the flow of petro dollars that funds the manufacturers of weapons in the countries of its Western alliesTunisiaThe best Arab country in attitudes towards women The first constitution to recognise men and women as eualHas women in parliament but they face a tough timeYemen49% of women are illiterate59% don't participate in the labour forceThere are no women in Yemen's parliamentChild marriage here is uite common There have been demonstrations here to support it than to oppose itGeneralThe World Economics Forum's Global Gender Gap Report cited Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa at the bottom of the list Not one of them is in the top 100 positions Yemen is the lowest ranking country in the worldWomen in Arab countries cannot marry or divorce without a male guardian's blessingChild marriages are found in the Sudan Yemen Egypt and Saudi Arabia hide spoiler


  4. says:

    I first came across this book at the Librairie Antoine in Beirut Lebanon where I was happy to find a shelf full of feminist literature mostly by Middle Eastern authors and some Western feminist literature as well Up until to this point I hadn’t really been aware of Arab or Middle Eastern feminists and it was high time to change this – Mona Eltahawy’s book was the right one to start with Written in 2015 it focuses amongst other things on recent events in the Middle East especially the Arab Spring in Egypt and its conseuences on the liberation of women As far as I know there is no translation into Arabic Are Arab editors afraid of publishing it? This is an important book which should be read by a large readership –– women and men in the Middle East and in the West as well I think Western societies should pay attention to the women and men in the Middle East who are even though still fond of their rich cultural heritage courageous enough to criticise aspects of their culture and religion which need reformI would like to share an important paragraph with you which addresses Europeans and Americans and might give you an idea why I think this book deserves five stars “When I write or give lectures about gender ineuality in the Middle East and North Africa I understand I am walking into a minefield On one side stands a bigoted and racist Western right wing that is all too eager to hear critiues of the region and of Islam that it can use against us I would like to remind these conservatives that no country is free of misogyny and that their efforts to reverse hard earned women’s reproductive rights makes them brothers in hatred to our IslamistsOn the other side stand those Western liberals who rightly condemn imperialism and yet are blind to the cultural imperialism they are performing when they silence critiues of misogyny They behave as if they want to save my culture and faith from me and forget that they are immune to the violations about which I speak Blind to the privilege and the paternalism that drive them they give themselves the right to determine what is “authentic” to my culture and faith If the right wing is driven by a covert racism the left sometimes suffers from an implicit racism through which it usurps my right to determine what I can and cannot say p28


  5. says:

    I have to admit I am conflicted about the whole complete veil the niab It just seems segregating in a way that simply covering your hair doesn’t do Further the men who seem to endorse it by and large are men that I never want to meet Yet I am American enough Eltahaway would undoubtedly say I am Western liberal enough that if it is a choice freely made than who I am to say otherwise And the key to that sentence is freely And it is too Eltahaway’s credit as a writer that she has gotten me to rethink me view on the public veil bans in some European countries Eltahaway’s point is that how can be choice when women aren’t involved in the debates about wearing it where the voice of the men in the community overrides and shock over the women Mansplaining in the worse case Undoubtedly her argument in this regard does have some weak points but it is a strong point and one worth thinking about it If you have listen to Eltahaway’s reporting on the BBC or her commentary on some American cable channels much of this book retreads those same points expanding on them in some cases and offering detailed reasoning Her focus here is mainly on Egypt understandably so and she keeps the focus mainly in the Middle East For the Western feminist there are plenty of women to add to your reading list making reading this book perhaps an expensive propositionOn one hand at some points in the book I wish there had been footnoting Despite this however there is passion in the book and Eltahaway does make you think about the role that the West plays Why do we stand up for the women of Afghanistan but not the women of Saudi Arabia? Is it simply the uestion of oil? How can the West help facilitate change? The uestions that she raises do not have easy answers


  6. says:

    It's hard and bizarre to see your ugly reality reflected before you so accurately Even incredible is to have a book speak to you so personally one that sounds exactly like your own internal monologue in the face of what feel like tyrannical life forces impossible to counter This book gives me the sort of hope I'm really afraid of having But Mona Eltahawy has documented our lives with an incredible mix of the public and factual and the personal and intimate I'm extremely grateful to her


  7. says:

    DNF because lost interest


  8. says:

    Growing up in the Middle East I’m no stranger to the way men sexualize girls and women I have been subjected to that myself and had to spend years actively rejecting these misogynistic inclinations that I’d subconsciously internalized over the years Despite my experience with this topic and despite opening this book with a good idea of what to expect Headscarves and Hymens made me furious It shed light on just how little respect men have for women in the Arab world and just how little regard men give the women in their lives This book lays out all the evidence to prove one undeniable fact women in our culture are seen as nothing but sex objects We are our holes ladies This position is reinforced legally culturally and religiouslyIf I could turn the details of this book into the timeline of a girl’s life it would look something like this A girl is born and from a very young age is told by her elders that they cannot wait to see her as a bride The only aspiration she grows up with is being desirable and chaste enough for a man to marry her She is then hidden away by her family either by literally not being allowed to leave her home without male permission or by wearing a niab and abaya so as not to accidentally entice the men around her If this doesn’t work and she is raped by one of these men her “honor” is stolen from her and she brings shame upon her family The rapist meanwhile can make amends and escape a jail sentence by marrying her When she is “of age” which in many cases can be as young as nine years old she is taken to a doctor or a professional cutter where her genitalia – the clitoris and labia minoramajora – is removed with what’s remaining being crudely sewn back together This is so that she does not engage in any premarital sex or search for sexual fulfillment before getting married including pleasuring herself Once married her ownership transfers from her father to her husband who has the right to beat her force sex on her and deny her the right to work The law will allow for this because the preservation of “family” is important than the preservation of her wellbeing If she wants a divorce she has to jump through hoops while her husband does not If a relative dies she receives half the inheritance of a man If her husband dies she needs the permission of her son or the next male in the family to remarryThis is obviously an extreme example created by using every cultural practice and legal entitlement described in the book but for even one of those things to happen to a girl in her lifetime is appallingThese laws are archaic These practices are horrifying These cultural norms have been in place for centuries So why are we not revolting?


  9. says:

    Be Warned this is one hard hitting book As a cautioning some parts of this book are emotionally difficult – on occasion I literally had to put the book down and take a deep breathWe all know that women have it tough the world over in all forms of sexual harassment Mona Eltahawy acknowledges this But in the Middle East it is far worse She was brought up in Egypt and Saudi Arabia She gradually started to realize as she entered adolescence the level of abuse she and other women underwent This book is about the treatment of women in Egypt Saudi Arabia Lebanon Jordan Morocco Yemen I wish this book would have had an indexIn the following discussion I use the word women but girls as in below 18 are also impliedHer overall diagnostic is that men hate women – at all levels the governments the opposition parties and the men on the street They all want to limit and control women’s lives They don’t want them to go out independently by themselves Saudi Arabia does not allow a woman out alone unaccompanied She must be with a male family member They do not allow women to drive a car And these are the nice parts of the bookThere is an interesting discussion of the hijab that covers the hair The author wore one for several years – and after much soul searching discarded it She despises the niab which covers the entire body apart from the eyesThe streets in the Arab world belong to men Harassment groping or worse is a constant There is a “purity culture” that wants women to remain at home and not be exposed to temptation The state assaults women with virginity tests Women can be raped on the street andor raped by the police ie reporting rape to the authorities can just lead to physical harassment This happened during Egypt’s revolutionIn many countries a rapist can be exonerated if he marries the girl in uestion Among other issues with this the rapist may be several years older Some countries have laws that will punish consensual sex between unmarried adults A woman alone is not permitted to stay in a hotel Couples have to present a marriage certificate to stay at a hotel The state vilifies women the street is physically intimidating to them – and the home has total controlPage 95 from a young Egyptian woman “Nothing is my decision And I have no power over anything My parents decide what I study at university and whom I’ll marryAnd then I saw those women on television talking about how they were assaulted and I understood that I don’t even have control over my own body – the state does”A woman has no autonomy over her bodyThere are also agonizing discussions on female genital mutilation a direct bodily attack denying women their sexuality Virginity and honor are sacrosanctPage 114 At the altar of the god of virginity we sacrifice not only our girls’ bodily integrity and right to pleasure but also their right to justice in the face of sexual violationAnd then there is domestic abusePage 144 Egypt’s penal code allows a man to beat his wife with “good intention”Shelters for women and children are unknown except for a few in Lebanon Divorce is controlled by ShariaPage 169 In Yemen and Saudi Arabia there is no minimum age for marriageThere are a few hopeful signs Some women are speaking openly about the abuse they have suffered Some affluent women in Saudi Arabia are breaking the law and driving cars There is growing indignation with FGM But in all cases these protests are opposed by the ever powerful religious forces dominated by menUntil the shackles of male domination and of religious indoctrination are broken – the road of women to euality will be long and difficult The governments in power and the Islamist religious groups who hold sway over the masses of people do nothing to empower women


  10. says:

    Mona Eltahawy's book Headscarves and Hymens is a manifesto intended to be a rallying call for feminists in the Arab world It is a sometimes compelling and freuently disturbing account of the ways in which misogyny leads to the brutalisation of women in the Middle East And I do mean brutal—there are a number of points where I had to pause in my reading because I was uite literally nauseated by a story which Eltahawy recounted Almost every single woman in Egypt has been sexually harassed at least once; 15 schoolgirls in Saudi Arabia burned to death in a school because the morality police didn't want them to be seen in public without the abaya and headscarf; female genital mutilation is still rampant Her take down of what she dubs purity culture—and its counterpart amongst religious conservatives in the US—is sharp and to the pointHowever I'm inclined to think that Eltahawy works better at essay as opposed to book length Those parts of the book in which she gives her first person account of how she was traumatized into feminism are compelling and sincere Yet beyond that her arguments and examples can be repetitive particularly as Eltahawy builds her argument less on any kind of ethnographic field work and on an aggregation of English language news reports and dry UN human rights reports There are also problematic elements of Eltahawy's work Is a sexual revolution the same thing as a women's rights andor feminist revolution? The point is never clarified Her definition of the they who hate women is slippery and shifts at several points in the book She provides the reader little sense of how nationality sectarianism social class geography or gender as opposed specifically to femaleness; she doesn't analyse masculinity at all affect the narrative she is constructing—while Libya and Lebanon for instance may have commonalities of faith language and culture they are also markedly different in many ways Would an author write of a Christian Europe that paired say England and Italy in such a manner? Eltahawy seems to be arguing for a misogynist pathology that is uniue to the Arab Muslim world but in order to set up that construction she needs to ignore the non Arab Muslim world and to avoid comparison with other patriarchal cultures I wasn't wholly convinced I'm also dubious about Eltahawy's demand for the niab and possibly even the hijab—she is not clear on this point to be banned She would claim that for someone like myself a white atheist westerner from a Catholic background to defer to a Muslimah about whether she veils is cultural relativism gone wrong By not supporting the niab ban in France I am implicitly supporting the oppression of Muslim women But I think it's a complex issue than Eltahawy presents here Legislating what a woman cannot wear is no freeing than legislating what she can And even on a basic level if a man is so repressive that he will not let his wife or daughter leave the house without the niab do you think he's going to just give in and let her go out in public without the veil or will things get worse? There are many Muslim feminists who choose to veil and Eltahawy is uite insistent that they're delusional Veiling she argues is uniuely imposed on women as a means of controlling their sexuality and erasing their personhood I don't think she's entirely wrong here—there are a variety of reasons why I could never see myself adopting a veil after all—but nor is she entirely right For instance she doesn't even begin to engage with Muslim cultures in which the men veil but the women do not the Tuareg Hausa Fulani etc An interesting book but very much the beginning of a conversation not the last word