This is an essay I wrote a few years ago… Abstract The Islamic religion is well known for its universal laws of abstinence before marriage, no toleration of alcohol, and other such distinctions. Despite these universal laws that Muslims hold to there are varying beliefs related to gender perspectives which change from one society to the next. The well known migration of Muslim families to Western societies such as Great Britain and the United States has played a key role in the differing attitudes Muslims have toward gender relations as they have become more integrated in cultures outside of the Middle East Read,
Oprea Follow mgoprea April 26, 5: Eltahawy argued that in the Muslim world women are treated like animals by men who disdain and fear them. In the wake of the Arab Spring, she called for a shift in focus from political leaders who oppress their citizens to the men who oppress women in the streets and at home.
Her words prompted angry responses from many on the Left who are loath to blame one religion or culture for this miserable state of affairs.
Combining her own experiences growing up in Egypt with examples of injustices across numerous countries in the region, Eltahawy paints a picture of a world that is dangerous and unjust for women, and covers issues such as veiling, virginity, rape, harassment, domestic abuse, and equal representation before the law.
Veiling has received the most attention in the West, and especially France, where it has been hotly debated. Her shock and horror led her to believe that if she covered herself she would be protected from sexual harassment. As she got older she convinced herself she was expressing her feminist right to choose the veil.
Today she sees this logic for what it is: But the issue of veiling in the Muslim world often overshadows the far more serious problems of harassment, rape, and domestic abuse.
According to a UN report, Eltahawy calls the public space "uniquely dangerous" for women in the Middle East. In this way, women are pushed from public spaces into the Middle eastern women essay, allegedly Middle eastern women essay their own protection.
But it is here that they often face the most danger. More than 40 percent of women from Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon—purportedly the most progressive states in the region—have reported being victims of violence in the home. Because personal status laws tend to be based on sharia in these countries, women often face difficulties having charges brought against their spouses.
At the time of this writing, only Jordan, Mauritania, and Tunisia have laws that address domestic violence, although Eltahawy argues that they are rarely enforced. Eltahawy describes the horrifying reality in the Middle East, where rape victims are often more stigmatized than rapists, and where women can be punished as "fornicators" under the zina, the part of Islamic law that has to do with unlawful sexual intercourse.
Perhaps most upsetting is the prevalence of rape victims who are persuaded to marry their rapist. This is done so the rapist avoids facing charges, and the woman can restore honor to her family by keeping the loss of her virginity linked to only one man. This puts women in the often dangerous position of either marrying the man who attacked them or facing honor crimes, possibly murder, at the hands of family members.
This brings Eltahawy to one of her central points, which is that the Middle Eastern world is obsessed with virginity: They hate us because they need us, they fear us, they understand how much control it takes to keep us in line, to keep us good girls with our hymens intact…" Men, even "moderates," view the hymen as the source of insatiable sexual appetite that leads women into sin and disrepute, she argues.
This is what results in the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation. Eltahawy aptly points out, however, that it is men who seem to have the uncontrollable urge to harass and molest women in the streets, not the other way around.
Because of this, women are told they must cover up their bodies in order to help men control themselves.
When clerics in Yemen justify, and indeed encourage, marriage to children, they site Mohammed taking Aisha as a bride when she was a child.
To start a sexual revolution and overthrow the patriarchy that exists in the home, streets, and minds, women must share their personal stories. The Middle East needs to confront the issues of "sexual freedom, shame, and honor" and end what she calls an alliance of oppression between the state and the street.
Eltahawy, while bravely exposing the position of women in the Middle East, also has an unfortunate tendency towards conflation in her treatment of western societies. She describes the "bigoted and racist Western right wing" in America as being blind to the fact that their efforts against "reproductive rights" are just as misogynistic as the abuse faced by Muslim women.
She later compares teaching in Oklahoma to being in the Middle East where "a similar mix of religion and conservative politics prevailed. Such equivocation is dangerous.
At one moment Eltahawy will point to Islam specifically, while at others she claims that Muslims, Christians and atheists all treat women abhorrently in the Middle East, seeming to make an argument that the fault lies with the culture at large, not the religion.
She calls for Muslim and Christian societies to break with tradition when it comes to virginity and pre-marital sex, glossing over the fact that women in Christian societies are rarely killed by their male relatives for becoming sexually active before marriage.
Nor does Eltahawy give any examples of discrimination or violence toward women by Christians or secularists in the Middle East and North Africa. Thus, she never fully engages the question of how the predominant religion in the region, Islam, is directly involved in the oppression of women, other than its use and abuse by men.
Eltahawy thinks that the Muslim world needs to make the connection between "the personal and the political, the home and the street, and the street and the state," in order to improve the situation for women there.
But without confronting the roots of the problem she identifies, her solutions can only go so far. This entry was posted in Culture and tagged Book reviews.The Real History of the Crusades.
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