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Developing nations throughout the world have an abysmal record in granting women equal rights or protecting them from harm. This does not mean that developed and industrialized nations are immune from this phenomenon, but generally they fare better in their treatment of women according to human rights reports.

Mona Eltahawy an Arab-American feminist has recognized this abysmal record in her own society and in Foreign Policy Magazine wrote a piece titled: Why Do They Hate Us?

The intent of the piece it seems was to raise awareness of severe women’s rights violations in the Arab world. But the piece failed miserably and Mona was called everything from an Islamophobe to a native informer.

I don’t believe she deserves any of those names, simply because her past record displays the contrary.  

But the piece does have its problems namely as Asad Abu’Khalil aka Angry Arab noted on his website:

Her sole argument on why women are oppressed in the Middle East, since this is a special place in the world where only backward thinking can be found, is because men and/or Arab society hate women.
The problem with Mona’s thesis is that she either downsizes or fails to mention the importance of Arab men fighting on behalf of women in order to alleviate some of these transgressions against women.  

I believe Mona bursts her own thesis by positing one single line in her article.

She claims:

“Qaradawi has since issued a fatwa against female genital mutilation, but it comes as no surprise that when Egypt banned the practice in 2008, some Muslim Brotherhood legislators opposed the law. And some still do -- including a prominent female parliamentarian, Azza al-Garf.”

I am not a fan at all of Qardawi, to me he is a religious extremist. But can Arab men be all that bad Mona when even a religious extremist with whom I am pretty sure you don’t see eye to eye is fighting your battle and is voicing the same opposition?

And can Arab men be all that bad Mona, when the illegalization of female genital mutilation occurred under the masculine-dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, and a male dominated parliament?

Of course there are those who opposed the law, but more were for it, which is why the law passed in the first place.

Having said that, I feel for Mona. I know where her anger is coming from and why she feels a need to dispense catharsis. She was beaten and sexually assaulted in Egypt and she saw and/or heard the degradation of her mother and sisters while Egyptian society turned a blind eye for too long. But if you engage in sexism to combat sexism or bigotry to combat bigotry, you probably won’t get a very supportive audience to heed your message, simply a volatile reaction.

Finally let me be clear that all of the things Mona mentions is a terrible wrong and needs to be corrected by Arab society as a whole. But there is no need to isolate men from this effort.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Despite being illegal, female genital mutilation (12+ / 0-)

    is still done to 80% of women in Egypt.

    Female genital mutilation rife in Egypt despite ban
    Wednesday, 15 February 2012

    Nivine Rasmi admits that the campaign is facing difficult times. The result of Egypt's first free, democratic elections has seen two thirds of the Lower House of Parliament dominated by Islamic parties - the Muslim Brotherhood and the more hard line Salafis.

    "Of course we fear this new parliament won't tackle issues like FGM because already there are extremists who want FGM unlike the previous regime," Nivine said. "We know that there will be a decline in women and children rights with this new government and parliament."

    •  it remains rife among the entire region (5+ / 0-)

      because men still are taught that without the mutilation, women will be promiscuous because they cannot control their sexuality.  It is only after such mutilation that a woman can control her sexual urges and remain faithful.

      Until that particular cultural norm is challenged will there be any change.  Judging from a handful of cases in the US, it seems this is one of the stronger social mores in these societies.

  •  I thought it was a useful article (16+ / 0-)

    And I do think that there is something qualitatively different (if not quantitatively different) about oppression of women under the more dominant current interpretations of Islam. It's rooted in a desire for control over female reproduction, but it really does go beyond that.  

    The criticism of the article seems to be "hey, us men aren't that bad", which is true in a limited sort of way but does'nt rebut the fact that the religion as practiced focuses so highly on spiritual polution with respect to women's bodies, and on the inherently inferior role of women.  Of course a Muslim man may love his wife as much as any man of another religion.  Of course, men also work with women to change attitudes and beliefs.  Of course many of the same psychoses regarding control over women's bodies and shame and disgust toward women exist in other fundamentalist religions.  But it is so pervasive, so deep and widespread, and so socially enforced in so much of the Muslim world, that she has a valid point.  It needed to be written. If she embarrassed some folks, that's OK.

    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

    by ivorybill on Sat Apr 28, 2012 at 08:25:31 AM PDT

    •  Well said (7+ / 0-)

      "We aren't all that bad!" is a common response whenever anyone points out to a member of a dominant class that he (or she, but usually he) is a beneficiary of an entire social structure that subjugates one group for the benefit of another.  "I never owned slaves!  I love my wife!  My best friend is a Muslim!"  

      Get over yourself.  It's not about you individually, it's about the society you live in and benefit from.  When someone points out a gross inequality to you and your first response is "Not MY fault, dude!" you need to grow the hell up.  Or at least recognize that you are spewing idiocy and shut the hell up before you embarrass yourself further.

      This sig is an optical delusion.

      by sarahnity on Sat Apr 28, 2012 at 08:42:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree it needed to be written but with different (3+ / 0-)

      use of language. The article created an impression that all Arab men and all of Arab culture are both  inherently misogynist. Really all of them? All 170 million of them or whatever the number of Arabs are in the world?

      •  She very clearly at the beginning of the article (11+ / 0-)

        said The Islamist hatred of women burns brightly across the region -- now more than ever.

        Now, an Islamist is not "all Muslims." An Islamist is a radical conservative fundamentalist offshoot of the Islam religion. Just like the Christianist fundamentals are offshoots of Christianity.

        Both of whom btw do indeed hate women.

        Your diary is kneejerk reactionary hogwash meant to diminish an excellent piece of journalism from Mona Eltahawy.

        •  Here is what Monica Marks has to say (0+ / 0-)
          Egyptian feminist Mona Eltahawy authored the article. Her central contention — that Arab Muslim culture “hates” women — resurrects a raft of powerful stereotypes regarding Islam and misogyny. It also situates Ms. Eltahawy’s work within a growing trend of “native informants” whose personal testimonies of oppression under Islam have generated significant support for military aggression against Muslim-majority countries in recent years.
          Books by these “native voices” — including Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s “Infidel,” Azar Nafisi’s “Reading Lolita” in Tehran, and Irshad Mandji’s “Faith Without Fear” — have flown off the shelves in post-9/11 America despite being roundly rebuffed by leading feminist academics such as Columbia University’s Lila Abu-Lughod and Yale’s Leila Ahmed. Saba Mahmood, another respected scholar, noted that native informants helped “manufacture consent” for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by serving up fear-inducing portrayals of Islam in “an authentic Muslim woman’s voice.”
          Although such depictions have proven largely inaccurate and guilty of extreme generalizations, they have become immensely popular. Why? Because these native “testimonials” tell us what we in the West already know — that there’s something inherently misogynistic about Muslims and Arabs.
          By stirring up our sympathies and reinforcing our prejudices, individuals like Ms. Hirsi Ali and Ms. Eltahawy have climbed to the top of the media ladder. Their voices are drowning out the messages of more nuanced, well-respected scholars.

          •  I agree partially (5+ / 0-)

            to your point about the ways in which some authors have capitalized on anti-Muslim sentiment post 9/11, and the ways in which actual enemies of peace - namely much of the GOP and nearly all evangelical Christians - have used this material as justification for drumming up hatred for Islam.  I wish it wasn't the case.  I'd like to turn a mirror on the evangelicals and the GOP and question them on their (somewhat different) blindspots and hatred of women.

            But I'm telling you, it really is different here.  And by here, I'm writing this comment from inside of Iraq, where my organization has been doing some work on trying to protect gay Iraqi men, among other things.  Damn near every one of these men, the effeminate ones who are targeted, are raped by police who consider themselves straight.  An effeminate Iraqi gay man is the most reviled of human beings in Iraq, and you know why?  Because he has sex with men?  No.  It's because he's feminine.  It's because he gets penetrated, rather than does the penetration.  I won't even go into the sort of unbelievable violence women put up with, including young women who refuse to marry someone they don't love, or who decide to marry someone they do.  It's hideous.  And I love Iraqis, Iraqi culture, and have for many years.  It's not Arab bashing, or Kurd bashing, or Muslim bashing. Far from it.  Instead, it saddens me that people here are subject to a sort of cultural or societal disease that's not reflective of the decency of most Iraqis - human beings - at their core.  

            Nobody can tell me that the dangerous attitudes toward gender here are only a matter of degree or that somehow the West is pushing this issue for political reasons.  It's worse than one can possibly imagine, and it very much has to do with religious belief on the part of the majority.  I actually have some sympathy for families in which a daughter is killed due to some moral transgression. It's a tragedy for them too, but aspects of the culture are so strong, social pressure so great, and the disease of conceptualizing women as unclean and sexually dangerous leads to huge tragedies for all concerned - even the men who sometimes perpetrate these crimes.

            I get your point, and I get that this is an American blog focused on American policy - and you are right... too many people bash the Muslim world using this issue, with a deeper malevolence intended.  That doesn't mean that there's a great deal of truth to what Mona Altahawy wrote.  

            “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

            by ivorybill on Sat Apr 28, 2012 at 09:55:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I agree. A great deal of what Mona wrote is very (0+ / 0-)

              much true. She cites the human rights reports to backup her claims. And I don't have a problem with that. But could some of the rights that women have in the ME be won without men helping women achieve these rights? No.

              So instead of backing men against the wall, she should have encouraged them more blatantly in her article to fight for the rights of their mothers, daughters, sisters and wives.

              •  If you would just be a bit nicer, dear ... (5+ / 0-)

                I can't believe that you are really going down that path.  If she would only change her tone, her message would be received with roars of approval?  Yeah right.  I so believe that's going to happen.  Sometimes shouting is the only way to be heard.

                Let's face it, would you be writing a diary about the state of women's rights in the middle east without this provocation?

                This sig is an optical delusion.

                by sarahnity on Sat Apr 28, 2012 at 11:32:35 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Thank you for your comment, Ivorybill (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

              by Diana in NoVa on Sat Apr 28, 2012 at 05:49:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  eltahawy debated article w/ahmed on mhp (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Marie, bronte17, BachFan, ivorybill

            Eltahawy was a guest on Melissa Harris-Perry's show this morning and was joined in one segment by Leila Ahmed and they had a very civil and mutually respectful debate about the article. Each called the other one of her heroes.

            In case the embed doesn't work, here's the page link:


            Slightly OT: I'm not sure if it's in this clip or on another segment (Eltahawy was on beyond just the segment focusing on her article), but she noted that she had gone five years without health insurance in the United States working as a freelance journalist and that if the brutal attack on her in which I think she said both arms were broken had occurred here, she would have ended up in bankruptcy.

        •  It's a poor piece of journalism (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and an even poorer piece of analysis. Here's a good explanation of some of the reasons why:

          Firstly, Mona identifies hatred – pure, transhistorical, misogynistic hatred – as the cause of women's oppression in the Arab world.  This hatred itself, el Tahawy explains in terms of men's desire to control women's sexuality.  Even if this explanation wasn't largely circular, which it arguably is, hatred is a woefully insufficient lens through which to understand the problem.  Why is sexism stronger in some places and times than others?  Why does it take specific forms?  And aren't there some things about women's oppression which can't be explained by hatred, even as there are things that can?

          Secondly, because the article lacks a coherent explanation for the misogynistic practices it identifies, it also lacks the capacity to suggest effective solutions.  Instead we get the slogan “call out the hate for what it is.”  As if repeatedly pointing out the psychological form of the worst misogyny could bring down the walls of the patriarchal Jericho.

          Thirdly, the article singles out 'Arab societies' for criticism.  Whilst, relative to Sub-Saharan, Asian, or Latin American societies, Arab nations are disproportionately grouped at the bottom of the 2011 Global Gender Gap Report ↑ (based on a list of nations which is far from comprehensive, leaving out Afghanistan and Somalia for instance), this is no excuse for not building an analysis which integrates other offenders: half of the bottom six are not Arab.  As an Arab woman herself, el Tahawy undoubtedly does not intend to essentialise Arab societies, but by treating the problems she describes as specifically Arab ones, and lacking in historical origins or non-Arab equivalents, she will unavoidably be perceived to have done so.

          I'm sure that Egyptian men were hating Egyptian women when the parliament has made repeated strides to outlaw the practice of female genital cutting. I'm sure they hated women when they agreed to support media campaigns to educate the country about the practice and violate social and cultural taboos by talking openly about the practice. I'm sure that the studies that have shown decreases in FGC in Egypt particularly among the wealthier and better educated just shows that the poor hate more. And the higher instances of FGC in some other African countries shows that some Africans hate women more than Egyptians. And so it goes.

          But the article does a great job of confirming western prejudices about the Arab and Islamic world and support  views on why interventions in the region are needed. After all, if these poor Arabs are so filled with hate, we must rescue them! La mission civilisatrice is alive and well in western liberal interventionist discourse.

          •  Your last paragraph... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fire bad tree pretty
            But the article does a great job of confirming western prejudices about the Arab and Islamic world and support  views on why interventions in the region are needed. After all, if these poor Arabs are so filled with hate, we must rescue them! La mission civilisatrice is alive and well in western liberal interventionist discourse.
            ...also describes this diary and many of the comments by some of the others.

            Muslims and tigers and bears, oh my!

            by JDsg on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 12:34:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Excuse me (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              After all, if these poor Arabs are so filled with hate, we must rescue them! La mission civilisatrice is alive and well in western liberal interventionist discourse.
              You reduce this entire issue to whether or not the west should intervene?  Is this whole issue of women's rights merely some sort of discourse about colonialism?

              That's a far more egregious oversimplification than anything Eltahawy wrote.  It's pretty standard though - the mirror image of the neocons, really.  Neocons have an inflated sense of western capacity to change the "orient" to make Edward Said spin once again, and certain people on the left interpret nearly everything in terms of some sort of confused idea that violence toward women is inescapably linked to colonialism and imperialism.  Both are grotesque oversimplifications.  

              “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

              by ivorybill on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 12:43:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The Problem is the Audience (0+ / 0-)

                Her audience is not Arab women or Arab men who can benefit from her thesis. Her audience are subscribers to Foreign Policy Magazine, which was founded by Samuel Huntington, a propagator of the Clash of Civilizations theory. What does that tell you?

                And don't tell me that it was not originally meant for Foreign Policy as another poster said. There is no evidence of this. It's published in Foreign Policy, bottomline!

                •  I'm not a fan of Foreign Policy magazine (0+ / 0-)

                  but I will say that this article is one of their better moments.

                  Not sure who made the decision, but Mona or her agent/publisher very well could have shopped the article around to find a home for it.

                  You have no evidence that this was marketed strictly with a neo-colonialism bias in mind to Foreign Policy.

                  You have no evidence that Mona may have approached some Arab outlets for publication and was ignored or turned down.

                  Time is of the essence with this matter right now. And, as Mona noted, women have historically always been expected to wait until later to make their waves and stir up cultural troubles. Mona decided that this time she wouldn't wait.

                  Good for her.

                  •  Why are you insistence that Mona is the voice of (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    women when Egyptian feminists have rejected her?


                    Just answer this question, that's all I ask. Why do you feel like Mona represents the voice of the oppressed minority when Egyptian women do not feel this way?

                    •  No one said she represents ALL women (0+ / 0-)

                      Just like the crazy wingnuts Ann Coulter or Ann Romney or Phyllis Schlafly do NOT represent ALL women in the US.

                      They represent the radical conservative mouth-breathing fundamentalist Christianists who hate the freedom of women to control their lives, their health, their education, their work and their speech.

                      In other words, no autonomy for women.

                      But, thankfully, we have other women who speak up and provide opposition to the mouthbreathers and their conservative authoritarianism.

                      That's what Mona has done. She has spoken up and it has set the fundamentalists screaming to make her stop speaking. Using any guile and excuse you can find.

                      •  Wow! You Juxtaposed Egyptian feminists with (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        Ann Coulter. These are liberal Egyptians. They want equality of women in their state, and they have distanced themselves from Mona. Why don't you read what I linked before playing the Holier than Thou card?

                        Here is their facebook page:

                        And once again here is the article Samia Errazzouki wrote:

                        Even Leila Ahmed, the Harvard professor said that Mona succumbed to generalizations.

                        Yet here you are thinking you know more than (1). What Egyptian women on the ground know and (2). What a Feminist scholar from Egypt knows.

                        •  ah... No. Wrong analogy of that juxtaposition (0+ / 0-)

                          Not even.

                          And you presume that "Egyptian feminists" are a monolithic group and only certain people get to speak up for Egyptian women's rights.

                          Ergo, since Mona is not a member of said "Egyptian feminists" group, her voice is to be stifled and shut down.

                          Why do you insist on shutting Mona's voice down?

                          Furthermore, Mona's article encompassed the "Middle East" and she used examples across many nation-states in her writing. She did reference Egypt, but also Tunisia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, Libya. And she berated Sec of State Hilary Clinton for the US hypocrisy.

                          That "Feminist scholar from Egypt" upon whom you lay such grandiose claims and yourself do not get to corner the market on feminism and the voices that speak out.

                  •  Prove the contrary then. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Prove that Mona was rejected by Arab media regarding this piece.

                    Prove that Mona's first choice was not FPM.

                    You're trying to impose your western ethos on Egyptian women. They will decide their future and what's good for them not you.

                    •  First of all, you don't prove a negative (0+ / 0-)

                      Secondly, why don't you lift a finger for yourself and check out the way that articles are published for magazines.

                      You are black & white with your authoritarian attitude. You prove Mona's theory of the need for a change in thought processes.

                      •  That is the most absurd thing I've ever heard (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        You brought up the fantasy that Mona was rejected by Arab publications, without a shred of evidence (in other words you just made it up, because you wanted to manufacture a pre-conceived conclusion).

                        Now you don't want to protect your assertion. What's wrong?

                        •  *You* are the one who first made claims (0+ / 0-)

                          about Mona being an agent of the Western imperialists.

                          I simply inserted a possible alternative rational viewpoint to your absurd claims.

                          •  At least I can backup my claim. What about you? (0+ / 0-)

                            Click here:

                            Are you just a conspiracy theorist?

                          •  From where do you pull the conspiracy idea? (0+ / 0-)

                            You keep going off on these wild tangents and throwing out ridiculous accusations.

                            And just because you can find an article posted somewhere questioning Mona's approach... it means absolutely nothing more than people are discussing the issue.

                            I can find any number of opposing articles that support Mona.

                            It does NOT give you street cred or make your assertion the only correct idea out there.


                          •  Bottomline Egyptian Women Do not Need your (0+ / 0-)

                            or Mona's tutelage to tell them what to do or what their problems are. They are smarter than you think or more resilient and courageous than you give them credit.

                            All Mona did was do armchair condemnation, sitting from the safety of the West.

                            Egyptian women are actually in the frontlines fighting those battles and alleviating oppression and discrimination from their community, without the safehaven of the West.

                            They will decide how to run their lives and how to decide their destiny, and you will not decide it for them.

                            You may speak for Mona but you certainly do not speak for them. They will correct the wrongs in their community and they do not need your armchair psychoanalysis or whatever it is you are doing here.

                            And they do not need you to be a voyeur emitting pity and sympathy for them, while simultaneously degrading their culture with Holier than Thou eyesight.

                            You see their culture as a specimen, inferior to yours and you see it from afar. They see it as glorious and from within the boundaries of Egypt.

                            Furthermore please stop lying about me.

                            (1). I never said that my ideas were the only correct idea. If you can quote me saying this I would be happy.

                            (2). You also said that I tried to silence Mona or something to that effect, which is false.

                            Lastly I recommend you read Orientalism by Edward Said and maybe that will correct some of your views.

                            Also Edward Said's Covering Islam, both available on Amazon.


                            Anyway I am done talking to you and you can gladly have the last word as far as I am concerned.

                          •  No thanks to your condescending attitude there (0+ / 0-)

                            Edward Said is a favorite of mine... for whatever that is worth.

                            And my field is foreign relations... so take your holier-than-thou sermon somewhere else.

                            You do not get to control the discourse on the subject.

                            Every single thing you have stated there... you are using me as a proxy for Mona. Which is quite shabby and dishonest of you to do.

    •  I would not limit this disgust and shame (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ahianne, Marie, Diana in NoVa

      about the female body to Islam.  While the 3 branches of Abrahamic faith have taken different routes, there are still strains of extreme conservatism in all of them.  The most immediate example in the US is the stance of the RCC on birth control, opposing condoms even for disease prevention and opposing IVF and even marriage for infertile couples.

      While this may be seen as different from physical mutilation,
      this type of treatment of women also leaves wounds and scars.  It is rooted in the mores of a Bronze Age group of nomads who saw the subjugation of women as necessary to their survival as a group in the midst of various pagan cultures with different views of the role of the woman in society  

      •  While I agree (0+ / 0-)

        with the similarities between the Abrahamic religions, I think that assuming all are equal - or that the severity and type of oppression is always the same - is inaccurate.  Islam as practiced in Indonesia is probably more gentle in terms of gender-based oppression than strains of evangelical christianity in the west.  But seriously, the pattern and practice of honor killings across much of the middle and near east is far in excess of any parallel in any other Abrahamic religion in any other part of the world.

        And as for the bronze-age roots... has less to do with subjugation of women in competition with other groups, in my opinion, than the fact that Abrahamic religions got their initial start and flourished among populations that depended largely on pastoralism - control of female reproduction is a much more pressing issue when you are breeding goats and sheep than when you are engaged in more mixed farming.  The early middle eastern cultures that were more settled, more involved in grain and legume production, on better watered and more fertile land, were more likely to have a pantheon with many more female gods, or in some cases, may well have been matrilineal.  

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 12:51:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  honor killings are a problem but at the same (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ivorybill, JDsg

          time it is difficult to separate out culture from religion and also there is the problem of labeling.  It seems to me that if a Muslim man kills his wife for infidelity, it is labeled an honor killing while many South American cultures have also allowed a man to kill a woman in certain circumstances surrounding issues of fidelity.
          Even in Texas, there is the traditional "husband's prerogative" whereby juries traditionally ruled in favor of husbands who killed their wives and their lovers upon discovering them en flagrante.

          I think the media is too quick to ascribe exotic events such as honor killings to foreign cultures while failing to recognize that it exists within our own cultural contexts.  For example, while I have seen murders by spouses for infidelity covered in the media but never in the context of an honor killing but it is rather interpreted as a fit of jealousy  

          •  True, but there's always a (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The qualitative difference between honor killings in the Middle East and jealous husbands in Texas or Latin America is the social pressure that families feel when a female relative transgresses community/religious values.  We've trained a number of attorneys and social workers in mediation, which often involves giving the families some alternative to killing their daughter that either preserves their social status or at least allows them to say "We wanted to kill her, but the military commander / agha prevents us".  This is a real qualitative difference from Colombia, for instance, where I also work.  In Colombia, there is some social pressure but not too much - it's more that jealous men will kill spouses or girlfriends with a great deal of impunity.  Families are rarely involved in killing their own daughters/mothers/sisters, as is the case here. The sort of mediation we do in Iraq would never work in Colombia, because the motives, actors and incentives to kill are simply different.

            Then we get to the quantitative difference.  I am not sure what the murder rate is of young women in Colombia.  We have some statistics for suicide and violent death in Quibdo and Buenaventura on the Pacific Coast of Colombia, but it is not clear always whether these deaths are from narcos, militias, or the FARC, or whether they are from violence against women by husbands or others.  I cannot prove it, but I would be astounded if the gender-violence related murder rate anywhere in Colombia approaches that of Iraq.  Most honor killings are not reported; in a population of 1.5 million in Sulaymaniyah Governorate, our best estimate is that approximately 60 young women and girls are killed each year, including some cases in which "suicide" usually by burning, is likely to be an honor crime instead.  We know this happens; we train mental health workers in the burn unit at the hospital and monitor the safety of women being held there.  About 25% of the suicide attempt survivals are actually assault victims and not suicidal at all.  Using an estimate that half the population is female, that 57% are between 15 and 65, applying an overestimate of 40% of that population being between 15 and 25, my honest and best estimate is that the population of women between 15 and 25 is about 175000.  That yields an annual mortality rate due to honor-related murder of young women in this age category of approximately 34 per 100,000.  The gross murder rate in Colombia, for all kinds of violence (including drug related and paramilitaries ) is 33 per 100,000.  I don't have the statistics at my fingertips, but there is a very high murder rate in Colombia associated with paramilitaries, narcotrafficantes, common crime and all other causes.  I strongly believe there is not just a qualitative difference, but a quantitative one.

            “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

            by ivorybill on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 10:34:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  RE: killings by paramilitaries (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              relying on reports by victims' families on paramilitary atrocities against civilians in Central America during the 1990s, it seems that the issue is again labeling as paramilitaries appear to kill for political reasons, for no reason, for the sheer heck of being able to kill with impunity, and to settle personal issues, such as perceived slights or social mistreatment.  In such cases, it is all lumped together as militia atrocities but the militia members themselves have a multitude of reasons.

              The girls' and women's families being pressured into doing the killings themselves seems unique to certain areas or at least is more prevalent.  The usual pattern seems to be that the husband or jilted lover has the "right to kill"  I forgot to mention the Balkans area also has the expectation that a cuckolded husband should exact retribution upon his errant wife

              Not to minimize the qualitative and quantitative differences between various cultural norms, but it still seems to me that frequently in the West, religion is used to define what is an honor killing and what is not an honor killing.

              •  As a final note (0+ / 0-)

                I would agree that social pressure in the Balkans does tend toward "honor killings" that can occur among Orthodox, Catholic or Muslim families.  There is a link though, and it supports indirectly my position that there is something qualitatively different about current honor killings in the Middle East that result from a popular conception of Islam.  The Balkans were part of the Ottoman Empire, just as the Middle East, and there is some cultural bleed-through across religious boundaries.  For example, there are rare honor killings among Assyrian Christians in Iraq, and rather frequent ones among Yezidis (Zoroastrians).   So I suspect there are some cultural and historical links that render the Balkan case somewhat related to the Middle and Near East.

                Latin America, again... the main difference is the degree of social pressure.  Few Latin American men kill female relatives because of the pressure of their society, although the society may well consider the murders justified.  Slight difference, not to belabor the point.  

                “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

                by ivorybill on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 11:39:11 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  thank you for the information (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Social pressure is indeed the problem and it appears it can only be changed from above as you noted.  Suttee was continued until the British made an attempt to put an end to the practice and decades ago, bride burnings became  a problem as men no longer wanted their wives but also did not wish to return their dowry.  Their solution was to engineer an accident so the wife was burned to death by a kerosene lamp or stove when the reality was the husband or his family and friends burned the wife to death.

                  There were several high profile cases with less than satisfactory results.  It seems the practice continues though not with the impunity it once enjoyed

    •  Not useful at all (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      For a taste of why, you might wish to read some of the articles by Arab women on why:

      MOna: Why do you hate us?

      Us and Them: On helpless women and Oriental imagery

      Dear Mona Eltahawy You do not represent 'Us'

      as well as a huge angry outbursts on Arabic and English twitter.

      I think what leaves a bad taste in my mouth about all this is the focus on 'hatred' of Arab men by women for religious and cultural reasons which is also a point that you are supporting. Do you or Mona have any evidence that this is more so in the Arab world than anywhere else? South Africa does a whole lot better on a whole bunch of indicators of women's equality than the US or Europe - does that mean that men there hate women less? Female genital cutting is more common in Somalia and neighbouring countries than Egypt - do they hate women more than Egyptian or Arab men? FGC exists as mainly an African phenomenon with some practices in Asia. It's not an issue in other parts of the Arab or Muslim world. It actually precede both Christianity and Islam in Egypt. So just how religious is it?

      This UNICEF study shows different numbers on FGC than Eltahawy's but also goes into conditions that give rise to it as well as who enforces it and why. It shows that more educated families have less instances of FGC, it's higher in rural areas and the poorly educated, and that women rather than men are the main enforcers of the practice. But Mona says it's all about hate! It's actually a complex of social, cultural, religious and economic factors. Mona doesn't mention the ongoing campaigns against the practice (first outlawed in the 1920s in Egypt) and that widespread campaigns begun under Mubarak's rule are being effective in transgressing cultural taboos about the issue and incrementally reducing the rates of FGC.

      What Eltahawy has done is really make westerners feel more comfortable in their own prejudices about the region and about their interventions in the region, even in the face of rejection of that role by people in the region themselves. If Arabs are really this bad then of course we need to save their backward asses and protect women from the hate. It's lazy ahistorical, non-contextual analysis that is just using Arab women to further US foreign policy goals. It's like all those women bemoaning the situation of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban to support R2P but where are the protests when women get killed by US drones?

      Furthermore, I object to your characterisation of Islam as a fundamentalist religion - like any other religion it is subject to extremism but one would argue that, like other religions, they are only a small fraction of the total believers.

      •  The suicide rate where I work (0+ / 0-)

        among 15-25 year old females is ten times that of any state in the United States.  The people who force girls to marry, who engage in genital cutting, and who commit honor killings are not all fundamentalists, and the area I work has not been at war in 20 years.

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 11:03:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I owe you a longer answer (0+ / 0-)

        but it's late and I'm tired, so a short one will have to do.

        The relationship between dictatorship and oppression of women varies from location to location and across time, of course, but there's no direct and absolute correlation. The issue of historicity also has to take into consideration a consistent pattern across time.  

        Honor crimes are not always committed by fundamentalists.  My point precisely is that they are most often committed by persons in the mainstream of their culture, who commit violence due to social pressure.  That social pressure is related to popular interpretation of religion and culture, which are very difficult to separate.  And in terms of only a very small percentage of the believers ascribing to rather extreme beliefs or actions... come here, and spend about six months, and see if you still hold that perspective.  Non-fundamentalist middle class families will beat or even kill their daughters if they have sex outside of marriage.  This is not a rare or isolated response.  As mentioned above, the female suicide rate is 10X that of the United States and most of it is due to girls committing suicide because of forced marriages, or other forms of GBV which are deeply entrenched in the culture and cannot be entirely attributed to Saddam Hussein, or Kamal Attaturk, or Sultan Selim if you want to go back that far.

        Edward Said gets quoted for everything... And in terms of western perception, he's right about the simplified and often exaggeratedly negative construction of Arab or Muslim identity.  But hardly anyone in Iraq, Eastern Turkey, NW Iran has heard of Edward Said, and fewer still would be interested in what is, essentially, a sterile argument.  The accusation that Mona Eltahawy presents an Orientalist perspective on Arab men is I think is actually irrelevant, except in terms of how it affects western perceptions.  Her point is that there is a very strong threat of misogyny running through dominant culture (not merely the fundamentalists) throughout the Middle East. This seems to me indisputable.  She even outlines its roots - cultural views of female pollution and uncleanliness, and excessive dangerous sexuality.  To dispute this, or to somehow involve Edward Said, is either deliberately or accidentally changing the subject, and does damage when this particular pattern is so widespread among Arab and non-Arab (especially Iranian and some Turkic cultures).

        Her critics immediately channel their own frustrations, without much actual regard for what she was saying.  First, there's the criticism that she presents women as passive objects of abuse, not involved in their own liberation.  That's clearly false, if one reads her article.  A more interesting question, which neither Eltahawy nor her critics sufficiently explore, is why so many women really do ascribe to rigid religious beliefs that are so damaging.  I don't have time to go into that now as it;s late, but neither the author nor the critics seem to want to get into it.  Her (mostly male) critics immediately get defensive about the way Muslim men are portrayed in the west.  From my perspective, irrelevant.

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 12:14:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not really sure (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          what point you are trying to make. I gather you are in Iraq and therefore I'm unsurprised by the higher suicide rates etc in what is a conflict zone. I'm surprised that you don't see the role of the US in declaring war on that country and invading it (based on lies about WMD) to not have any role in creating the social and economic conditions for this type of behavior and indeed looking at socio-economic factors in several countries in the Middle East to explain a general revival of traditional/Islamic attitudes and practices. There's a good article by Carvalho here (pdf) which finds evidence for that link. I would also be careful about generalizing behavior in what is a war zone to other Arab and Muslim countries.

          As for Edward Said, I'm not sure what your point is there either. It doesn't really matter if Iraqis have or haven't heard of Said, what matters is whether those in the west do view the east with the orientalist prism. Since Eletahawy is presenting her article to a western audience, one would assume that her argument, which essentializes Arab men and thus presents them through that Orientalist prism, is highly relevant. That essentialisation of Arab men as hate-filled is what I object to. As for the articles I linked to, if you had read them, you would realize they are written by Arab women, which makes a nonsense of your criticism that her critics are mostly male. If you had been around the female Arab blogosphere and facebook/twitter exchanges on this in both English and Arabic, you would realize that this has created a storm of criticism from Arab women. Like me.

          •  Forgive me for continuing the conversation (0+ / 0-)

            Again, I agree with much of what you say.  I appreciate your comments both here and elsewhere on other topics, and hope that you understand that my continuing the conversation is not an attempt to annoy, or bully, or be disrespectful in any sense.

            Thanks for the Carvalho link - I agree with the article, which explains an increase in political Islam but for me is not a sufficient explanation in and of itself for both the persistence and nature of violence against women.

            In terms of the qualitative difference between "honor" crimes here and, say in Latin America, see this response to entlord above:

            I gather you are in Iraq and therefore I'm unsurprised by the higher suicide rates etc in what is a conflict zone.
            The area I'm referring to has not been in conflict for >20 years; honor crimes, as far as I can tell, are actually higher in the Kurdish area than in Shia' regions of southern Iraq, which have experienced much more violence much more recently.  I can't say much about Sunni areas of Iraq...which are in some ways more culturally analogous to the Kurdish region, and in which honor crimes occur but with no reporting and few or no local organizations to even track the events.  However, there are aspects of Shia' Islam as practiced in Iraq that actually allow for a little more flexibility with respect to transgressions of sexual mores and norms, and while there's no statistics to back it up, I fully expect the murder rate of women in Basra or in Sadr City in Baghdad is probably considerably lower than in Sulaimaniyah. Also, I'm not referring strictly to "Arabs" - honor crimes which occur in large part due to societal pressure are frequent in eastern Turkey and several regions of Iran, among non-Arab ethnic groups (Persians, Kurds, Turkmen, Azeris).  So the direct link between conflict, imperialism and honor crimes may hold some relevance in the widest possible sense, and I'll concede it may be more relevant to the Egyptian context, but it breaks down when applied to a smaller-scale geographical or cultural level.  
            That essentialisation of Arab men as hate-filled is what I object to.

            We may agree on this more than it seems... I think one of the greatest tragedies here is that family members who may love their female relatives either participate in their killing or fail to intervene.  The social stigma and pressure - a sort of incohate cultural misogyny rather than universal individual misogyny - is the problem, not a blanket statement that all Arab (Musim) men hate women.  I differ on Eltahawy if that is what she is implying.  I fully agree with her to the extent that there are aspects to religion and culture as it is commonly practiced that reinforce ideas of female bodies in particular but also female sexuality as dangerous, capable of eroding the family, and capable of damaging the honor of men.  This assertion does not strike me as controversial.  The tragedy is that men who are not by nature cruel or hateful find themselves caught in this cultural and social environment.  I know of one man who now lives in exile, who exemplifies this.  His sister went to Mosul to obtain an abortion, and his mother assisted.  When this became known to family members, they decided to kill them both on a picnic.  This man, who did not want his mother or sister killed, failed to intervene. His uncles and a brother executed the two women and buried them where they were shot. The murders, like most murders of women, were never discovered or prosecuted.  This man is not a hater.  He's a man I respect a great deal, a kind man who does not hate women.  But he lives with that guilt and he atributes his failure to act accurately, in my opinion.  He stopped believing in God, separated himself from his culture, and has tried to live a moral life in the US.  His shame, anger, sadness and horror at what took place he ascribes not to conflict, or a reaction against the West, but to his former religion and culture.  And though I am horrified as well, I cannot find it in me to blame him for his crime of omission and I cannot accept that he is a general "hater" of women.  But the culture he came from, and the social pressures he faced that prevented him from saving his sister and mother, yes... there is an undercurrent of hate there.  I know this is only anecdotal, but this is one reason why I hold the views that I do.

            Anyway, perhaps I will diary more on this.  I don't want to aggravate you or dispute much of what you have written.  

            “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

            by ivorybill on Sun Apr 29, 2012 at 11:30:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Eltahawy (9+ / 0-)

    I get a distinct impression that either you didn't read the article and based this diary on a kneejerk reaction to the title, or you are a misogynist yourself.

    Why do they Hate Us? is a terrific article written by an incredibly brave Muslim woman.

    Your point is pretty shameful, in my opinion.

    We're all just monkeys burning in hell.

    by smokeymonkey on Sat Apr 28, 2012 at 08:47:28 AM PDT

    •  No I just don't think you can fight sexism with (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      reverse sexism. As Asad AbuKhalil aka Angry Arab said:

      Her sole argument on why women are oppressed in the Middle East, since this is a special place in the world where only backward thinking can be found, is because men and/or Arab society hate women.
      That's really not the case. Arab society is gradually moving forward and this is through a joint effort by both men and women. For instance, Tunisia has more women in Parliament than the U.S. has in the Congress.
      •  To take issue with Angry Arab (5+ / 0-)

        (and not to take issue with you... I'm glad you posted the diary)

        Eltahawy's point was specifically that women are oppressed in the Middle East not because the region is backward, but because it's easy enough to read the plain text of the Qur'an as claiming the biological inferiority and actual uncleanliness of women.  Now, some feminist Muslims differ on that, and it's a healthy argument to have.  That's not to say all Muslims believe that, or that there are not alternative versions of Islam out there.  But the core of the argument is true, and contrary to Angry Arab's claim that she's only whining about Arab "backwardness", she specifically calls out Morocco as a country that in other ways - economically, politically and culturally - is not really a "backward" place at all, except in this one area.  And then she lets them have it.  Likewise, she's not saying that Saudi Arabia is technologically backward, or even necessarily backward in areas other than in their particular psychosis regarding women.  Her point is precisely that the Arab world, which is mostly middle income, should not end up on the very bottom of the heap with respect to women's rights, over and over again.  

        Here's how it strikes me.  It's a very hard thing to read that article as an Arab man and not feel defensive.  Arabs feel defensive over being called backward, because theirs is a major civilization that (with the exception of attitudes toward women) has not historically been "backward" and is now "backward" in large part due to colonialism and the corruption of oil economies.  There's lots of reasons for Arabs, and Arab men in particular, to react defensively and even angrily at criticism, and much of that push-back is justified.

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Sat Apr 28, 2012 at 09:40:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I get what you're saying and I agree for the most (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          part. Three things bother me about her article:

          (1). It was written in an American publication for American consumption. It seems then to reinforce America's deepest suspicions about the Orient. Had this been written in an Arab magazine for the consumption of Arab women such as in Al AKhbar or Al Ahram I really would've applauded her. Because, Arab women need to step up to safeguard their rights.

          (2). It sees Arab society as a monolith and shows the effect and not the cause. Many of the atrocities Mona is reporting is in fact taking place under secular-autocrats or blatant monarchs backed by western finance and military might. So of course you're going to have vehement transgressions against women, it's one of the ways dictators consolidate power, by repressing half the population and subjugating their self-determinism.

          (3). Many of the atrocities against women are in fact conducted by other women such as genital mutilation.

          Her analysis is simplifying a complex issue.

          •  How do you know it was written specifically for (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Foreign Policy magazine? That could very well be an incorrect assumption on your part.

            And really... secular-autocrats or monarchs backed by western finance...  in all honesty, just who and how many are left out of that equation? And I didn't read it as a condemnation of all Arab society.

            Lastly, "atrocities against women conducted by other women..." is nothing more than the result of the dominant male society that plays out.

            It is a complex issue with many peripherals, but her analysis was one small component of the bigger picture. You surely cannot fault that.

      •  She knows her culture well and speaks truth (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ivorybill, Ahianne, Marie, Diana in NoVa

        Obviously, it is very uncomfortable to some people as your diary points out.

        As for the gains made in Tunisia that you so readily trumpet, Mona reported the reaction by the Islamists to the these gains:

        In Tunisia, long considered the closest thing to a beacon of tolerance in the region, women took a deep breath last fall after the Islamist Ennahda party won the largest share of votes in the country's Constituent Assembly. Party leaders vowed to respect Tunisia's 1956 Personal Status Code, which declared "the principle of equality between men and women" as citizens and banned polygamy. But female university professors and students have complained since then of assaults and intimidation by Islamists for not wearing hijabs, while many women's rights activists wonder how talk of Islamic law will affect the actual law they will live under in post-revolution Tunisia.

        And as Mona noted, across all these revolutions and uprisings in all these countries... and in the developed nations as the United States... women remain the cheapest bargaining chips.

        First we stop pretending. Call out the hate for what it is. Resist cultural relativism and know that even in countries undergoing revolutions and uprisings, women will remain the cheapest bargaining chips. You -- the outside world -- will be told that it's our "culture" and "religion" to do X, Y, or Z to women. Understand that whoever deemed it as such was never a woman. The Arab uprisings may have been sparked by an Arab man -- Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire in desperation -- but they will be finished by Arab women.

        Amina Filali -- the 16-year-old Moroccan girl who drank poison after she was forced to marry, and beaten by, her rapist -- is our Bouazizi. Salwa el-Husseini, the first Egyptian woman to speak out against the "virginity tests"; Samira Ibrahim, the first one to sue; and Rasha Abdel Rahman, who testified alongside her -- they are our Bouazizis. We must not wait for them to die to become so. Manal al-Sharif, who spent nine days in jail for breaking her country's ban on women driving, is Saudi Arabia's Bouazizi. She is a one-woman revolutionary force who pushes against an ocean of misogyny.

        Our political revolutions will not succeed unless they are accompanied by revolutions of thought -- social, sexual, and cultural revolutions that topple the Mubaraks in our minds as well as our bedrooms.

        The Bouazizis... the martyrs... are everywhere in everyday life  and sacrifice themselves so others may have freedom and dignity.
  •  the biggest problem with eltahawy's article (8+ / 0-)

    is that it's not in conversation with other egyptians as subjects, but rather is talking about egyptians as objects to the american readership of foreign policy. telling the west that they are more civilized than egyptians, or arabs, or muslims, plays into centuries-old orientalist tropes, and feeds western conceits that it doesn't really have problems or flaws WRT the treatment of women, but does have the right and the responsibility to save arabs/muslim women from those nasty arab/muslim men. the native informant dishing the dirt on the cruel oriental man will always find a willing audience. it's a niche ayaan hirsi ali has milked for the better part of a decade.

    the series of photos accompanying the article is a prime example, playing into the age-old titillating trope of the imagined sexy arab woman's body concealed underneath those robes from the gaze of the western male eye.

    none of this is to suggest that there are not deep problems with misogyny in egypt, or that the problems that eltahawy's suffering and outrage at these abuses is not real and justified. they are, as they are in our own society, as they are in parts of the world where we don't regularly use faux concern about the plight of women as a pretext to intervene militarily in their societies. eltahawy herself has been through a lot, given the specific use of sexual violence against women as a tool of egyptian security forces. and her closing argument, that women have been part of these revolutions from the beginning, and that the revolution cannot be complete unless it also addresses the sexism and misogyny institutionalized in their society, is an incredibly important one (as it was in the chinese revolution, as it was in the revolutions of the 60s and 70s in the west).

    feminism should challenge sexism and misogyny anywhere it is found, and should never leave an audience feeling complacent. in her desire to make sure that western readers do not let egyptian misogyny off the hook due to "cultural relativism" (a longstanding conservative talking point), she ends up playing into those who would let western misogyny off the hook while comfortably clucking their tongues about those cruel oriental men.

    •  Very Well Said. Thank You. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming
    •  Now this I can agree with (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming
      it's not in conversation with other egyptians as subjects, but rather is talking about egyptians as objects to the american readership of foreign policy.

      This is the only thing that made me somewhat uncomfortable about the article, other than the unnecessarily titilating images of a naked model which also struck me as downright silly.  

      It can be said on her behalf that she does spend a lot of time trying to convince Egyptians.

      “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

      by ivorybill on Sat Apr 28, 2012 at 09:59:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  she does, and deserves credit for it (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shawn Russell, ivorybill

        she is an incredibly brave person, to fight as hard and against such odds.

        i wish that she had spent a bit more time laying out the other side of that dialectic struggle, for there are clearly a ton of egyptians, mostly women but men as well, who are on her side in trying to push for the completion of the revolution and the fight for full and meaningful equality. they did not win big in the recent elections, but neither are they nonexistent.

    •  I believe you are correct (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming, Marie, Diana in NoVa

      There is an inherent problem in speaking truth.  The truth you speak is not the truth that your enemies will say that you spoke. We have seen over and over on this particular topic, ranging from Said, objecting to Western colonialism to Juan Cole arguing that Western perceptions of the ME are in error, how words are taken out of context and sentences cherrypicked and twisted and contorted until they no longer mean the truth as it was spoken but a new "truth" which is not true.

      If we look to the roots of misogyny, in this particular case, I think we have to look to the misogyny that is inherent to any of the Abrahamic faiths and which exposes itself in varying degrees in all of the manifestations of this faith  

    •  First, this article and its presentation were not (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming, Ahianne, Marie, BachFan

      solely the work of Mona Eltahawy.

      With an important story as this one, you have the writer, a graphics artist and the editor who choreographs the final production. At a minimum.

      So, Mona's writing was one portion of the presentation of the story. The graphics artist and any other number of people had ideas that influenced the production of the story.

      And, studies have shown that information graphics are critical to important stories as readers typically look at photos first, headlines second, captions third, and text fourth.

      And, there were many graphics incorporated into that article that were not "sexy" and even the ones with a female in various stances... the accompanying headline built into the image juxtaposed and countered any "sexiness" that could be imagined. The graphic artist took the vulnerability of women... our bodies... because it is always about our bodies. And the use of color was very strategic.

      As Eltahawy wrote:

      Our political revolutions will not succeed unless they are accompanied by revolutions of thought -- social, sexual, and cultural revolutions that topple the Mubaraks in our minds as well as our bedrooms.


      We are more than our headscarves and our hymens... poke the hatred in its eye...

      Finally, you make good points as usual wu ming. As you note, Sun Yat-sen made sure that women's rights were carried into the Chinese revolution. Thankfully, readership of this article expands beyond the misogynist western imperialists. As a western woman, so much transposes from there to here... and back again. Women of the world are not too terribly far apart when it comes to the ravages of fundamentalists in our societies.

      One last point, when Eltahawy noted that success depends on the need for revolution of thought... she noted it is our brothers and fellow compatriots in revolution who must revolutionize their thoughts in order for that success to come about.

      ... when we're violated by our fellow civilians we immediately assume they're agents of the regime or thugs because we don't want to taint the revolution.
      The success of the counterrevolution of the 60s, as one example, came about because the young men of my generation stood with us and understood us and supported us and understood that their freedoms came from our freedoms and dignity.
      •  and as we're seeing demonstrated yet again (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bronte17, Marie, Fire bad tree pretty

        just because we win some battles at some historical moments doesn't mean those wins are set in stone. the struggle is permanent or else it is ephemeral.

      •  china is actually a pretty good analogue (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bronte17, Marie, Fire bad tree pretty

        in that wave after wave of chinese feminists and revolutionaries championed women's liberation and sexual equality (and many other causes, e.g. footbinding, age of marriage, domestic abuse, family planning/reproductive rights, concubinage, etc. etc.) only to be told by their male counterparts that yes, that women's stuff was important, but it would have to wait until after the revolution and anyways women should not be putting their petty personal concerns ahead of the revolution, because it was so much greater than all of us yadda yadda yadda.

        the ferment and debate in the arab spring reminds me so much of china in the early 20th century, and yet even today some of the battles that they were trying to achieve back then are still far from won.

        •  Exactly. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wu ming

          As revolutions proceed through their stages, too often women are told to wait... for some magical ephemeral future time when everything is finally safe and secure and ready for their freedoms and dignity.

          That's why this article reaches across cultures and so eloquently captures the core message to call out the hate for what it is.

          First we stop pretending. Call out the hate for what it is. Resist cultural relativism and know that even in countries undergoing revolutions and uprisings, women will remain the cheapest bargaining chips.
        •  When did women in this country get the (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bronte17, wu ming, Diana in NoVa

          right to vote?  iirc over fifty years after they were told to take a back seat to ending slavery.  Right to reproductive privacy?  Credit in her own name?  Those came much later and the former has been whittled back ever since.

          Women in some European countries can feel smug and brag about their advances but not women in this country as we watch a Presidential election debating stripping women of their rights to abortion and birth control pills.  Who knew that 1973 was as good as it would get for women and those in the lower income groups?  

      •  As to the other elements (1+ / 0-)
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        that you mentioned, particularly the graphics, I was shocked when I saw them, particularly the painted on veils. One commenter I read wrote that it was the equivalent of a African-American seeing someone in blackface.

        As for Mona's point of view - she basically ignored what women in the Middle East have been doing for decades. She obviously knows little about the history of women's struggles and activism and how women are organizing themselves today. Instead she gives platitudes and cliches. She's not helping the women she is supposedly speaking for.

        •  How do you remotely get to the blackface (1+ / 0-)
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          What you see is a life looking out at you from the shell of the cave into which she has been stuffed. A unique special person filled with intelligence and talents and idiosyncrasies that have every right to be as developed and nurtured as any man.

          A life that lives with tremendous constraints on the use of that intelligence and those talents. Can NOT even drive. Can NOT speak out nor stand up for progressive changes without having her private parts poked and prodded by religious "authorities."

          A life that has every right to walk freely and work freely and speak freely without the poking of her private parts (i.e. rape) to prove she is somehow holy enough to deserve that freedom.  

          A uterus is not a certificate of slavery. It is not a sign of chattel. It is not a sign of degeneracy. It is not a sign of a whore whenever the mouth speaks of equality and fairness and dignity.

  •  What a paltry and poorly sourced diary. (1+ / 0-)
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    Mona does NOT compare in any way with the mercenary and opportunist 'native informers' we've recently seen shilling on Faux News.  This line of conversation is not helpful to wimmins' rights or cultural understanding.

    I preach the church without Christ, where the lame don't walk, the blind don't see and what's dead stays that way! Hazel Motes in "Wise Blood"

    by chalatenango on Sat Apr 28, 2012 at 10:40:11 AM PDT

    •  I specifically defended her from that accusation (0+ / 0-)

      This is what I wrote:

      But the piece failed miserably and Mona was called everything from an Islamophobe to a native informer.

      I don’t believe she deserves any of those names, simply because her past record displays the contrary.

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