Recently the self proclaimed leader of all feminism and anything that is female, Mona ElTahawy, wrote an article bluntly titled “Why Do They Hate Us?” insisting that the lack of freedoms of women in the Middle East is based solely on one thing: that Arab men hate women.
She begins her article citing a story from the book “Distant View of a Minaret”- a controversial tale of an Egyptian woman living in the Arab world. Like any Western influenced commentator on us ‘brown people’, she appeals to the Western audience by choosing a dubious topic: sex. It is not untypical of Mona to bring up sex. Her past articles and commentary that I’ve read leave me with the impression that Mona thinks the only way a woman can express herself and be free is sexually, just as she has done before on her website.
The beginning of her article was enough to throw me off. Using sex as a tool to reel in the reader is so mediocre and unoriginal. But as I peeled through the rest of it, I found myself offended. Not only on behalf of all feminists, who’s voices are overshadowed by this attention seeker, but on behalf of all men in my community.
She blames every hardship of the Arab women on one thing: basically because she bears a vagina. She victimizes an entire population of women by spewing statistics backed up with her fraudulent claims that we are the way we are because men despise us and won’t let us have orgasms. Lest we forget her deep rooted hatred of Islam and the inability to allow anyone to believe in whatever they want. She wants rights for everyone. But they have to be based on what she says. Stop questioning her, or else you hate women. And if you are a woman, you hate yourself. For shame.
Completely neglecting the fact that the Middle East has been a war torn region for centuries, which ultimately and obviously resulted in poverty and weak education, Mona insists that women are incapable of achieving anything because we are so hated. Yet she ignores the fact that women were key players in the Arab uprisings, even staging all female protests at times. She disrespects the female martyrs of not only the recent revolutions, but even those who resisted decades of occupation…picking up guns to fight for their homes and land in Lebanon and Palestine.
Mona, who tries to empower women, marginalized us with this article, making a minority seem like the majority when in fact it is not and I say this while being a non-hijabi living in Southern Lebanon. Yes, I will be honest- I have been disallowed to do certain things because of my gender. But not because I am simply a girl, but because people fear for my well being. In the whole world, not just the Middle East, everywhere is a scary place to be. Now imagine how it would be for a woman to just walk out thinking she is equal to everyone else when she’s not because of teachings that existed before the Middle East did. She will only end up hurt. There is no reality in Mona’s extreme feminism and instead of empowering women to do something they’re good at and inform us of the rights we should be asking for, she marginalizes us and seeks pity. This works right into misogynistic hands, to make the woman seem like she is a victim when Arab women are damn strong.
However that’s not the only case- she not only marginalized Arab women, but Arab men too. She made my grandfather, my male friends, my dad, my cousins…she made them all seem like they all hated me when in fact I have been nothing but loved my whole life. My father has provided me with eternal love, has treated all of his five daughters like princesses. My father, who has no sons, would prefer that I never get married because he doesn’t think any man would be worthy enough to have me.
I know good Arab Muslim men who live on their knees, at the feet of the women of their lives because they appreciate them so much. Men who would go against their fathers to side with their beloved mothers. Mona, who is so keen on insulting Islam often, seems to have forgotten one of the Prophet Mohammed’s sayings, that heaven is at the mother’s feet.
I have so many key figures in my life, who are Arab men, who inspire me to do one thing…and that is love. Love life, love family, love nature, love politics. With her claim that Arab men hate women, I’ve only seen a few…maybe a handful of men, who don’t understand the beauty of a woman. But to generalize all Arab men? That is a far-fetched excuse for a desperate feminist to be controversial, to gain attention in all the wrong ways.
For me, this article plays into the hands of two kinds of people: Western media who tries its hardest to portray the Middle East in the most terrible way possible and actual misogynistic men who most likely enjoy women being belittled. My last words for Mona: STOP victimizing me. Stop speaking for women. You don’t represent me.