"Mona: Why Do You Hate Us?"

"This post is not supposed to convince you how courageous women are in the Middle East, or how they are fighting for freedom, minimum wage, social equality, or good education, because that is shown everyday through the heroic stories that the western press fails to cover, but Egyptians encounter them on a daily basis. You can view some stories of brave ordinary women here. This post is rather a response to the disgraceful, one-dimensional, article “Why Do They Hate Us?” by Mona El Tahawy.  Titles like “Why do they hate us?” can only describe Geroge-Bush dichotomies of “them” versus “us” paradigms, where the making of the “other” into a monster can only add to “our” vulnerability and righteousness. I never thought that this dichotomy could be used as an argument for feminism, but the astonishing Mona El Tahawy have found a way. In her article, she based her whole vague-over-generalized-orientalist argument of why women are oppressed in the Middle East to a simple reason of “because they hate us.” To give Mona the benefit of the doubt, as I skimmed through the title before reading the first paragraph about a woman so unmoved by sex with her husband, I imagined an article written on why dictatorships hate women or why exploitative systems hate women and turn them into objects, even if it is not about love or hate in my opinion, but I was imagining this to at least make the article readable for me after the disturbing title, the horribly chosen picture to accompany the topic, and the overt opening. Naive I was to think that Mona El Tahawy could write something I might slightly agree with given her history in writing about “women issues in the Middle East.”  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. What is very troubling is her belief that she is the “voice” for so many unheard women, who are oppressed and beaten by their husbands or shunned by the patriarchal Arab societies. She is the beacon of hope for Arab Muslim women living the male-dominated Middle East forced to wear the niqab and do slave work at home. Not only does she believe that she is speaking for these women, but she believes that she is one of the few (if not the only) who is brave, eloquent, and educated enough to vocalize these suppressed voices to the Western media like FP, BBC, CNN, who are of course incapable to reach these suppressed creatures, Middle Eastern women."

Posted on April 26, 2012 by As'ad