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Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East…
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Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution (édition 2016)

par Mona Eltahawy (Auteur)

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1754123,578 (3.92)3
"Drawing on her years as a campaigner and commentator on women's issues in the Middle East, [Eltahawy] 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 ... 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'" --… (plus d'informations)
Membre:SteinemsSisters
Titre:Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution
Auteurs:Mona Eltahawy (Auteur)
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2016), 256 pages
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Foulards et hymens : pourquoi le Moyen-Orient doit faire sa révolution sexuelle par Mona Eltahawy

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» Voir aussi les 3 mentions

4 sur 4
This is a book of rage and passion. ( )
  illmunkeys | Apr 22, 2021 |
Mona Eltahawy pulls no punches in her indictment of men in the Arab world who stand in the way of women's rights, and nor should she. An Egyptian journalist and activist raised in the UK and Saudi Arabia, she has seen and experienced the vilest treatment of women at the hands of men, in the name of religion, of the state, and of tradition. Her voice is smart, loud and powerful, and she advocates for women to use their words to free their bodies from the violence of men. She also speaks joyfully about the history and poetry of feminism in the Arab word, and the women who inspire the work she does today.

This book is a gripping, if harrowing account of Arab women's experiences, and it took me a while to read because of the pain and terror inflicted on these women. But one point Eltahawy makes clear: demeaning acts of bodily control over women, like FGM, rape, and child marriage, are not exclusive to the Arab/Muslim world. The "West" has its own special ways to control and demean women, like purity pledges, restrictions on birth control and abortion, and our own lax child marriage laws.

One quote (of so many) that stood out to me: "Unless we draw the connection between the misogyny of the state and of the street, and unless we emphasize the need for a social and sexual revolution, our political revolutions our will fail. Just as important, women will never be free to live as autonomous citizens whose bodily integrity is safe inside and outside the home."

Women must be part of the revolution, or it's not a revolution at all. ( )
  revafisheye | Jan 10, 2020 |
An intense and much needed read. You might know of the name Mona Eltahawy from her detention in Egypt during the Tahir Square protests. This book is her views on why the Middle East needs a sexual revolution: not about the act, necessarily (although that is part of it), but why there must be reforms and changes to allow women and girls equal rights in the public and private arenas.
 
This book was an intense read, although not long. The subjects are sometimes painful: domestic abuse, rape, female genital mutilation (FGM), driving, what they wear (from the niqab to the hijab, etc.). While she is not exceptionally detailed, I found I sometimes could not continue with the reading. The stories are painful, sometimes harrowing. Too many end in death: murder, honor killings, suicide. Some women are driven to despair being trapped in abusive marriages, being forced to marry their rapist, killed by their families to protect their "honor," etc.
 
But there are triumphs too. There are changes in laws, protests, more women speaking out. And while some of these changes are incremental, some women face horrendous retaliation for simply raising their voices, and that this means there's a long way to go, they are speaking out. Social media, nonprofit groups and other entities have helped some of these women escape their families or marriages and continue to make inroads, as slow as they are.
 
I was not very familiar with her work, beyond knowing she had been assault in Egypt. But her writing flows very well, and the reader remains engaged. She is not exceptionally detailed in some of the more gruesome aspects, but there are descriptions of FGM and a brief account of how an 8 year old girl bled to death internally after her 40 something year old husband repeatedly had sex with her. This is not a light read by any means.
 
But it is needed. It was quite interesting to read this not long after reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali's 'Heretic,' where both authors discuss similar issues: that perhaps Islam needs to look inward for a sort of reformation. And that despite the well-meaning intentions of the West (and others) to be accepting of Islam and saying things like honor killings, FGM and jihad (which I don't think was discussed in this book) are not Islamic, Eltahawy points out that there are many women who do not have a choice in whether to cover (with a hijab, niqab, etc.) but must accept it or else, and that there is a misogyny at work and that the West perhaps does not acknowledge this.
 
There is a lot to unpack here, and I wish there were footnotes and endnotes. While I understand she has a lot of experience and has done research, I would have LOVED to have some sort of recommended book reading list or a list of sources or a list of other works of hers (articles, documentaries, etc.) to refer to. In some places I felt some of the material might have been more suited for a blog or made me wonder what was her sourcing for whatever she said.
 
Overall, that is minor. I waited what felt like forever for this book from the library, and it was worth the wait. I'd recommend it if you have any interest in women and Islam, the Middle East, Eltahawy's works, etc. ( )
  HoldMyBook | Feb 11, 2018 |
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 frequently 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 quite 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-point.

However, 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 more 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 and/or 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 unique 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 niqab (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 niqab ban in France, I am implicitly supporting the oppression of Muslim women. But I think it's a more complex issue than Eltahawy presents here. Legislating what a woman cannot wear is no more 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 niqab, 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 quite insistent that they're delusional. Veiling, she argues, is uniquely 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. ( )
2 voter siriaeve | Apr 29, 2016 |
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"Drawing on her years as a campaigner and commentator on women's issues in the Middle East, [Eltahawy] 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 ... 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'" --

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