Nowhere were servants better treated »« Mona Eltahawy talks about women in the revolution

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  1. tkmlac says

    I saw this a few months ago on reddit and then couldn’t find it again. It was very powerful. I have an Arab friend who spent quite a bit of her childhood in the UAE. Right now, the UAE is considering passing stricter laws regarding dress that would extend to foreign tourists. My friend pointed out that the older generation of women have a big influence on conservative dress in the Middle East. It’s not just men that are calling for stricter dress regulations in her experience. Of course, then the question becomes whether the older women are thinking they are protecting their daughters or if they have become oppressors themselves. Either way, to see somewhat more “liberal” countries like the UAE considering stricter regulations is disheartening.

  2. Armored Scrum Object says

    Is this new? I’m almost certain I saw something like this a year or two ago, perhaps in political cartoon form. Still, the point is as valid as ever.

  3. says

    Yeh it’s probably not new. It just grabbed my attention.

    So many places are getting stricter! Formerly liberal ones, and never liberal ones, and everything in between. I don’t know of a single majority-Muslim country that is going in the other direction. Jordan? Morocco? There are little stabs at reform, but also great groundswells of Moar Strictness – I think.

  4. Rodney Nelson says

    Ophelia Benson #4

    I don’t know of a single majority-Muslim country that is going in the other direction.

    This is the truly disheartening point.

  5. F says

    My fantasy is that repressed and abused women will use this to their advantage. The complete anonymity making it difficult to identify any particular woman, they become ninjas and wage a war against the halls of power.

  6. katkinkate says

    I agree with F. Looks like a marvelous opportunity for mischief. The only real problem to overcome, apart from women’s socialisation as obedient and submissive, is communication. In many of those areas women are kept at home and isolated from other households and can’t venture outside without an escort.

  7. maureenbrian says

    That’s not much of an offer, F and katkinkate.

    No identity, no personality, no education or training, no achievements of my own, no say in any decision but I get to throw firecrackers in the souk. Or were you thinking suicide bombers?

    Think again, please.

  8. dirigible. says

    Islamophobia! Moderate Islam can help these women if only we help reinforce its (sic) identity.

  9. ibbica says

    …and I guess the links stuck that comment into moderation :/
    So without the links, just in case… the artist who took and assembled the photographs is Boushra Almutawakel. Her other works are worth checking out, too!

  10. Timon for Tea says

    “I don’t know of a single majority-Muslim country that is going in the other direction. ”

    Iran? It is true that the powers are keeping their grip and the rhetoric is extremely reactionary and progress very, very slow, but the restrictions on women are loosening in the cities at least and there is some room to manoeuvre (even if it is constantly attacked by the reactionaries). The reason is probably the large middle class (reform and resistance are much less developed outside of the cities). There is some hope in that because it suggests that economic development will bring liberalisation for women, especially if there are effective democratic institutions to campaign into.

  11. Select says

    I don’t need a work of art nor a chilling graphic to raise my awareness of this.

    I see it more and more in the streets and in the neighbourhoods where I live, work and shop.

    What’d more, objecting to or opposing this latest form of misogyny, of sexual slavery, will get you labelled a bigot, a neo-colonialist by all the progressive bien pensants.

    There’s also another aspect to this that is truly depressing.

    For some young westerners, Islam is more and more viewed as the new counterculture. It allows new female converts a unique and almost risk free means of giving the finger to everything and everyone in the surrounding society.

    It actually is quite empowering to don black robes, to mask your face and your identity because it frightens people and allows you to lord it over them.

    You can see them, but they can’t see you.

    No one will confront you, no one will oppose you, and no one will offer any resistance to your demands, no matter how extreme.

    It de facto places you above the law and so has quite a number of advantages.

    A very powerful draw for those women with delinquent tendancies.

  12. Q.E.D says

    Select 14

    No one will confront you, no one will oppose you, and no one will offer any resistance to your demands, no matter how extreme. It de facto places you above the law and so has quite a number of advantages.

    citation needed.

    I am curious as to what country you are basing your observation from.

  13. Select says

    citation needed.

    I am curious as to what country you are basing your observation from.

    France.

    http://www.dreuz.info/2012/09/scoop-a-nimes-des-commercants-agresses-parce-quils-vendent-de-la-charcuterie-du-vin-et-des-vetements-legers/

    And I’m curious as to why you’d even need a citation.

    Are you afflicted with some sort of auto-immune maladie that decrees you inhabit a sterile bubble?

    I could supply countless similar citations, but haven’t the time nor the energy to translate ‘em.

  14. Beatrice says

    Select,

    Er, France where wearing a hijab is illegal? France where, as Walton has mentioned and given links to articles several times, women who try to walk in the street in hijab are getting spat on and attacked?
    I’m sure they would love to hear how great of a time they are actually having.

  15. says

    Wearing a hijab is not illegal in France. It’s banned (along with other conspicuous religious garb) in state buildings e.g. schools and government offices.

    And the attacking isn’t all one way. Girls and women are subject to violence for not wearing hijab too.

  16. Beatrice says

    I mixed up hijab with niqab and burqa, sorry.
    My point stands for more severe coverings than hijab, those are banned everywhere in public in France.

    And the attacking isn’t all one way. Girls and women are subject to violence for not wearing hijab too.

    Did I say something contrary to that? I was saying that Select’s claim that women who want to wear the veil in France are above the law, that no one will offer resistance to them and similar are bullshit.

  17. Select says

    @Beatrice

    Regarding France:

    In cultures that have become shallow and purile, cultures that that can be considered value-lite, the embrace of an uncompromising Islam, an Islam of deadly earnestness, becomes the ultimate post-modernist leap, and the displays of conspicuous *morality*( niqabs etc) accompanying that leap, the ultimate acts of social transgression.

    I don’t know what else to say.

  18. Beatrice says

    Select,

    That was nicely poetic, but I don’t think you’re talking about any real place.

    ps when you say that a culture that has become value-lite embraces Islam, that sounds disturbingly Christian to me

    pps hello, wild generalizations

  19. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    Select’s remarks are completely accurate. As usual the anti-imperialist circle and attack the defender of classical liberalism.

    Select’s basic premise of how their extremism exerts a control over wider society is validated by the conspicuous lack of prosecutions for home confinement, domestic abuse, forced marriage, sexual assault and FGM in Europe’s Islamic communities. Add in police non-go areas and you have a total victory of conservatism over the rule of law.

    The disturbing thing about beatrice, walton and their ilk is that a few white racist incidents are all it takes for their avowed principles of secularism, gender equality, free expression, etc. to be completely pushed aside.

    Worse they are so morally blind that some spitting and pushing in this case are held up as more concern than the violence and rape culture that enforces Islamic head covering in some Muslim areas.

    Once again a group of predominantly privileged white leftists turn an issue of human equality and rights among non-whites into yet another navel-gazing condemnation of the West (for the sin of not having achieved total uniformity of liberal thought).

  20. says

    And the attacking isn’t all one way. Girls and women are subject to violence for not wearing hijab too.

    Yes, but on your blog you tend to mention one and not the other.

    Rebekah:

    Once again a group of predominantly privileged white leftists turn an issue of human equality and rights among non-whites…

    Remember when you said I was a reprehensible racist for saying you were “whitesplaining”? Remember how you said I was “racially charging” the argument by mentioning race? Yet you mention the race of predominantly privileged white leftists above in the course of dismissing their views.

    Uh oh! I guess you’re a reprehensible racist who uses racially charged arguments too! Welcome to the club!

  21. says

    Yes, I do; so what?

    I think the hijab is much worse than non-hijab. I don’t think women and girls should wear the hijab. I certainly don’t think they should be persecuted for doing so, but I don’t think there’s a perfect equality between the two and I ought to write as much about both.

  22. Rodney Nelson says

    Condescending contempt is not a scarce resource but I’m sure Rebekah must have stockpiled it for years the way she’s shoveling it on everyone who isn’t her.

  23. Rebekah, the Wily Jew says

    Remember when you said I was a reprehensible racist for saying you were “whitesplaining”? Remember how you said I was “racially charging” the argument by mentioning race? Yet you mention the race of predominantly privileged white leftists above in the course of dismissing their views.

    Uh oh! I guess you’re a reprehensible racist who uses racially charged arguments too! Welcome to the club!

    As I recall we were arguing over a point of Hindu practice. You seem to fancy yourself an automatic expert because you come from a Hindu background, which is as absurd as thinking a given person raised Catholic is an expert on that religion or that I myself am an automatic expert on Judaism.

    I cited a Hindu source for my position which set you of accussing me of “whitesplanning”. I called you out on that as an inappropriate use of racism to try an silence someone with a differing evidence. Your move was a blatant anti-intellectual attempt to put your truth-claim ahead of mine simply because you are from a Hindu ethnic background and I am not.

    I also pointed out that considering me “white” is marginal, since a large group of white Europeans do not see me as such in theory or practice.

    In this instance I am not saying that beatrice, walton, etc. are being wrong because they are white, nor do I view their posts as “whitesplanning”. I am merely pointing out that they are in a cavalier position to time and again take a lax stance on human rights for non-whites because it violates certain taboos of the anti-imperialist and anti-racist set.

    So totally different type of argument with totally different intent. But thank you for trying. Making me defend my argument vis-à-vis a charge of hypocrisy is perfectly legitimate and I appreciate you not wandering off into unnecessary ad hominems.

    p.s. Rodney, note how winterwind can read and process my comment and supply a fair challenge. Get back to me when you achieve that basic level of reading comprehension.

  24. Beatrice says

    Rebekah,

    Select is so full of it, and so are you. You could have really done yourself a favor and ignored commenting this particular time because you are just making yourself look ridiculous. More ridiculous. Whichever.

    I mean seriously:

    In cultures that have become shallow and purile, cultures that that can be considered value-lite, the embrace of an uncompromising Islam, an Islam of deadly earnestness, becomes the ultimate post-modernist leap, and the displays of conspicuous *morality*( niqabs etc) accompanying that leap, the ultimate acts of social transgression.

    This should be nominated for the most nonsensical paragraph ever written (that is not part of a religious text, kinda hard to compete with those).

  25. octopod says

    Select @#18: that article didn’t say it was hijabi women making the attacks, just “jeunes musulmans”, and unfortunately I don’t speak good enough French to search for cases where it’s specifically veiled female miscreants being held responsible. Is this an actual thing?

  26. says

    Rebekah:

    As I recall we were arguing over a point of Hindu practice. You seem to fancy yourself an automatic expert because you come from a Hindu background, which is as absurd as thinking a given person raised Catholic is an expert on that religion or that I myself am an automatic expert on Judaism.

    I cited a Hindu source for my position which set you of accussing me of “whitesplanning”. I called you out on that as an inappropriate use of racism to try an silence someone with a differing evidence. Your move was a blatant anti-intellectual attempt to put your truth-claim ahead of mine simply because you are from a Hindu ethnic background and I am not.

    The way religions are practiced are often different from the way they are described in textbooks or websites. As well as the official religious doctrine there is an informal cultural milieu that only people raised in such a background tend to be familiar with. For example, you could cite websites showing that the official Roman Catholic position on contraception is that it’s immoral, but someone raised in a Catholic community would know that what Catholics practice is often different from the Church’s official position.

    When discussing a religion as complex as Hinduism which is still relatively poorly understood by non-Hindus, the fact that I’m of a Hindu background and have a firsthand experience of how Hindus tend to interpret and practice their religion informally and culturally is relevant. Westerners studying Hinduism will often begin examining things like the Vedas and Bhagavad Gita, without being aware of the rich regional folk traditions and unofficial doctrines. Hindus themselves tend to be embarassed of their “unofficial folk religion” and will claim that some lofty ancient books like the Vedas is actually the foundation of their religion, while downplaying the folk elements.

    I have encountered people who have studied Hinduism through an academic source and therefore think they know more about what Hindus in general believe than I do. They tell me that my family must believe x, y and z about the caste system or dowries or marriage because they read about it in the Gita or Hinduism 101. I am often frustrated by this privileging of academic or outsider perspectives of Hinduism over the way people who live the religion and practice it actually experience it. I probably should have expressed myself more diplomatically.

    I don’t believe a truth claim depends on the identity of the person making it. That’s especially true for objective claims. 2+2=4 regardless of who agrees or disagrees. However when we deal with more subjective truths such as “Who is affected by discrimination? How, in what ways?,” people’s personal experiences and their membership of some minority group or another can be relevant.

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