Lebanese-American journalist and blogger Roqayah Chamseddine commented in a post entitled Us and Them: On Helpless Women and Orientalist Imagery:
Not only has Eltahawy demonized the men of the Middle East and confined them into one role, that of eternal tormentors, as her Western audience claps and cheers, she has not provided a way forward for these men. Are they eternally damned? Is this their own manifest destiny, one which has been predetermined at the point of conception? Do they have no way out of the sweeping accusation which brands them as natural haters of women? What of male feminists, are they forever struggling against their innate urge to hate women? Mona Eltahawy has penned both men and women into a non-negotiable situation, charging men with hatred and women with helplessness; and as a woman of colour, of Middle Eastern origin, I will not allow my voice to be co-opted. Mona Eltahawy may be one of us, but she is not “us” nor does she define us.
Egyptian human rights activist Hossam Bahgat tweeted:
@hossambahgat: “Muslims hate their women” is no different from “Muslims are essentially violent”. What a great disservice to our fight
In a post called “I don’t really think they hate us!”, assistant professor of journalism Nahed Eltantawy referred to “the empowered Arab women of the Arab Spring”:
When I look at these Arab heroines, who have made their people proud, I don’t see hate. I see love, compassion and understanding between young men and women who are willing to work together to create better lives, more freedoms and more just governments for everyone. So, to Eltahawy, I say that your column does not represent me as I don’t feel hated. I do have concerns, which might be similar or different to my sisters in Egypt. But I’m confident that whatever social, cultural, political and economic problems I personally face, these are challenges that can be fought instead of simply blaming them on misogyny.
Ayesha Kazmi, who blogs as American Paki, was disappointed at the way Eltahawy’s article spectacularly splintered feminism:
To claim that the “real war on women is in the Middle East” stakes the legitimacy of Arab women in the war against women, that I view as a global phenomenon not unique to Arab women, while leaving millions of non-Arab women, also victims of systemic misogyny, to fend for themselves. Mona has dangerously isolated non-Arab women from a war that is global. If Mona wanted to specifically address the plight of Arab women, she should have done so without appropriating the entire war as uniquely her own. Take the greater Muslim world for example, could she honestly look an Afghani or Pakistani woman in the eyes and read the title of this piece to them without recoiling?
US-based Middle East scholar Shadi Hamid commented:
@shadihamid: Whatever you think abt @monaeltahawy’s piece, says a lot that the very ppl she’s trying to “liberate” seem to mostly disagree w her.
This post was originally published by Global Voices.
Photos of Mona Eltahawy on her release from an Egyptian prison, both arms broken by soldiers during her arrest via twitpic
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