Developing nations throughout the world have an abysmal record in granting women equal rights or protecting them from harm. This does not mean that developed and industrialized nations are immune from this phenomenon, but generally they fare better in their treatment of women according to human rights reports.
Mona Eltahawy an Arab-American feminist has recognized this abysmal record in her own society and in Foreign Policy Magazine wrote a piece titled: Why Do They Hate Us?
The intent of the piece it seems was to raise awareness of severe women’s rights violations in the Arab world. But the piece failed miserably and Mona was called everything from an Islamophobe to a native informer.
I don’t believe she deserves any of those names, simply because her past record displays the contrary.
But the piece does have its problems namely as Asad Abu’Khalil aka Angry Arab noted on his website:
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.The problem with Mona’s thesis is that she either downsizes or fails to mention the importance of Arab men fighting on behalf of women in order to alleviate some of these transgressions against women.
I believe Mona bursts her own thesis by positing one single line in her article.
“Qaradawi has since issued a fatwa against female genital mutilation, but it comes as no surprise that when Egypt banned the practice in 2008, some Muslim Brotherhood legislators opposed the law. And some still do -- including a prominent female parliamentarian, Azza al-Garf.”
I am not a fan at all of Qardawi, to me he is a religious extremist. But can Arab men be all that bad Mona when even a religious extremist with whom I am pretty sure you don’t see eye to eye is fighting your battle and is voicing the same opposition?
And can Arab men be all that bad Mona, when the illegalization of female genital mutilation occurred under the masculine-dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, and a male dominated parliament?
Of course there are those who opposed the law, but more were for it, which is why the law passed in the first place.
Having said that, I feel for Mona. I know where her anger is coming from and why she feels a need to dispense catharsis. She was beaten and sexually assaulted in Egypt and she saw and/or heard the degradation of her mother and sisters while Egyptian society turned a blind eye for too long. But if you engage in sexism to combat sexism or bigotry to combat bigotry, you probably won’t get a very supportive audience to heed your message, simply a volatile reaction.
Finally let me be clear that all of the things Mona mentions is a terrible wrong and needs to be corrected by Arab society as a whole. But there is no need to isolate men from this effort.