Headscarves and Hymens – Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution
Through her articles and actions Mona Eltahawy has fought for the autonomy, security, and dignity of Muslim women, drawing vocal supporters and detractors. Now, in her first book, Headscarves and Hymens, Eltahawy has prepared a definitive condemnation of the repressive forces-political, cultural, and religious-that reduce millions of women to second-class citizens.
Drawing on her years as a campaigner for and commentator on women’s issues in the Middle East, she explains that since the Arab Spring began in 2010, women in the Arab world have had two revolutions to undertake: one fought alongside men against oppressive regimes, and another fought against an entire political and economic system that represses women in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and other nations.
Eltahawy has traveled across the Middle East and North Africa, meeting with women and listening to their stories. Her book is a plea for outrage and action, confronting a “toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend.” A manifesto motivated by hope and fury in equal measure, Headscarves and Hymens is as illuminating as it is incendiary.
In her book Mona Eltahawy, recalls a meeting with a Muslim Brotherhood leader. He was trying to demonstrate that Muslim Brotherhood group believed in pluralism and inclusion.
“And as proof, you are here meeting me and you are naked,” he said. “I am not naked,” Mona Eltahawy protested . “Your hair is naked, your arms are naked, according to God’s law you are naked.”
Headscarves and Hymens – Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution; Mona Eltahawy, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £16.99.