Two excellent minds — liberal activist and journalist Mona Eltahawy and Huffington Post UK political editor Mehdi Hasan — went head to head at the Oxford Union on whether, per the provocative headline of Eltahawy’s article in Foreign Policy Magazine, Arab men hate women.
Go to it, accidental theologists! But…
Please view the whole video before you comment. Let’s get beyond knee-jerk reactions. It’s true that it’s a long video, but if you don’t consider the whole issue important enough to merit 47 minutes of your time, I hereby suggest you forfeit the right to comment.
I appreciate you for posting this video. Thank you!
I am heartened with the fact that Mona Eltahawy is providing counterbalancing forces to the forces of misogyny in our world. And I applaud how she is doing this. Her provocative essay title landed her this interview. As a result, more of us have become informed. Well done!
I see the issues of gender inequality as pandemic. Even though Ms Eltahawy spoke of this, her focus, in the context of this interview, was primarily the Muslim world. Good for her!
To me misogyny is in our DNA whether we are women or men – girls or boys. Misogyny is in the atmosphere we breath. In the water we drink.
Most compassionately intelligent aware and caring woman or girls, boy or men would be horrified to know that they behave, in subtle or not so subtle misogynist ways. If we are at all representative of our respective cultures, we cannot not do this. We perpetuate misogyny unwittingly and without intent. I see myself and Mehdi Hasan in this group as well.
This is why your post, Mona’s work and Mehdi’s interview, and this video are so vitally important. We need to educate ourselves. We can no longer afford our ignorance. We need take on the disciplined personal responsibility and being wholly mindful – open-heartedly mindful:
• in the reconstruction of our personal worldview – our personal cosmologies
• of the states of being we embody
• to consciously choose mental working models that genuinely work – that are just
• in how and where we deploy our attention
• of our thoughts, convictions and beliefs;
• in our communicating and the actions we take.
If we respect life…if we espouse justice…freedom…if we value gender-based relationships, whatever one’s orientation…if we purport to revere love, human dignity, beauty, and the innocence and lightness of being – we can no longer act in accord with a worldview that hates freedoms for any life-form, let alone girls or women. We must take a stand and change ourselves. This is not about others. This is about each of us individually.
Those who subjugate others are themselves subjugated by this very act. Misogyny has colonized us all.
Life cannot hate life. Yet we persist in acting as though we do. The great divide is between those with the capacity to intentionally and willfully injure another, and those who, though they can, and do injure others, do so as a consequence of unhealed injuries – never volitionally! We can change this. This is our responsibility.
What possibly could be more important in our lives?
Thank you, Stephen — beautifully put.
You are welcome… there is one more bit I believe relevant: Might it be worth considering that those who are reluctant to acknowledge the existence of witting and unwitting misogyny in our world are really reluctant to change themselves? If one allows oneself to see what is – one cannot help but be changed…and as such one must think and act differently…
And here’s another thoughtful — and more critical — response from my friend Tarek Dawoud here in Seattle.
On my Facebook page, he suggested this video of a Deen Institute conference called “Can Muslims Escape Misogyny?”
and commented as follows:
“Much more thoughtful and realistic, a lot less about “provoking” and “grabbing headlines” and a lot more about breaking down the areas where misogyny appears and offering solutions/alternatives.
“As for this conversation, I watched the full video a few days ago. The main problem with it is of course that it’s completely unscientific and lacking in methodology. So, when one presents an argument “Arab Men hate women” one would need to present evidence based on some social studies that shows that Arab male attitudes towards women are particularly negative compared to others. Or perhaps even (God forbid) survey the women in question. Instead, she opts for the unscientific approaches of tokenization and over-generalization. She picks a bad act that happens in 1% of rural families to depict “an Arab male attitude towards women in this country” and then spreads that across to all other countries too, even those that do not have it. And then, without trying to understand the socio-economic reasons behind the bad act (say rural families marrying their daughters young to rich men from the gulf), she totally explains it away with hate/scorn for women. In addition, as the student cleverly asked her (and she dodged), she is committing the age-old colonialist crime of advocating for freedom, but only freedom she likes. She knows what is best for all Arab women, they don’t.
“This is not scientific or helpful. She’ll neither get support from scientists, social workers or social leaders. In my opinion, this is 60s style feminist “controversial writing” only done in 2014 when not many like that style any more.
“I assume she’s good intentioned and wants to bring about true reform, but I feel she copped out… She took the easy route of citing a few studies about the prevalence of female discrimination issues, made an outrageous claim out of it, published it in a high profile paper and thus has “sparked the debate.” I don’t see the solutions to the real issues she raises coming out of circus like debates and half-baked research.”
And here’s my Facebook reply to Tarek:
“Thanks (I think — I posted a 47-minute video, and you responded with a five-and-half-hour one!). But the Deen Institute conference looks excellent, and I will watch it — just give me time.
“Meanwhile, does Mona Eltahawy generalize? Yes. Is she angry? Of course — and she says so. Is she being deliberately provocative? Again, yes. Has she sparked the debate? As she herself acknowledges, citing the work of writers such as Leila Ahmed and Fatima Mernissi, the debate has been going on for some time and has still a long way to go. What then?
“I think what Eltahawy has done is bring the debate far more into the open. By publishing in Foreign Policy magazine, she’s demanding that both men and women, liberal and conservative, pay attention. And by bringing her well-known energy and passion to bear, she’s helping reframe it not as a ‘Muslim issue,’ nor even (despite the title) as an Arab one, but as a human- and civil-rights issue.
“My main criticism: that she didn’t widen her argument to what is happening with women in many countries in central Africa, where rape (most notoriously and viciously in Congo) has become a weapon of war.”
I do believe that religion in misused by people who seek power and would do by any means to do so. Oppression is the key word.
Women oppression :- 50 % of the population sorted out… Ticked off.
Caste system: Another 75% (assuming 4 Castes) of the left over 50% done… Ticked off…
That leaves just 12.5% of the population to sort out…..
Then go on to Say above so and so age….. That would cuts say another 50% of the 12.5%… Ticked off……
That now leaves only 6.5% of the original population to dominate…
Financial Oppression: Eliminate about 5 numbers… That leaves only .5% against domination……
It is a Legal system that is needed to prevent Oppression……
I am indeed lucky to be in a part of the world that represents a much better future for mankind. The UAE.
Dear Leslie, thank you for introducing me to Mona. We need more women like her. I will be following her from now on.
I do agree with those perceiving a generalised approach from Ms Eltawahy, but worry about her opening the door to dyed in the wool bigots. For instance I would hesitate to post a link to her lecture on Twitter for fear of the vitriol that I’m sure would ensue.
Anecdotally, what I see of interpersonal relationships among Muslim men and women in Australia, where they are a minority, is that “generally” speaking they are loving and respectful, which I suspect to be the case in US.
Ross — Most of the response to this has come on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/lesley.hazleton), where I re-posted this on the same date. Maybe because people feel Facebook is more of a communal venture, instead of something ‘mine.’ If you go there, you’ll find not only a remarkable lack of vitriol, but an in-depth discussion both for and against. I realize this is partly a reflection of whose friend requests I respond to, but I also think that it’s possible to be overly cautious, anticipating negative feedback that doesn’t necessarily happen. Perhaps this is a conversation that the vast majority of Muslim men and women are ready to have.
I watched the debate ,mehdi hassan and mona elthawy- as i listened ,my mind went to the country that is mine- india.her anger is well placed and i feel that ,we in india ,need what she is aspiring for- a n equality in reality and not in abstract- that equality in reality needs grass roots education ,in every way.
A month later, here’s “Pro-Feminists and Metrosexuals: the New Arab Men of the Millennial Generation,” a counter-argument from Khaleb Diab:
And also a month later, Ziad Asali on how men must play their part in the struggle for women’s rights in Arab countries: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ziad-j-asali-md/men-must-play-their-part_b_5172728.html
Looks like Mona Eltahawy has done what she aimed to do: start a real conversation.
I recommend readers see the website of Professor Asma Barlas.
Of course much of the discrimination against the female gender has nothing to do with Islam but is of Middle Eastern culture and history.
Afterall, during Prophet Muhammad’s time, there were some crazy contemporaries who would bury their baby girls alive! So evil to kill innocent babies and moreover in such a painfully cruel way.
But there is still some discrimination against the female gender that is supported by clerics…usually the subset of clerics that is less educated clerics whose smarter older siblings were sent by their parents to be physicians and engineers but told them to be clerics since they did not do as well in their exams.
Even with the issue of the clerics which is to some extent across most of the clerics, please see the excellent talks and papers by Professor Barlas…. she shows that it is paternalistic biased reading of Islamic texts that leads to such issues and not a correct reading of the Qur’an itself.
“Do Americans Men Hate Women?”
Every minute American women get murder and rape in the U.S..
Most killer in the U.S. are choosing women.
American women are treated like sex objects.
Do arabs hate women ? no, and we don’t care what you think ? and if we do….be it, let’s see what are you gonna do about it