Mona Eltahawy’s Article Challenging Misogyny in the Middle East Sparks Backlash
Thursday, May 24, 2012 1:30 PM

After surviving a sexual assault in Tahrir Square while covering the Arab Spring in Egypt, Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian journalist, wrote an essay entitled "Why Do They Hate Us" for Foreign Policy magazine. In it, she argues that hatred of women underlies the politics in most of the Arab world. Almost immediately critics condemned her as an apologist for Western intervention and argued that she makes all Muslim women look like helpless victims. However, Eltahawy challenges these criticisms. She explains, "To say that there is patriarchy in Arab culture is not denying women agency….  What I was saying to the outside world was: okay, outside world, here's what I want you to do now. When they tell you that this is our culture, stay out of it, listen instead to the voices of the women in the region who are fighting. The region is going through an incredibly exciting time, and if we don't have this conversation as the revolutions are happening, then once again women will lose." 
Eltahawy’s article was also criticized for highlighting misogyny only in the Arab world. She also rejects that critique, explaining that she knows patriarchy exists everywhere but wanted to focus on the region of her birth.  She explains the problem is global and centers around religious extremists who hold negative attitudes toward women. The problem is not limited to any particular religion, culture, or geographic area.
Compiled from: Penny, Laurie. Mona Eltahawy: Egypt’s angry young woman. The Independent (17 May 2012).