The Real War On Women

There is a war on women going on, it’s been going on a long time, and it’s in the Middle East.

Although there’s room to believe there’s some occasional exaggeration–in many traditionalist cultures, women have far more power in the household than is shown to the outside world–there can be no doubt that in the public sphere and at least sometimes in the private sphere it’s a horror show. And for all the good being done during the “Arab Spring,” some ugliness is coming out that needs to be observed, acknowledged, and talked about, so that those taking power or finding their voices in the Middle East do not get to silence other important voices. Mona Eltahawy has a riveting look in Why Do They Hate Us? The Real War On Women Is In The Middle East.

Riveting and sickening. Read the whole thing.

(This item cross-posted to Dean’s World.)

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Author: DEAN ESMAY, Guest Voice Columnist

Dean Esmay is a long-time associate of Joe Gandelman and The Moderate Voice. He is Managing Editor of A Voice for Men. He also blogs on a variety of issues at Dean's World, one of the world's first blogs and one of the few that was archived as Historically Significant by the Library of Congress for the 2004 elections. You can also follow Dean via Twitter here.

  • slamfu

    I think of this topic a lot. Its mind boggling that nations still behave the way they do in the Middle East.

  • zephyr

    Thanks Dean for this post and thanks to Mona Eltahawy for writing the story.

    I doubt many American women would want to live in the places Eltahawy is writing about, but most of those women probably wouldn’t want to come to America either. The differences in cultures, political and gender dynamics are like the Grand Canyon.

    Needless to say, the abuses of women described by Eltahawy are barbaric and horrific. “Hate” is not too strong a word in those cases. It should be said, there are writers who take issue with Eltahawy’s portrayal of cultural misogyny:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/monica-l-marks/do-arabs-really-hate-wome_b_1453147.html

    http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/04/25/do-arabs-hate-women-mona-eltahawy-faces-firestorm/

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/25/arab-men-women-mona-eltahawy?newsfeed=true

    To what degree are we complicit in the cultural and religious abuses of these women based on the business as usual we conduct with some of these countries? We ALL put gas in our cars that comes from middle eastern oil. But it’s all so abstract for us isn’t it..

  • roro80

    Yes, these are very important issues. What I don’t appreciate is the implication that because a lot of women in this country think the chipping away of their rights and equality is crap that somehow that means that we don’t care about women in other countries. Most of us do, in fact, have the capability to care about both things. Is all the inane sexist GOP BS going on in the US right now proof that women in the US are the worst off in the whole world? Of course not. That doesn’t mean we don’t get to care about the issues here, too.

  • http://yahoo late bloomer

    No, of course we women in the US are alot better off than women in the Middle East, but being born female in the US still means you are a second class citizen. And, you would have to be born female to understand!

  • merkin

    It is important to point out that while there is a large difference in the degree of public misogyny between the Middle East and the US its source in both is the same, religious fundamentalism.

    It is a reaction to and a retreat from modernity. It is characterized by attempts to enforce their beliefs on the whole society, not just their own adherents, through the use of the powers of the state. And often when their supposed moral superiority doesn’t even convince their own adherents, for example on the use of contraception, they need the state to enforce their strictures on their own.

    You can’t run away from the fact that the primary force behind the War on Women is religion.

  • roro80

    “You can’t run away from the fact that the primary force behind the War on Women is religion.”

    Religion gives cover and structure and excuse to misogyny, but it’s not really the source, Merkin. Athiest communities and groups are notorious for their sexism. It’s one of the big reasons I’m an athiest but not part of any atheist groups or online communities. Case and point: Bill Maher.

    No, we can’t blame religion for everything, Merkin, and this is one of those things where the blame isn’t well placed.

  • dmf

    I really can’t stand it when people phrase their argument about something vaguely related to something else in a way that seems to say, “Your argument is invalid because this situation is MUCH WORSE.”

    This is what is communicated when it’s phrased like “the REAL war…” as in, yours isn’t the real one. And there can be only one (Highlander pun not intended). And mine is it.

    So I guess American women in physically abusive relationships should just be quiet and thank [whomever] that they don’t live in the Middle East where honor killings are still practiced, eh?

    Come on now.

  • dduck

    DMF, “the REAL war…” as in, yours isn’t the real one”

    I was waiting for some one to pick up on that.
    I think we at TMV are inured to these kinds of headlines, and focus on the article instead.

  • dmf

    “Instead”? Are you in some way saying that idea in the title is either irrelevant or doesn’t carry in to the article? Because it absolutely does. Read the first damn line.

    You don’t get to cherry-pick, here. And being casually dismissive of other problems just because there are bigger ones out there isn’t exactly some sort of new phenomenon. Or acceptable. This isn’t semantics. This is a problem.