If that misogyny is so innately Arab, why is there such wide variance between Arab societies? Why did Egypt’s hateful “they” elect only 2 percent women to its post-revolutionary legislature, while Tunisia’s hateful “they” elected 27 percent, far short of half but still significantly more than America’s 17 percent? Why are so many misogynist Arab practices as or more common in the non-Arab societies of sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia? After all, nearly every society in history has struggled with sexism, and maybe still is. Just in the U.S., for example, women could not vote until 1920; even today, their access to basic reproductive health care is backsliding. We don’t think about this as an issue of American men, white men, or Christian men innately and irreducibly hating women. Why, then, should we be so ready to believe it about Arab Muslims?
This is a great article, despite some problematic bits. The main message that should be taken away from it is that misogyny and sexism are not solely Arab, or solely Islamic - misogyny is a world wide and global phenomenon. Misogynistic practices in Arab states are given much more credence in the U.S. than the ones that take place in non-arab and non-islamic states in Africa, for example, largely because the west is obsessed with demonizing Islam in order to justify its actions in the region.
Misogyny DOES take place in the middle east, and this cannot be denied - but to state that Islam is any more inherently misogynistic than say Christianity, is ridiculous. Other social and political systems such as sharia law and of course Wahhabi Islam ARE regionally born and based sources of misogyny, that I think do need to be looked at critically by the western world, but that is very different than saying ‘all of Islam is sexist’, or ‘all women in arab countries are oppressed’, as so many are wont to do.
The overarching theme of a white man’s burden in North America completely obscures the critical thinking that might be (or should be) taking place beneath it. When you deem all women of one system victims, and compare it to your own as the paragon of virtue, you remove yourself completely from the reality of women’s rights in the world today. Misogyny is a problem in every culture, on every continent, within every group of people. I often find that statements made about women’s rights in Africa focus the blame solely on the ‘backwards’ or ‘tribal’ african societies, discounting entirely the massive gendered effect that colonialism had on these populations and their ideas of gender equality.
The dominant image of Islam in the world today is a woman in a burqa, not a niqab, not a hijab, but a burqa, silent and oppressed. No one is arguing that the burqa (and the accompanying gendered social constraints) is not misogynistic. But the burqa is NOT the same thing as Islam, in the same way that the people from the Westboro Baptist Church who hold signs up outside funerals saying ‘god hates’ fags’ are not the same thing as Christianity. Not only does this image immediately victimize an entire gender, but it also obscures the fact that many women who practice islam CHOOSE to wear a head covering of some kind, of their own free will and volition.
I find it incredible that so many Americans would call that misogyny and yet see absolutely nothing wrong with what’s happening in their own country right now, where women are (at least in Arizona) proclaimed pregnant before they even are, making them essentially walking incubators as opposed to people capable of rational choice.
Misogyny happens everywhere - it is not endemic to one region and one region alone, or one religion. Patriarchal systems exist wherever men and women reside together, and attempting to shunt it off to the ‘arab world’ doesn’t help anyone - especially women.
Dear god this is amazing.