We all saw the episode of Le’bet Newton with the scene of Mo’nes forcing Hana to unwillingly engage with him in sexual intercourse, and in case you don’t know, this is considered marital rape. Once the episode was aired, a heated discussion started on social media among online Egyptian users. And unfortunately, despite how inhumane marital rape is, people were still taking sides on the issue.
The roots for such ignorance could be several reasons, such as the decriminalizing marital rape, the lack of sex education among Egyptians, and the patriarchal nature of the Egyptian society where the woman’s body is objectified and considered a tool for the man’s satisfaction.
Egypt has a long history of shame culture and tabooing topics which have so much harm on women and their physical and mental health; from girls hiding their period from their fathers, to the lack of mention of the necessary safety during sexual intercourse in school’s curriculums and to putting the blame on women’s bodies and their clothes when they get harassed or raped.
Thus, Egypt is in desperate need of change. The Egyptian-American journalist and activist, Mona Eltahawy, has been using her voice to call for gender equality for years. She believes that we can achieve that by destroying patriarchy which is the source of all kinds of oppression. In her book, The Seven Necessary Sins, she makes sure to prove that the patriarchy transcends borders, religions, and class, as she wrote about female genital mutilation in Egypt as well as Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of the US gymnastics team.
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But we’re all a collection of paradoxes and contradictions and Mona Eltahawy is no exception. Although she calls for the freedom of women when it comes to their bodies, she often forgets that the freedom of bodies also includes their freedom of dressing the way they want. She was previously criticized by Muslim feminists for her support for Europe’s legalization of banning the niqab. Her standpoint was somehow improved as shifted her criticism towards French President Macron and explained how he was only doing this to appeal to the xenophobic voters during elections.
Eltahawy has written two books, Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution and The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls. She has a newsletter where she writes thrice a week called, Feminist Giant and you can subscribe to it to get news about feminism from all around the world. She also uses her Twitter as another platform to make her voice heard across the globe with almost 400,000 people following her.
My response to demands for civility and politeness will always be this from November 2019
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) April 10, 2021
As a side note, it’s never too late to get educated about our bodies, especially the myth of hymens. Nour Emam, the woman behind @thisismotherbeing on Instagram, is providing sex education and topics we long taught are considered immoral to talk about. Just be aware, she puts aside all the religious views and speaks from a scientific perspective.
Studying mass communication by day, having tea with Murakami by night. Nour goes back and forth between Cairo and Dubai which makes her curious about the diverse cultures in the world!