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Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution Hardcover – April 21, 2015
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“Turn to any page of Headscarves and Hymens and you'll find a statistic or anecdote to make your blood boil . . . [Eltahawy] has now expanded that [Foreign Policy] article into a book, Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution, which blends her own story-an ideological journey toward feminism while growing up in Egypt, England and Saudi Arabia-with a sweeping portrait of what life is like for women in the Middle East. The same righteous anger that propelled her essay fuels her book. It's easy to see why she's so incensed.” ―Bari Weiss, The Wall Street Journal
“Headscarves and Hymens is a small but packed manifesto, incendiary by design . . . With this book, [Mona Eltahawy] is wisely exploiting her fame to further her cause, which is the physical and emotional emancipation of Arab women . . . Eltahawy is a relentless cataloguer of all the ways the Arab world continues to cloak misogyny in religious fervor.” ―Connie Schultz, The Washington Post
“Eltahawy has issued a bold manifesto for women's rights . . . For the sake of the 'double revolution' for women in the Middle East, it's a good thing that Eltahawy has remained fearless.” ―Asra Q. Nomani, Ms. Magazine
“Eltahawy exposes hard truths about the current state of gender equality in the Arab world. She is brutally honest in her accounts of the oppression and violence that women regularly face . . . Eltahawy issues a rallying cry in hopes of ending the silence that too often surrounds women's issues globally. . . Eltahawy is unflinching in her look at the oppression of women in the Middle East and North Africa, but she reminds us that women are subjugated across cultures and that it should not be used as an excuse to demonize Islam.” ―Stephanie Long, Bustle
“This is a timely and provocative call to action for gender equality in the Middle East.” ―Publishers Weekly
“A remarkable book . . . Eltahawy is brave, determined, and at times deliberately provocative . . . Eltahawy's voice is full of energy, purposefulness and courage. Her rightful anger helps her to not shy away from difficult questions . . . Headscarves and Hymens is timely, important and much needed.” ―Elif Shafak, Literary Review
“This is a powerful global feminist demand for equal rights.” ―Vanessa Bush, Booklist
“In her debut book, Egyptian-American journalist and commentator Eltahawy mounts an angry indictment of the treatment of women throughout the Arab world.” ―Kirkus Review
“This is not an easy book to read-why should it be? Eltahawy's Headscarves and Hymens is a story of terrorism and torture endured by bodies as fragile as that of a five-year-old girl and as vulnerable as that of protestor splayed by soldiers stomping her bared chest. Why should it be easy to encounter Eltahawy's own testimony of sexual and physical assault meted out as punishment for resisting totalitarianism? This book is not easy because it is born out of the ongoing struggle of how women can bear witness to their own abuse and oppression while trying to shield their families, communities, nations, and faith from the ugly and dangerous presumptions of Muslim barbarism that fuel Islamaphobia. It is not easy because it forces all of us to examine our ignorance, our complicity, our silence in the face of gender violence perpetrated in the name of religion, culture, and tradition.This book is not easy to read, but it is necessary. Necessary because the warrior journalist who is Mona Eltahawy refuses to leave women crushed beneath the feet of their abusers or hidden behind their veils. Eltahawy recovers women's activism, art, voices, humanity, and demands for a revolution that makes a material difference for them, their daughters, sisters, friends, lovers, and teachers.” ―Melissa Harris-Perry, host of MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry”
“‘The most subversive thing a woman can do is talk about her life as if it really matters,' says Mona Eltahawy in this courageous blend of the personal and the academic and the political. In the hands of Eltahawy, so many silences are opened. She writes about what others have largely feared: the body politic and the body sexual. This is a ground-shaping book that defines the edge of so many vital contemporary debates. Hers is a voice simultaneously behind and beyond the veil.” ―Colum McCann, author of TransAtlantic
“Mona Eltahawy brings a journalist's keen eye, a revolutionary's prophetic courage, and a feminist's incendiary intellect to this work, demolishing the last cultural relativist myths. And she writes so well that it's hard to put down this audacious, information-packed treasure about the half of the Arab world that's female. Miss this book--the real key to the Middle East--at your peril.” ―Robin Morgan
“One of the most powerful books I've ever read. And will ever read. No matter where she is-in Cairo during the Arab Spring, in the Saudi Arabia of her adolescence, in Oklahoma talking about American 'purity balls' with students, in a dozen countries across the Middle East and North Africa-Mona Eltahawy skilfully dismantles the religious, political, and familial machines that maim and silence girls and women everywhere. She is fearlessly honest about her own struggles as an Arab Muslim woman-to tell or not to tell when men accosted her in public, to wear or to not wear hijab (and how to take the hijab off), to wait or not to wait to have sex until marriage. She challenges men and boys, too, to transform themselves and their societies. Her honesty, her anger, and her unrepentant joy in being alive make Headscarves and Hymens more than an important feminist manifesto. It is a meticulously, beautifully drawn map to freedom.” ―Karen Connelly
“Headscarves and Hymens is a call to arms by a woman who's plainly proud of her justified rage . . . "It is the job of a revolution to shock, to provoke, and to upset," Eltahawy writes, "not to behave or be polite." Mission accomplished.” ―Marcia Kaye, The Toronto Star
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Top Customer Reviews
Mona wants women to speak out about their situations. "As risky as it is to speak publicly about street sexual harassment and assault, though, speaking out against sex abuse, speaking out against the crimes that go on in the home, is riskier. Home is where the hurt is, and home is where we must start to heal." Hopefully, Mona's outspoken frankness will encourage other women to follow her lead. She concludes, "Women -- our rage, our tenacity, our daring and audacity -- will free our countries."
This book is hard to put down, as it dashes from one outrage to another. Along the way, readers are left with countless imponderables -- why is a male baby's urine clean, but not that of a female baby?Read more ›
“My own feminist revolution evolved slowly, and traveled the world with me. To this day I have no idea what dissident professor or librarian placed feminist tests on the bookshelves at the university library in Jeddah, but I found them there. They filled me with terror. I understood they were pulling at a thread that would unravel everything. Now that I am older, I can see that feeling terrified is how you recognize what you need. Terror encourages you to jump, even when you don't know if you will ever land.”
“Almost a century after Huda Shaarawi removed her face veil, we are floundering—and we will continue to flounder as long as a woman's body remains the canvas upon which we signal our acquiescence to conservatism and patriarchy."
“Women have fought alongside men in political revolutions that have toppled dictators. But once these regimes fell, women have looked around to find the same oppression, sometimes inflicted by the men they stood shoulder to shoulder with, by men who claimed to be protecting them.”
“Being a woman anywhere is dangerous.”
“Unless we draw the connection between the misogyny of the state and of the street, and unless we emphasize the need for a social and sexual revolution, our political revolutions will fail. Just important, women will never be free to live as autonomous citizens whose bodily integrity is safe inside and outside the home.”
“The god of virginity is popular in the Arab world. It doesn't matter if you're a person of faith or an atheist, Muslim or Christian—everybody worships the god of virginity. Everything possible is done to keep the hymen—that most fragile foundation upon which the god of virginity sits—intact.Read more ›
" Headscarves and Hymens " is written by a person full of passion and anger . You can sense that almost immediately after reading just the first few pages of the first chapter. Eltahawy has strong opinions on various sensitive subjects such as the niqab and FGM and is not afraid of putting them out there for debate . Overall though , the book falls a bit short of the charm Eltahawy has shown as a commentator in various newsrooms . Her analysis on how the oppresion of women connects with the culture , religion and society lacks clarity and her positions seem to be based mostly on individuals' experiences of either oppresion or heroism which are difficult to be verify .
The best parts of the book are the ones on which she focuses on her personal lifestory . The pages about her loosing her virginity at 29 are both touching and bravely written . Eltahawy is often dismissed by some members of the arab community which seem to believe no complaints are justified when it comes to the Middle East and its treatment women population . I beg to differ .Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well written, clear analysis of the situaton for women in the Middle East. The author brings new information and uncovers Egyptian politics in a way that educates the reader.Published 22 days ago by Amazon Customer
This is a shocking book, an exposé of female suffering--mainly sexual-- in the Arab world. Very bold and easy to read but difficult to digestPublished 1 month ago by Alex Canton-Dutari
This author is heavily influenced by Marxist philosophy and she views religion, ALL religions not just Islam ,as a vehicle used by men for the purposes of suppression and social... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Fiona Ó Dochartaigh
Very informative book about the situation of woman in the middle east. It is mostly descriptive though without a lot of statistical evidence.Published 2 months ago by Pavlov
A close look at how the belief systems of the Middle East affect its culture and the lives of women born into that culture. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kindle Customer
This book speaks volumes as to where humanity in the world stands today. Mona Eltahawy bravely tells it all in a way that shakes us at the core. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Edmond S. Tehan
This book gave an otherwise hidden insight to the horrors that the women of Islam endure for their men and their religion. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Andrewbali