One of these reactions is Monica L. Marks’ “Do Arabs Really ‘Hate’ Women? The Problem With Native Informants” at Huffington Post.
Both articles are interesting, though I do see problems with both approaches. I can certainly follow Monica’s criticism of Mona as generalizing way too much, and not relating to the cultural differences in the various countries, but Monica’s approach to Mona is also somewhat problematic, basically casting suspicion on Mona and others like her (Monica mentions a number of women ‘informants’ in the article), especially with wordings like the second part of the title and sentences like stating that “by stirring up our sympathies and reinforcing our prejudices, individuals like Ms. Hirsi Ali and Ms. Eltahawy have climbed to the top of the media ladder,” hinting that they are doing this more to get sympathy and a good carrier, than based on a sincere wish to change the ME societies.
But as said, I do think that Monica has some correct points of view, such as when she objects against the leveling these actions and incidents, which are being described by Mona, with the whole religious system of Islam (is she?), and that there isn’t only one reason for the Muslim woman to wear a scarf, whatever shape and form it comes in. She especially has a point when she states that “many people in the Middle East believe that Western women who wear miniskirts and bikinis do so because they are oppressed by a culture that objectifies & sexually commodifies women’s bodies, or because they are simply morally loose women.” Not that I necessarily agree in this view, but how people understand cultures and cultural behaviors differ. We have to understand that we are not always viewing things the same way, and what for some people might seem as being imprisoning oneself, might seem for others to climb on a higher level of discipline.
I do still agree with Mona to a great extent, I do believe that there is a problem here in the ME (also partly here in Israel), but I’m not sure I would blame the religion (Islam), but rather how people are expressing it, maybe there is the problem found.
What do you think?
Ps. Regarding the title, I know that it can be understood somehow as an attack on Arabs, but just as Arabs are not all Muslims, so not all Muslims are Arab. That duality was my attempt to capture in the title. If I didn’t succeed, then please let me know.