On Read Club This Week – Mona Eltahawy Tackles A Vital Issue With Headscarves & Hymen


Mona Eltahawy’s 2015 book, Headscarves and Hymens,  is a book that everyone, especially women, needs to read as it deals with themes like feminism, Female Genital Mutilation, Domestic Violence and Rape.

Headscarves and Hymen

Mona strips to the barest of details; in a tone that could only be described as angry, the Egyptian American leads the reader unto a journey filled with bitter truths and painful recollections.

‘Being a woman anywhere is dangerous’ she writes and tells of how women like herself are groped even at Hajj.

She proposes that modesty and sexual purity are not methods that prevent women from sexual abuse despite claims from conservative clerics and legislators. She argues against men who use patriarchy that has existed in cultures and religion to their advantages and calls for a change in the norm.

Society has not been fair to women, one will decipher is the book’s subliminal message; she recounts tales about FGM that is prevalent in some Arab cultures and the perils of misogyny on the female sex to the dire point where a rape victim is married off to her rapist as a measure which families claim is to rid their daughter of shame.

Stories like these and more reveal what women have to bear despite the certain improvements in the world’s ideologies and Mona calls for a revolution in the home, like women have done in countries like Egypt, Libya and Tunisia where they have stood beside men to topple dictators.

She kicks against the male guardianship system where a girl or woman can’t leave her home without a male acting as a guide, this isn’t how progress is meant to look like and to the liberal reader, this is a noteworthy argument.

She speaks about Saudi Arabia’s policy on women driving, partaking in sports and politics and calls for a change in the way the kingdom view women.

To those who feel this book is a vilification against Islam and Arab culture, we certainly need to educate ourselves more because let’s face it Arab women live in a society that is fundamentally hostile and upholded by misogyny, patriarchy and plain contempt.

We also need to examine our beliefs and how it treats our boys, girls, men and our women and ask ourselves; is it really worth it?.


Written by @AdedapoX for The Read Club



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