Headscarves and Hymens Book Summary - Headscarves and Hymens Book explained in key points
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Headscarves and Hymens summary

Mona Eltahawy

Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution

3.7 (156 ratings)
17 mins

Brief summary

Headscarves and Hymens by Mona Eltahawy is a feminist manifesto that examines the oppression of women in the Middle East and North Africa. It advocates for a revolution against misogyny and the patriarchy and calls for the liberation of Arab women.

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    Headscarves and Hymens
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    Arab women live amid hostile, misogynistic environments.

    Most Westerners are aware that women in the Arab world don’t enjoy equal rights, but might not know of the astounding daily abuse under which many women suffer.

    The author believes Islamic religion encourages discrimination, and its influence is directly related to the promotion of a misogynistic culture throughout Arab nations.

    Misogyny – hatred of women – is rampant in the Arabic-speaking areas of the Middle East and North Africa. Many people in these regions subscribe to ultra-conservative interpretations of Islam, ideas which spawn societies obsessed with the control of women.

    This is especially true among Salafi groups or those who follow the Sunni sect of Islam, as well as in political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood or Shiite militias in Iraq. In general, the social control of women and inequality between the sexes are the norm throughout the Islamic world.

    In many places, family matters are handled by religious courts that enforce Islamic laws. These laws are supposed to protect families but fail to prevent atrocities such as child marriage, marital rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence.

    In Egypt, for example, a court can decide that an Egyptian man may beat his wife with “good intentions” and not face any consequences. In Yemen, 2013, an eight-year-old girl was forced to marry a man five times her senior. She died on her wedding night from the internal bleeding she sustained as a result of her husband raping her.

    But despite such horrific cases, voices for child marriage are more prevalent than those opposed. Yemeni clerics essentially support pedophilia by referencing the example of the Prophet Mohammed, whose second wife was a child when they were wed.

    Because of practices like child marriage, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report, which measures levels of inequality, found that no Arab country qualified to appear in the list of top 100 countries working to close the gender gap.

    Morocco, a nation that has been questionably praised as supporting “progressive” family policies, was listed at 129; Yemen appeared at the very bottom of the list.

    While the situation of women in many Arabic-speaking nations is dire, many people aren’t aware of the specifics of what being an Arab woman is like in daily life. Let’s find out why.

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    What is Headscarves and Hymens about?

    Headscarves and Hymens (2015) chronicles the many levels of abuse suffered by women in the Arab world and what brave feminist activists are doing about these injustices. These blinks describe the various forms of oppression women face, from child marriage to virginity tests, and call for a sexual revolution in Islamic nations.

    Headscarves and Hymens Review

    Headscarves and Hymens (2015) by Mona Eltahawy sheds light on the oppressive treatment of women in the Middle East and North Africa. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers eye-opening insights into the experiences of women living in cultures where they are denied basic rights, challenging readers to confront uncomfortable truths.
    • The book combines compelling personal narratives and well-researched facts to provide a comprehensive understanding of the issues at hand.
    • With its fierce advocacy for gender equality and the dismantling of patriarchal structures, this book presents a powerful call to action for all readers.

    Best quote from Headscarves and Hymens

    90 percent of married women in Egypt have their genitals cut to remain pure for their husbands.

    —Mona Eltahawy
    example alt text

    Who should read Headscarves and Hymens?

    • Feminists of all colors, genders and religions
    • Political or social scientists interested in gender inequality in Arab countries
    • Anyone concerned about human rights.

    About the Author

    Mona Eltahawy is an Egyptian-American journalist based in New York City. She has covered current events in Egypt and general political and social issues in the Middle East. Headscarves and Hymens is her first book and expands on her controversial 2012 article published in Foreign Affairs on Muslim men, entitled Why Do They Hate Us?

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    Headscarves and Hymens FAQs 

    What is the main message of Headscarves and Hymens?

    The main message of Headscarves and Hymens is to expose and challenge the oppressive treatment of women in the Middle East.

    How long does it take to read Headscarves and Hymens?

    The reading time for Headscarves and Hymens varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Headscarves and Hymens a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Headscarves and Hymens is worth reading for its powerful exploration of the struggles faced by women in the Middle East and the call for change. It offers important insights and challenges societal norms.

    Who is the author of Headscarves and Hymens?

    Mona Eltahawy is the author of Headscarves and Hymens.

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