• Il fallait entendre la délectation de Bruno Duvic lisant l’intro de l’article de Mona Eltahawy dans la revue de presse de France Inter, vendredi :

    FEMMES ARABES • Pourquoi ils nous haïssent | Courrier international

    Au début de Distant View of a Minaret [éd. Heinemann, 1983, non traduit en français], Alifa Rifaat, auteure égyptienne largement ignorée et aujourd’hui disparue, nous raconte l’histoire d’une femme tellement indifférente au coït que son mari lui impose, concentré sur son seul plaisir, qu’elle remarque la présence d’une toile d’araignée à nettoyer au plafond. Elle médite sur l’attitude de son mari, qui refuse toujours de poursuivre leurs ébats pour la faire jouir elle aussi, “comme s’il tenait à la priver [de quelque chose]”. De même qu’il lui refuse un orgasme, l’appel à la prière interrompt soudain le sien. Le mari sort. Après s’être lavée, la femme s’absorbe dans la prière – un acte tellement plus satisfaisant qu’elle attend avec impatience la prochaine – et regarde la rue depuis son balcon. Elle interrompt sa rêverie pour aller consciencieusement préparer du café pour son mari après sa sieste. Alors qu’elle apporte la boisson dans la chambre pour la verser sous les yeux de son mari – il préfère –, elle remarque qu’il est mort. Elle ordonne à son fils d’aller chercher un médecin. “Elle retourna au salon et se versa une tasse de café. Elle était elle-même surprise par son calme”, écrit Alifa Rifaat.

    « Courrier International » republie cet article en français sans évoquer la polémique qu’il a soulevée lors de sa parution dans « Foreign Policy » en avril. Quelques liens :

    Mona El Tahawy or native neo-orientalism - Ibn Kafka’s obiter dicta

    It’s of course not the need to dramatically improve the condition of women in the Arab world in order to achieve a long overdue parity that is at fault – on the contrary, witness the recent statement by Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al Sheikh according to which girls are ripe for marriage at 12. It’s rather the tone and lexical and discursive resources which El Tahawy taps into: essentialism, reduction of social and political phenomena to simple psychological factors (fear, hate), and even more so the lumping together of all men into a vague and threatening « they » – the kind of manicheism she resented when it came to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, but I suppose one has to distinguish between good manicheism and bad manicheism. That piece could have been written by David Pryce-Jones, Fouad Ajami or the staggeringly inane Lee Smith, a US journalist who wrote a 2010 book called « The strong horse » aiming to show that Arabs only understood and bowed to force and violence – unfortunately for him, 2011 came after 2010.

    An American journalist writing exclusively for European, US and Israeli media outlets, Mona El Tahawy is not interested in helping Middle Eastern activists to bring about the legislative and social changes required, or to identify the practical ways this might be achieved. No easy clues here: there’s only hate to confront. How does one confront hate – by drone attacks, invasion or forced conversion? She does not say. More importantly still, Arab men and women are not really her main target – her piece is written in the tone of a native informer bringing the White (Wo)Man her exclusive insights about the twisted minds of her fellow natives. That article is more a career move, à la Irshad Manji or Ayaan Hirsi Ali (but without the latter’s islamophobia), than a sincere contribution to a fight for equality that is both morally necessary and socially unavoidable, as Youssef Courbage and Emmanuel Todd have shown.

    Les Arabes haïssent-ils les femmes ? Mona Eltahawy face à la tempête - Global Voices

    Nous ne sommes pas faibles, Mona, et les révolutions arabes nous ont prouvé que nous étions plus fortes que nous le pensions, les héroïnes des révolutions arabes n’ont pas besoin d’être pointées du doigt.

    Je ne pense pas que nous ayons besoin d’être sauvées par des tiers de la haine ou de la vengeance de nos hommes, spécialement depuis que ces révolutions ont prouvé que nous étions plus que capables de nous dresser épaules contre épaules avec les hommes pour obtenir le progrès de nos sociétés.

    Votre article, en accord avec les photos l’illustrant, dépeint la société arabe noire, sombre, déprimante, un corps peint en noir. Vous avez réduit le problème de la femme arabe aux sentiments des hommes ; réduisant parallèlement cette dernière aux pathétiques images parfaitement conforme à la vision que l’Orient a d’elle.

    (…) La société arabe n’est pas aussi barbare que vous la dépeignez dans votre article, ce dernier renforce dans l’esprit du lecteur une vision stéréotypée de nous, stéréotype effroyablement répandu qui contribue à élargir le clivage culturel entre notre société et les autres et accroît le racisme envers nous.

    On « Why do they hate us ? » and its critics - The Arabist


    It is impossible to look at the situation of women across the Middle East and other Muslim countries and not see how increasing militarization strengthens patriarchal and heteronormative ideologies that have mutually reinforcing effects on the increased subordination of women and the propagation of masculinities. One cannot ignore the impact of globalization on economic, social and cultural rights as well as restrictions on civil and political rights. The continued growth in the power and influence of the private sector, bolstered by states pursuing neoliberal economic policies has pushed many women (and men) into the margins of society, and into irregular migration networks where they are exploited. After all, the uprisings in the Arab world have been a cry for socio-economic justice. They have also been a cry against authoritarian regimes, which also reinforce gender and other social hierarchies. Religious fundamentalism, which across all religions, is premised on absolute monolithic approaches, is just one the factors which also strengthens patriarchy.

    And let’s not forget that patriarchy, which I, like many feminists define as the privileging of male power in all forms of social relations, is a system in which men and women participate. Some of the responses to Mona El Tahawy have raised the issue that women participate in some of the practices which she criticizes, for example Female Genital Mutilation. Or, as one commentator noted, women, just as much as men, have voted Islamists into power. But women’s participation in these activities does not make them any less patriarchal.

    Some of the other criticisms of El Tahawy’s piece illustrate the dilemma of the “double bind” that African-American and other feminists have also faced. For instance, when they write about their experiences, African-American feminists often find themselves caught between confronting the patriarchy within African-American communities, and defending their African-American brothers from the broader racism that exists in American society.

    Similarly, women who identify as Islamic feminists often find themselves in this bind, as they try to reconcile their feminism and religious identity, and also defend their religion from Islamophobia.

    Feminists like El Tahawy who write about women’s subordination in the Middle East, and the critics responding to her also fall into this double bind if they are not careful in how they phrase their message. On the one hand, El Tahawy is accused of playing into Western imperialist agendas. On the other hand, her critics are in danger of becoming apologists who are pawns of their native country’s patriarchy.

    Muslimah Media Watch a proposé une revue de presse des réponses à l’article ici :

    ... et organisé une table ronde avec ses contributrices :

    Sharrae: What I think is interesting is that all the writers of the “sex issue” agree that women’s bodies are the world’s battleground. And to be honest, I don’t disagree with that statement either. However, what I find remarkable is that the writers fail to realize the ways that they, themselves, end up waging war on the Muslim woman body. As they (particularly Sadjadpour) condemn Middle Eastern men for making women the symbol of purity in society, they are making Muslim women the symbols of oppression – and liberation. A woman who wears less equals liberation; a sign of a closed gap between men and women, and thus a higher GDP, as those supposedly cloaked under “suffocating cloth” are the symbols of the deep-seeded patriarchy of both Islam and those evil Muslim men. Authors such as Eltahawy or Sadjadpour seem to be caught between two sides. They want to speak to the various problems in their ancestral homeland, but they manage to feed and reproduce images of imperialist notions of those living in the Middle East. “Name me an Arab country, and I’ll recite a litany of abuses fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend,” Eltahawy commands, after requesting that readers put aside what the United States does or doesn’t do to women.

    Krista: Like many others, I was really turned off by the framing of the piece. I’m not sure that “hatred” is really the issue; patriarchy and sexist violence in all societies are rooted in more than just men who hate women. Moreover, “Why do they hate us?” was a rallying cry post-September 11, used to point to “them” as irrational and hateful, and “us” as the good ones. While the “us” is different in Eltahawy’s piece, the “they” is largely the same: violent, irrational, hateful Muslim and/or Arab men. So it’s not just that the title is inaccurate or melodramatic; it’s also very clearly part of the same rhetoric that has drummed up support for wars in the not-so-distant past.

    Let’s Talk About Sex - Jadaliyya

    Then there is the visual. A naked and beautiful woman’s flawless body unfolds a niqab of black paint. She stares at us afraid and alluring. We are invited to sexualize and rescue her at once. The images reproduce what Gayatri Spivak critiqued as the masculine and imperial urge to save sexualized (and racialized) others. The photo spread is reminiscent of Theo van Gogh’s film Submission, based on Ayyan Hirsli Ali’s writings, in which a woman with verses of the Quran painted on her naked body and wearing a transparent chador writhes around a dimly lit room. Foreign Policy’s “Sex Issue” montage is inspired by the same logic that fuels Submission: we selectively highlight the plight of women in Islam using the naked female body as currency. The female body is to be consumed, not covered!

    #femmes #islam #racisme