Cruel Ironies

Ophelia Benson

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Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution, by Mona Eltahawy (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015, ISBN 978-0-86547-803-9). 256 pp. Softcover, $23.00.


Mona Eltahawy’s article in Foreign Policy in 2012, “Why Do They Hate Us?," was a bombshell. I was relieved to see it: I’d been following Eltahawy’s reporting on the revolution in Egypt and largely taking my cue from her on how to think about it. “Mona Eltahawy thinks it’s a great thing, and she should know," was my heuristic. But at the same time I kept worrying. “But what about the Islamists? What about the Muslim Brotherhood? Mubarak is awful, but are you sure if he goes the Islamists won’t take his place? What about the women?" The Foreign Policy article made it very clear that Eltahawy was not ignoring that issue, nor was she prettying it up, even for the glory of the revolution.

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