A quick post, mainly some links about women in the Middle East, sparked by this FP article (and it’s ridiculous cover): http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/04/23/why_do_they_hate_us
This response is particularly intersting: http://samiacharquaouia.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/dear-mona-eltahawy-you-do-not-represent-us/
In my opinion it fits with the broad view of many left-leaning academics that ever-so-slightly gloss over the fact that women’s rights in the Middle East are appalling. Yes, it wasn’t long ago that the West was in a similar position. Yes, we shouldn’t be biased because of Saudi Arabia. Yes, the Middle East isn’t a monolith. And yes, the Hijab isn’t a bad thing. But that doesn’t mean that we should avoid relativism entirely.
There is some shocking behaviour and opinions of women that I see every day in Saudi Arabia, I saw every day in Cairo, and I have seen in Bahrain. Not a single Arab country ranks in the top 100 in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, putting the region as a whole solidly at the planet’s rock bottom. I’m not saying this is an Islamic trend, but a trend of the region, and we should not try to completely debunk those who draw attention to it.