Mona Eltahawy: Headscarves and Hymens

Featured International Memoir/Biography Podcast Write Up

“The rage shifts from the oppressors in our presidential palaces to the oppressors on our streets and in our homes —unless we topple the Mubaraks in our mind, in our bedrooms, and on our street corners — our revolution has not yet begun.”

This quote ends the first chapter of Mona Eltahawy’s Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution. Mona Eltahawy is an award-winning Egyptian American feminist. She has written for establishments like The New York Times and the Washington Post. She spends her time between Cairo and New York. Mona is a strong proponent of “FUCK THE PATRIARCHY”.

In this episode, Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane sat down with Mona to discuss her much acclaimed book. Mona shares stories about how the book came about. It initially started as an essay titled “Why They Hate Us”, then the essay blossomed into a necessary book. The book tells the story of Muslim womxn and how they are subjugated under the gaze of faith and culture. Mona describes the thesis of the book as the trifecta of misogyny, which is the State, Street and home together oppressing girls and womxn.

The conversation also touches on our how institutions like religion are used as conduits of patriarchy. Letlhogonolo and Mona spoke on a range of interesting topics, such as identity, (Black) feminism, consent, queerness and some of her favorite writers. At the time of recording Black Panther was a huge point of discussion, so they spoke about North Africa and the anti-blackness that exists in that part of the region.

Mona believes in the autonomy of womxn and upholds the proclamation: “I own my body”. This conversation is both illuminating as it is incendiary. At the end of the podcast, she also reveals that she is working on a new book.

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