I am not sure of the proper terminology for the different forms of female dress favored by Islamic fundamentalists, but the cover of the current issue of Foreign Policy magazine has a photo of a woman wearing an all black outfit that reveals only her eyes – eyes that exude fear. This is what the editors term “The Sex Issue” wherein a number of articles discuss the treatment of women in the Muslim nations, mainly those in the Middle East. The lead article by Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-American journalist who was beaten and raped by Egyptian security force members last year, shows that it is worse – much worse – than we think.
I would like to believe the editors did not entitle the issue merely to gin up interest, but also to take a shot at the pervasive use of the euphemistic “gender” when making reference to sexual identity issues. Gender properly refers to grammar. Words, mainly nouns and pronouns, are assigned a gender based to some degree on the sex, or lack of it. In English, it is less important that in some other languages, where assignment of a gender to inanimate objects of generic animals is more or less arbitrary. But the use of the word has become common, in my belief, because so many are afraid that using the “s-word” must be a reference to the biological activity that still has varying degrees of taboo, depending on the situation. But I digress.
Ms. Eltahawy, and the other authors, describe the horrific manner in which women are still treated under Islamism. The so-called “Arab Spring” that overthrew long ensconced dictators in North Africa last year is not an improvement, and in some cases may be worse. The Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt will bring no better treatment of women than under Mubarak; the named successor to the 87-year old King Abdullah, Prince Nayef, will make the present king “look like Susan B. Anthony.”
“Why do they hate us?” Ms. Eltahawy asks. The truth is that the Muslim men in the Islamic culture do hate women. Why may be a mystery, or maybe not when one stops and thinks about it. It is something we need to be concerned about in our nation, with the many immigrants from those nations that have arrived here. To be fair, most Muslims who come to the United States are seeking to get out of those hell-holes and have no desire to import misogyny. There are some, however, who bring it with them. Anyone who is unaware of honor killings and other atrocities against girls and young women from immigrant Muslim families here in the U.S. is not paying attention. The Texas Penal Code has added a prohibition against female genital mutilation within the past ten years or so. It was never there before because it never occurred to anyone here that the practice existed, let alone in our country.
The magazine is available in print form at bookstores (a vanishing kind of emporium) and libraries. The articles may be viewed at this