In the newest edition of "Foreign Policy" the columnist Mona El-Tahawy wrote an article with the title "Why do you hate us?" describing the problems women face at the hands of oppressing men in the Arab world. In the last 24 hours the article has ignited a firestorm on social media with people heatedly debating the issue and many lashing out at the author for the things she wrote. Many blogposts were written attacking her for supposedly being anti-Islam, depicting men in a bad light, shaming the Arab region in front of the western world and much more. Most blogposts transport the old thinking that the truth should not be told openly - most often considered a taboo - and that men aren't the way Mona describes them. The journalist Dima Khatib now too replied to Mona's article in a blogpost named "Love, Not Hatred, Dear Mona" - it is the first blogpost I find respectable, although I do not share her views. But I encourage you to read her post - and here is my reply to her.
Dear Dima Khatib,
though I do not agree wholly with your euphemistic view of the situation of Arab women it can be said that this is undoubtedly the most sincere and constructive post dealing critically with the article of Mona.
Unfortunately Dima, I - as a man - have to tell you that the 'hate' you all get so heated up about and don't want to believe exists is very much inherent in many men around the globe. While you all naturally would love to see us men in a good light so as not to rob you of hope it has to be noted that very many men in the world - not only in MENA - are not only afraid of women but truly hate them. Why?
Because you make our blood boil, you make us lose our head, you incite us to do things we normally wouldn't do, you make us skip our friends over you and fall out on their friendship, you get us to show emotions (we hate that the most), you tick off a process in us that we cannot control, a sex urge that leads us to a point of no return - which we hate, because we men always want to be in control. And then we awake from the orgasm - which in men other than in women can be like cooling down high temperature in seconds - and suddenly we are back to our normal self. And then many men say: What was this? Why did I do this? Why did I react this way? Why did I lose my head, my control, my composure? I, a man who is always in control? What did this evil woman do to me?
Bewitched me, tempted me (shame on her), transformed me into a person without own will (hate you for that).
If it hadn't been for Eve then Adam would never have stumbled, would never have been expelled from paradise. It is women who cause all the trouble, because they lure us into sexuality where we do not know anymore what we are doing.
Grossly exaggerated? You wish. - I am not saying that every man reacts this way. Many in fact have learned to control themselves or to let themselves go in relationships, to even show emotions without dying from it - yes, to even learn to enjoy enjoying sex and not just working off an urge that needs to be removed from the system.
The sad fact - and I know more intimate details of men's thinking on this then any woman will ever want to learn - is that many men who do react uncontrollably fear you women like the devil - worse indeed hate you for producing such reactions within us.
And it is at this point that the whole critique at the word 'hate' Mona used is running empty. The salafis show in every inch of their behaviour that they do indeed hate women and for that reason suppress them. And if you want to know why - see above. Because they have a huge issue with sexuality that they do not enjoy but see as something devilish that drives them into an uncontrollable state. They don't want to ever lose control of themselves - you come and make it happen. They don't want to show emotions - you come and demand just that. They hate to not know what they are doing - you are the reason they get into such a miserable state.
I've been following up on the discussion about this article now for 24 hours and all I can say - it is a bitter truth, but swallow it. Many men - and many men in the Arab world (that is what Mona talked about) - do hate women and show it in all their contempt - starting from condoning female genital mutilation (if she does not feel something, he can finish quicker and won't lose control), encouraging teenage marriages (treat the young already as possession then they won't get ideas), denying fundamental rights so all will be in control. In the male control. Stuff the women who only cause trouble.
Then there are those you talk about - nice men, respectful, perhaps even worshipping women. But those are not the issue - neither in the article nor in the real life oppressing women. Mona talked about those men that DO oppress you. And she said bluntly and truthfully what is behind that oppression.
If you don't believe men can hate women, just go to Iran and see what happens there in forcing 9 year old girls into marriage, watch women get lashed 90 times in Saudi - for having been raped -, check teenage girls getting forced to marry rapists in Morocco, or acknowledge young women getting honour killed for having been abused by soldiers in Libya. You call all this love, and love will solve all problems?
What unfortunately you and all other women will have to accept is that it is hatred that is behind that and that men who torture, rape, beat, oppress and even kill women do this out of hate, not out of love. Obvious one should think, but apparently so hard to bear for women who would love to see the world be so much better.
Sorry for the truth, but it does not help oppressed women if we deny what cannot be denied. I am grateful to Mona she had the guts to say how it is. And I wish more women would have the courage to face the truth - and start thinking about ways to change from there. It would help you all a lot more than remaining in a state of wishful thinking - quoting you: "If only we could learn how to love again, so that men learn to love women without controlling them, and women learn to love men instead of loving to please men. How about we start from love, Mona, instead of hatred?" - and idealizing those men that lash, beat, force, deny and do even a lot worse to you wonderful women.
They don't talk love, they talk hate, Dima. That is a fact that must be faced. It's not easy and it needs courage, I know. But in overcoming oppression facing facts is a must.