Yasmine El Rashidi Interviews Mona Eltahawy


In Bidoun:

I reach people who speak English, yes, and I have a large following in America, it’s true. But I’m also reaching people who speak Arabic. A lot of people on Twitter — the very same people who were angry at me over that Foreign Policy article — they were venting on Twitter and Facebook in English. They speak Arabic, too.

I wrote that essay understanding very well that I’m privileged. And I wrote that essay trying to look beyond my privilege. I wrote that essay to address people who are also privileged, and to ask them to look beyond that privilege.

I was interviewed by BBC Hard Talk a few weeks ago, and one of the questions that Stephen Sackur asked me was, “After what happened to you, where they beat you and broke your bones and sexually assaulted you — don’t you think that this essay was written out of personal anger?” Of course it was written out of anger, just not the anger he was talking about. My anger was a product of the realization that if I wasn’t who I was, if I didn’t have the privileges I have, I might very well be dead. If I didn’t have a high media profile, when I sent out that tweet saying I had been arrested, Al Jazeera and the State Department wouldn’t have picked up my story. Certainly not as quickly as they did. This hashtag #freemona wouldn’t have started trending globally in fifteen minutes. I probably would have died or been gang-raped or something horrendous.

I was so disheartened and angry by those people who verbally attacked me. We have to look beyond our privileges and see how horrendous it is to be a woman in so many parts of the Arab world. Clearly the women I’m writing about are not going to read my Foreign Policyarticle, and even if they did, so what? They’re not the audience. That audience, my audience, is those who know how bad it is, and yet their privilege prevents them from being outraged enough. And it’s that outrage that will make our revolution really succeed. The revolution to get Mubarak out of our heads! Mubarak is still in our heads. He’s called Morsi now!

El Rashidi
I know. It feels, at times, like it’s a farce….

It is, it is! And it couldn’t have happened any other way because we had nothing else available. The revolution is not over, but it will not succeed until we get women involved, too. That’s the social and cultural revolution.

El Rashidi
Many say that the Muslim Brotherhood will serve as a catalyst for the real revolution.

The Muslim Brotherhood is going to help really pinpoint this. You hear how Morsi talks. You hear how the Salafis talk. You see how women are addressed in the constitution. Mubarak is still up here. [Points] He’s in prison now but still terrorizing our minds. Unless we get him out of our heads the revolution is fucked.

More here.