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Picture a woman in the Middle East, and probably the first thing that comes into your mind will be the hijab.You might not even envision a face, just the black shroud of the burqa or the niqab.This is a big part of how misogynistic practices became especially common in the Muslim world (another reason is that, when the West later promoted secular rulers, anti-colonialists adopted extreme religious interpretations as a way to oppose them).
The colonial rulers who conquered Muslim societies were skilled at pulling out the slightest justification for their "patriarchal bargain." They promoted the religious leaders who were willing to take this bargain and suppressed those who objected."Women and children were the inevitable chips with which the political and religious leaders bargained." Some misogynist practices predated colonialism.But many of those, for example female genital mutilation, also predated Islam.As Maya Mikdashi once wrote, "Gender is not the study of what is evident, it is an analysis of how what is evident came to be." That's a much tougher task than cataloging the awful and often socially accepted abuses of women in the Arab world.But they both matter, and Eltahawy's lengthy article on the former might reveal more of the latter than she meant.