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Mona Eltahawy and the New Feminist Extremism

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Mona Eltahawy speaks at the Women's Media Center 2015 Women's Media Awards. Eltahawy was an honoree at the event (Photo: Brian Ach/Getty Images)
Mona Eltahawy speaks at the Women’s Media Center 2015 Women’s Media Awards. Eltahawy was an honoree at the event (Photo: Brian Ach/Getty Images)

For months, I’ve been wanting to have a conversation about Mona Eltahawy and the new feminist extremism she embodies. There were a number of women’s platforms I could have published this piece on that all cater to women’s issues.

I chose Clarion Project because what I’m about to discuss is not just a niche women’s rights or feminist issue; it’s an issue of extremism.

Since 2018, I’ve broadened the subjects I cover from Islamist extremism, which wants to crush the West, to other types of extremism, including:

  • Neo-Nazis, who want to crush non-Eurocentric races
  • Antifa, which wants to crush White Supremacists (and seemingly a lot of others)
  • And now, feminists, who want to crush men

I can’t ignore that a serious branch of feminism has devolved into another form of extremism.

I can’t ignore that feminism, as it’s represented today, is both psychologically (and sometimes physically) violent.

Feminist extremism isn’t just contempt of men, it’s annihilation

The new feminist extremism didn’t pop out of a vacuum. It’s been here for a while, and it’s been building. It found footing over the arc of time across movements in the last century, including most recently when both well-meaning men and women celebrated phrases like, “The future is female.”

What space is there for men in a future paradigm where the notion of equality and freedom for one demographic is rooted in the annihilation of another? When society embraces phrases like this, they’re unconsciously drafting a blueprint that wipes out the reality of another gender altogether.

Just as I and many others have long advocated for the rights of emerging women — little girls — so too will I now speak about what kind of chaotic, gender-oppressive world we’re creating for our boys.

Half the time, depending on where you’re situated, you’re not even allowed to talk about gender anymore. But let’s talk about gender anyway — briefly.

Much of today’s feminism has abandoned the inherent nature of the feminine. Feminist extremism, specifically, has taken the strengths of what it means to be a woman — our ability to connect, create community, our intuition, our ability to nurture  — and distorted it.

The best way to summarize the new feminist extremism is something I overheard today by a liberal woman who described this type of feminism as a “Hulk Smash.” I couldn’t have said it better.

And this brings me to Mona Eltahawy.

Mona is not some flaming-haired goddess of women’s rights. She is brutality embodied

In December 2019, Vice News featured an article titled, “Mona Eltahawy Would Like You to Fuck Right Off With Your Civility Politics.” The subheading quoting Mona, read, “I refuse to allow those who don’t recognize my full humanity to expect politeness of me.”

OK, we’ve heard this before from folks like Linda Sarsour, who happily dehumanizes Israelis in order to champion Palestinians. This is supremacy; a theme that keeps popping up when one group demands a space at the expense of another.

Yet, the opposite of the opposite is still a mirror reflection of the original — meaning, hyper-aggression, rage and hostility toward men (or one’s ideological opponents) is no different than the brutality shown to women throughout history.

True power rests in creating a new paradigm, not just a foil of a broken, old one. True leadership is inclusivity, creating community and  truth … but also grace. These are inherent female strengths, and yet none of these are characteristics of extreme feminists.

Flipping someone off is neither powerful, nor is it leadership.

As much as I’ve tried to ignore all this, I finally couldn’t. Recently I saw Mona’s brand of feminist extremism featured on Fuuse, a publication belonging to Deeyah Khan.

Deeyah has produced documentaries reaching out to white supremacists and neo-Nazis, so clearly she understands extremism. And that is exactly why it’s so baffling to see Fuuse  — an Emmy-winning and twice BAFTA-nominated media company — glorify another form of extremism.

If we’re going to be leaders in preventing or countering extremism, we need to be able to spot patterns.

The world is rapidly evolving, and it’s not going to spell things out for us

The extremism of tomorrow is not necessarily going to be the neatly packaged extremism of yesterday. It is our duty to spot the patterns and connect the dots, to recognize there is an undeniable new form of extremism rooted in gender identities.

Extremism is often rooted in trauma, and feminist extremism is no different. Mona admitted it herself when in her Vice interview above, she shares, “I always say I was traumatized into feminism.”

As we see with Islamists, neo-Nazis, Antifa  members and other extremists, rather than work through their traumas, these people attach themselves to an ideology, often gain platforms and tend to scream louder than everyone else in the room.

Given that in our current media climate the loudest voices get heard, it’s no surprise that the most psychologically violent, hyper-dominant personalities are framed as icons.

We can do better. We need to do better. I don’t expect Mona to change, but we need to get better at seeing what we’re looking at.

 

RELATED STORIES

Linda Sarsour Uses Nazi Tactics to Dehumanize Israelis

Mona Eltahawy Has An Interesting Definition of Free Expression

Feminism, Hijab and Hypocrisy

 

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Shireen Qudosi

Shireen Qudosi is Clarion Project's National Correspondent.

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