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This brings Eltahawy to one of her central points, which is that the Middle Eastern world is obsessed with virginity: "Why do those men hate us?They hate us because they need us, they fear us, they understand how much control it takes to keep us in line, to keep us good girls with our hymens intact…" Men, even "moderates," view the hymen as the source of insatiable sexual appetite that leads women into sin and disrepute, she argues.In the wake of the Arab Spring, she called for a shift in focus from political leaders who oppress their citizens to the men who oppress women in the streets and at home.Her words prompted angry responses from many on the Left who are loath to blame one religion or culture for this miserable state of affairs. The book more thoroughly addresses the reality of women’s lives in the Muslim world and advocates for a sexual revolution there.Because of this, women are told they must cover up their bodies in order to help men control themselves.Eltahawy points to religion as part of the problem with women’s rights in the Middle East because of the role that it plays in maintaining the patriarchy.Combining her own experiences growing up in Egypt with examples of injustices across numerous countries in the region, Eltahawy paints a picture of a world that is dangerous and unjust for women, and covers issues such as veiling, virginity, rape, harassment, domestic abuse, and equal representation before the law. Her shock and horror led her to believe that if she covered herself she would be protected from sexual harassment.
Perhaps most upsetting is the prevalence of rape victims who are persuaded to marry their rapist.
She later compares teaching in Oklahoma to being in the Middle East where "a similar mix of religion and conservative politics prevailed." Eltahawy is torn between pointing to the unique problems in the region and arguing that that they are no worse than limiting access to abortion or to purity balls and promise rings. At one moment Eltahawy will point to Islam specifically, while at others she claims that Muslims, Christians and atheists all treat women abhorrently in the Middle East, seeming to make an argument that the fault lies with the culture at large, not the religion.