Perhaps we can forgive Mona Eltahawy the idiocy of her ideas: she has been marinated in ideologically-based resentment, narcissism, and grandiosity for so long that it’s a wonder she can function at all. Last week, the Egyptian-American feminist activist told CBC Radio listeners about her new book, The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls, in which she urges girls and women to pursue “justifiable violence” against men, claiming that being civil and polite “should no longer be options.” The latter edict seems a tad dictatorial, but what else would you expect from a woman so simultaneously naive and vengeful that she believes the slaughter of men would bring about a better world?
We also learn in the article accompanying the interview that Eltahawy coined the hashtag #BeatMy Assaulter, reportedly “after a man in a Montreal nightclub groped her, and she proceeded to beat him up.” She wants all would-be gropers (of the male variety, that is—female gropers can have at it) to fear beatings from the righteous sisterhood.
Defending her espousal of violence, Eltahawy said that while she knew the recommendation was “highly controversial,” she wants women and girls to begin thinking seriously about radical solutions to patriarchy: “I ask people to imagine—now I’m using this word imagine, and I’m underlining it three times—a scenario in which we kill a certain number of men ever week. How many men must we kill until patriarchy sits across the table from us and says, “Ok, stop. What must we do, so that you can stop this culling?”
It seems that she is not exactly recommending the outright murder of men—merely something assertive and edgy that would put “patriarchy” on notice. A glance at Mona’s pouchy, fat-laden frame does not inspire conviction that men will tremble in her presence, but perhaps she sees herself as the ideas general leading an army of lean, raging women.
So let’s put aside the very large question mark over Mona’s boast about her physical prowess in beating the nightclub groper. Her ideas about overthrowing the patriarchy are actually even weaker.
What her simplistic and blood-thirsty fantasy does not acknowledge—and which it is even likely that Mona, deep in her feminist delusions, doesn’t know—is that the vast majority of acts of violence in North America are already committed against men. Moreover, bystanders are far less likely to intervene when a man is being abused in public than when a woman is. Violence against men tends to produce a collective shrug of the patriarchy; in fact, one has to note that it’s a strange “patriarchy” (which Mona seems to define as a conscious plot by men working together to oppress women for pleasure and profit) that is content to allow its “side” to suffer and die, sometimes even explicitly in order to save the lives of the supposed “enemy,” women.
(If we wanted to take this argument further, we could also note that it’s a strange patriarchy in which women earn more college degrees than men do, have better health outcomes, commit suicide at a far lower rate, have lower rates of homelessness, have FAR lower rates of prison incarceration and work-related deaths, and are consistently favored over men by the courts. But those are not matters that Eltahawy seems to consider at all, so perhaps we cannot hold her responsible for them.)
But Mona’s recommendation in favor of women’s “justifiable violence” also rests on the unforgiveable assumption that women do not already commit significant violence. In this delusion, of course, she is far from alone, though one would have hoped that before expressing herself with such vehemence, she might have done some research. Women have shown themselves fully capable of extreme violence in the domestic sphere that feminists say is most unsafe for women and girls, playing an equal role in making it so: women are the majority killers and physical abusers of children, and are equally represented in sibling, elder, and intimate partner violence. For a succinct summation of the evidence, see Cathy Young’s article here.
Alas, it becomes near-impossible to forgive Mona Eltahawy her whacky theories when we consider not how bold and unconventional, but actually how tired and achingly familiar her hateful rhetoric is: it’s been there in feminism from the beginning of the Second Wave, at least as far back as the 1968 call to violence of the crazed Valerie Solanas, much-loved feminist icon, who published her SCUM Manifesto advocating the total elimination of the male sex, in the same year that she attempted to murder Andy Warhol and two other men who had caused her no harm. Solanas had no compelling reason for her violence but was still championed by feminists as an important advocate for women’s rights. She served three years in prison, some in a psychiatric institution, having been found to be suffering from mental illness, after which she continued to harass and frighten poor Warhol. Perhaps Mona Eltahawy is in the grip of a similar malady. Nothing else could justify the enormous ignorance, self-aggrandizement, and moral retardation of her feminist pronouncements.