When Arab Women Artists “Revisit The Harem”

Originally published here.  Where does parody end and self-exoticization begin? At what point does the Arab woman artist, stepping into the so-often imagined space of "The Harem" risk pandering to an audience that seems to have a never-ending appetite for remediations of Orientalist artwork? Lebanese photographer Rania Matar's wonderful and insightful A Girl in Her Room series (capturing teenage girls in their most sacred space, the bedroom) includes some photographs that are clearly posed to m … [Read more...]

Not All Designations Are Equal: Representing Women in the Arab Revolutions and Beyond

Two years ago, Mohammad Bouazizi’s self-immolation set an inferno across parts of the Middle East and North Africa, changing the course of the region’s assumed history. We know what happened and we know what has been happening since. Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, despite having removed the bodies of dictators, continue to struggle to maintain control over the next phase of revolution. Yemenis and Bahrainis, albeit generally absent from headlines, are still fighting against authoritarian and opp … [Read more...]

Is “Men Wanted” What Real Arab Women Need?

After 90 episodes, 'Men Wanted', the Syrian Arabic soap opera, has concluded its season for this year on Saudi-owned television channel MBC 4.For those who do not know 'Men Wanted,' the Venezuelan-style soap opera is adapted to an Arab environment, with its actions taking place in Dubai. 'Men Wanted' tells the story of Hala, an Egyptian lady married to Khaled, a successful businessman, with a son and a daughter. Hala owns a beauty salon, in which a number of ladies from different … [Read more...]

Saudi Cartoonist Hana Hajar Sketches a Path for Female Cartoonists

Hana Hajar doesn’t consider the work she does groundbreaking--to her, transforming her thoughts into satirical drawings is simply a means to express herself.But as Saudi Arabia’s sole prominent female cartoonist, Hajar is an undeniable trailblazer.She has worked since 2005 for the Saudi-based English language newspaper, Arab News, where her sketches challenge everything from the role of women in Saudi society, to the war in Iraq, to the on-again, off-again status of peace talks between the Is … [Read more...]

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Women’s Rights in Kuwait

It's been a busy month for the constitutional court in the tiny Gulf Arab nation of Kuwait. Earlier this week, Kuwait's highest court ruled that women now have the right to obtain a passport without the consent of their husbands and guardians. The ruling abrogated an article of a 1962 law that required women to gain their husband's signature on any passport application.The court, following complaints from thousands of women who have petitioned to change the law, finally ruled that the article … [Read more...]

A New “View” of Arab Women

This was written by Zehra Rizavi and originally published on AltMuslimah.An attractive Arab woman in her mid-30s, wearing a silver silk hijab and high-collared matching silver blouse, looks into the camera and says, “Recently, in Qatar there has been talk of providing sex education to the youth. Subjects [would] include dealing with sexual desires, homosexuality, relationship issues and sexual harassment.” The hostess then turns to the three women seated beside her and a candid discussion ens … [Read more...]

It’s time western media looked beyond the veil

This was written by Mohammed Ayish and originally published in The National.Most Arabs are resigned to being stereotyped by western media, but for Arab women the problem is particularly acute.I was invited to Doha in Qatar last week to present the Arab Women Media Strategy at a conference called East and West: Women in Media’s Eye. My assumption beforehand was that the event would be yet another platform to expose the misrepresentation of women in Arab media: and the discussions were indeed i … [Read more...]