“Their Patriarchy” is Worse

A few years ago I wrote a piece on the media coverage of domestic violence issues in Spain and Latin America, and how Islam and the “other’s” culture are depicted as “worse.” The issue continues to be relevant today. A recent article in Reforma, a Mexican newspaper, reports on the incidence of “international romances” between Mexican women and Middle Eastern men. The story results from concerns arising from the Ministry of International Relations (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores), which has m … [Read more...]

Book Review – Obama and the Middle East: The End of America’s Moment?

In Obama and the Middle East: The End of American’s Moment?, a new book by one of the foremost scholars on Middle East politics, Fawaz A. Gerges looks at America's progress (or lack thereof) in the Middle East.  Paying special attention to President Obama's policies in the region, Gerges argues that the United States is losing influence in the Middle East and that President Obama's strategy for the region merely resembles those of past administrations.  Rising world multipolarity and the rev … [Read more...]

Fashion Designers, How Not to Study Gender, and More on Iran’s Women Ninjas

An eclectic round-up of some articles of interest elsewhere on the internet:A Muslim participant on Project Runway Philippines was recently eliminated.  MMW reader Sumaya writes that, "Just as quickly as I found out about the first Muslimah to be on Project Runway in the third season of Project Runway Phillipines, sadly I found out she was recently eliminated in the last rounds. Fatima Guerrero, a 21-year-old fashion student from Nueva Ecija,is still awesome in my books."  From G … [Read more...]

Book Review: Isobel Coleman’s Paradise Beneath Her Feet

Isobel Coleman’s recently-released Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East presents a case-study of sorts, highlighting the work of Muslim women who are engaged in combating patriarchal culture as a means to change societal norms and achieve empowerment.A large part of Coleman’s argument emphasizes the role of Islamic Feminism, where a feminist lens is applied to orthodox Islamic interpretations, using a religious framework to fight patriarchal customs that sub … [Read more...]

Babes in Toyland: Stratton’s Fantastick Muhajababes

When I first saw the book Muhajababes by Allegra Stratton in a bookshop in Beirut, I was intrigued enough to buy it. The cover boldly claims to have found, "the new Middle East--cool, sexy and devout". I happily forked out the $14.On closer inspection however, the cover of the book is quite problematic (featured left). It features a woman with hot red lips in a black headscarf. The rest of her face has been blanked out, spelling only one thing: generalization. An alternate book cover (pictured … [Read more...]

Alo Again: News Lifestyle Magazine is More of the Same

Last summer saw the launch of ALO Hayati, “America’s Top Middle Eastern Lifestyle Magazine.” Thanks to a gracious donor, I finally got my hands on a copy of the July 2008 issue.All lifestyle magazines have an aspirational feel to them, and this one was no different. Chock full of advertisements for Dubai hotels and Swiss watches, ALO wasn’t particularly different than any other lifestyle magazine. Considering the economic situation of magazines, it doesn’t seem like an incredibly auspicious tim … [Read more...]

Tin Women: Saatchi Gallery’s Newest Installation

The Saatchi Gallery’s latest exhibition Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East has received considerable media attention. Despite the overused term, the art is refreshingly original, featuring 19 artists, most of them in their twenties and thirties, from Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria and Algeria.Their art is raw, tender, vicious and vile. Think the Middle East is messed up? Their art is unapologetic, featuring images of homosexual naked Muslim men and Iranian prostitutes and t … [Read more...]