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...]

Worth Reading: The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf

After our review of Boy vs. Girl, a couple readers asked for MMW’s thoughts on The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf.  Having really enjoyed the book when I read it last summer, I was happy to oblige! Beware: minor spoiler alerts!Written by Mohja Kahf, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf tells the story of Khadra Shamy, a Syrian-American woman returning to her hometown of Indianapolis for the first time in several years.  Most of the novel looks back to her childhood and early adulthood during the 1970s … [Read more...]

Be Real About Muslim Women

This was written by Muse and originally appeared at her blog Between Hope & Fear.It's joyful to be a Muslim woman. So says Mohja Kahf. I agree with the sentiment and the substance of pretty much everything she wrote here, but her style bothers me. This is nothing new - I wrote about her earlier as well. But now I want to write out my thoughts on this article.Starting with the title: “Spare Me the Lecture on Muslim Women.” The article immediately takes on a defensive tone and is off … [Read more...]

Talking Back – Mohja Kahf’s Response to “The Sermon”

The Washington Post ran an op-ed on Sunday by Mohja Kahf, author of The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf. Entitled "Spare Me the Sermon on Muslim Women" Kahf responds to those who insist that the Muslim woman is oppressed, repressed, monolithic, brainwashed, and worthy of pity. Using brilliant language, which creates colourful pictures in the readers' minds, Kahf explains the role of scarves in her life as a source of happiness. She then continues to explain how the various religious rituals in which … [Read more...]