In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, journalist and activist Mona Eltahawy takes a minute to examine feminism, ambition, the state of women’s rights in the Middle East, and the role models who inspire her work.
What makes someone a feminist?
To be a feminist is to believe in and to fight for the dismantling of patriarchy. And by patriarchy I do not mean men, I mean systems and institutions that privilege male dominance.
How can women and girls practice ambition?
Ambition in my definition of feminism is being more than. It's not about being wealthy, it's not about being a CEO, it's not about having a corner office. It's about being more than what patriarchy allows us to be, to want, or to do.
Have women's rights improved in the Middle East?
I think women's rights across the world are in great danger. I wrote the Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls about patriarchy globally, and this is a time of dire danger to women's rights across the world, whether it's in the United States, Brazil, or in Egypt.
Who are your role models?
Three of my role models that I often like to quote from are veteran Egyptian feminist Nawal El Saadawi, Moroccan sociologist, who since passed, Fatema Mernissi. And also, another feminist who passed away a long time ago, the bisexual black poet, and intellectual, and activist June Jordan, whose words are tattooed on my forearm.