The Middle East Feminist Revolution

Here is an op-ed by Naomi Wolf on Al Jazeera English, which I found particularly poignant and moving on a Sunday morning. I thought both Mariam and Krista would be interested, but I’m sure others will be too. I found it to be a keen feminist analysis debunking many of the Western stereotypes of Muslim women as passive and submissive, bringing their active role in the recent protests to the fore.

Below is an excerpt of Wolf’s perspective on the role of Facebook, women’s social relations and communication norms, and questions of leadership.

Projection of power

In such contexts – with a stage, a spotlight, and a spokesperson – women often shy away from leadership roles. But social media, through the very nature of the technology, have changed what leadership looks and feels like today. Facebook mimics the way many women choose to experience social reality, with connections between people just as important as individual dominance or control, if not more so.

You can be a powerful leader on Facebook just by creating a really big “us”. Or you can stay the same size, conceptually, as everyone else on your page – you don’t have to assert your dominance or authority. The structure of Facebook’s interface creates what brick-and-mortar institutions – despite 30 years of feminist pressure – have failed to provide: a context in which women’s ability to forge a powerful “us” and engage in a leadership of service can advance the cause of freedom and justice worldwide.

Of course, Facebook cannot reduce the risks of protest. But, however violent the immediate future in the Middle East may be, the historical record of what happens when educated women participate in freedom movements suggests that those in the region who would like to maintain iron-fisted rule are finished.

Read on here.

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