GENDER FRONT LINES
How is gender related to revolution? What is the connection between gender and women or, for that matter, between gender and women and men? These questions are posed in dramatic fashion by the Arab revolts, as well as other mass movements, in the second decade of the twenty-first century. As the fall 2013 issue of Middle East Report details, gender is at the front lines of the region’s battles for political participation and social justice.
In her incisive primer, Norma Claire Moruzzi lays out three case studies—one from Tunisia and two from Egypt—to demonstrate that patriarchal authority may assume different guises in dictatorships and countries making a transition away from autocratic rule. Such “tradition” can be comforting for some during the uncertainty of the transition, but because it is not democratic, patriarchy also tends to fuel the struggle for equal citizenship.
Political scientists Mervat Hatem and Vickie Langohr look at how competing forces in Egypt have deployed ideas about gender in service of political goals. Hatem shows the continuity between the “state feminism” of the Mubarak regime and the gender discourses of the Muslim Brothers and the post-coup regime. Langohr presents her in-depth research on the efforts of revolutionary activists to stop sexual assault in Tahrir Square and other public spaces.
Rebecca Joubin decodes the gendered messages of the 2013 crop of Ramadan television serials in Syria. Amid war and chaos, the portrayal of masculinity is shot through with political tension.
Themes of gender and generation also figured heavily in the early summer upheavals in Turkey. Marcie J. Patton examines the central role of millennials—people aged 15-30—in the Occupy Gezi movement. Neslihan Sen focuses on the most famous gendered icon of the Gezi protests, “the woman in the red dress” who was photographed being tear-gassed in the park.
Also featured: Dan Connell reports on the rerouted trafficking in Eritrean refugees; MERIP remembers the great journalist Graham Usher; and more.
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Middle East Report is published by the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), a progressive, independent organization based in Washington, DC. Since 1971 MERIP has provided critical analysis of the Middle East, focusing on political economy, popular struggles, and the implications of US and international policy for the region.