Where Are The Women Of The Arab Spring?
The Arab Spring has been both an inspiration and a disappointment. Women are still unwelcome at protests, brutally assaulted when they have the courage to come out, and will certainly be kept out of the halls of power even if these movements succeed (A few token female members of puppet parliaments in Arab countries don't change this fact). As a result, the Arab world will likely remain a backward and unfree domain.
Even when freedom is on the lips of millions and demonstrators need every able body on the street that they can get, men will not let women demonstrate publicly alongside them against the dictators .
Observe with your own eyes, a comparison of how political protest happens around the world. Notice the difference.
Here is a protest in New York City on Wall Street. Naturally, women are present - not to mention, representatives from the full range of America's ethnic diversity.
Next up, we have a protest in London, England. This time, we see a relatively chaotic, potentially violent scene. Yet again, women are just as defiant as their male counterparts.
Here is Ukraine during the Orange revolution in 2004. Men, women and children came out to overthrow one of the last vestigial regimes from the Cold War.
Of course, it's not just in the "West" where women are front and center alongside the men. Here is a protest in the Philipines over oil prices:
Here's a protest in Vietnam against Chinese intentions in the South China Sea. See the women marching along, some holding protest signs.
In Zimbabwe, women march for peace, defying local riot police who are about to descend upon them.
Now, on to the countries of the Arab Spring. Here we have Egypt, during the height of the chaotic protests against Mubarak. Are there any women in this country?
Yemen. Where men are men and women are... missing.
In Syria, the women have chosen to stay home. That does seem like the more logical course of action in a country where the dictator has no compunction about raking down protesters with snipers and machine guns. But it is unclear whether (as in Egypt) it is only the regime that women need to worry about.
Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began. Crowds of angry men. Shouting men. Defiant men.
There is video coverage of protests from the Arab Spring where some women are present, typically covered up by burqas. Is this much of an improvement? Indeed, one could hardly ask for a more clear example of women internalizing - and even wanting to show off - their acceptance of male dominance. These women know their place; hence, they are permitted to protest.
But wait! Here's a charming scene. Two Syrian men and two young Syrian girls, stomping on the Russian and Chinese flags to show their disgust for these countries' support for the Syrian regime. Perhaps the next generation of women in the Middle East will lead where their mothers were made to fear to tread?
Perhaps not. The protest takes place in New York.
Jonathon Narvey is the Editor of The Propagandist