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The Sex Issue: FP’s Phenomenal Coverage of Women & the Uproar It’s Causing

Everybody should be talking about this. The future of the Middle East turns on it, as does the entire globe.

If you don’t know anything about foreign policy, this is your primer. It sets the 21st century stage & will give you an idea of the real challenges ahead and how the U.S. must continue to expand the opportunities of women if we’re ever going to reverse poverty, and begin to tackle the scurge of war.

Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues under Secy. Clinton, the first role of its kind, has a classic piece. Seriously, Guys: Why Women Are a Foreign Policy Issue,” reads like Secy. Clinton’s platform for U.S. diplomacy, which is part of the Hillary Effect, in a lecture that the “guys” need.

The most pressing global problems simply won’t be solved without the participation of women. Seriously, guys.

[...] This is not just about the economy, though; it’s also about global security. In the 1990s, nearly half of all peace agreements failed within the first five years, according to the Human Security Report Project. These deals are generally struck by a small number of male military and political leaders shielded from war’s impact on daily life. Women, meanwhile, endure much of the residual violence and poverty caused by armed conflicts, and they bear much of the burden of rebuilding families and communities. They are often excluded, however, from both the negotiating table and the governments charged with sustaining peace. Less than 8 percent of the hundreds of peace treaties signed in the last 20 years were negotiated by delegations that included women, and according to the World Economic Forum, women hold less than 20 percent of all national decision-making positions.

One note about Verveer and trying to cover her work… A couple of years ago, in the middle of writing my book, I made a herculean effort to make a trip with Ambassador Verveer on one of her excursions abroad. Contacting the State Dept. innumerable times, never getting a definitive time for a trip, while running into a hamster wheel of assistants and non-ending non-answers, however politely they were pushing me off, I’d had enough. They won. I gave up. I’m fairly certain that if I wrote for the New York Times or even Foreign Policy this would not have happened. I was willing to travel on my own nickel, but still couldn’t get it booked. And it’s not like certain people don’t know who I am over at the State Dept.

Mona Eltahawy reminds America that the real war on women is in the Middle East.

Eltahawy’s writing for Foreign Policy’s “The Sex Issue” spectacular is causing a typing explosion on Twitter. From Shadi Hamid this morning, who is from Brookings:

How does @monaeltahawy explain the fact that the majority of Egyptian women voted for parties that don’t believe in gender equality?

I cover women around the world in my book in the chapter titled “Is Freedom Just for Women?” It’s a subject that more Americans need to engage. The freedom of women in countries around the world directly impacts U.S. aid and involvement. It’s important to note that one of the issues most important, access to reproductive services, is something the Republican party would strip from the budget, because of their phobia of contraception and simple family planning, which is so desperately needed around the world.

From Mona’s piece titled “Why Do They Hate Us?”

Foreign Policy's Sex Issue Centerfold

But let’s put aside what the United States does or doesn’t do to women. Name me an Arab country, and I’ll recite a litany of abuses fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend. When more than 90 percent of ever-married women in Egypt — including my mother and all but one of her six sisters — have had their genitals cut in the name of modesty, then surely we must all blaspheme. When Egyptian women are subjected to humiliating “virginity tests” merely for speaking out, it’s no time for silence. When an article in the Egyptian criminal code says that if a woman has been beaten by her husband “with good intentions” no punitive damages can be obtained, then to hell with political correctness. And what, pray tell, are “good intentions”? They are legally deemed to include any beating that is “not severe” or “directed at the face.” What all this means is that when it comes to the status of women in the Middle East, it’s not better than you think. It’s much, much worse. Even after these “revolutions,” all is more or less considered well with the world as long as women are covered up, anchored to the home, denied the simple mobility of getting into their own cars, forced to get permission from men to travel, and unable to marry without a male guardian’s blessing — or divorce either.

Not a single Arab country ranks in the top 100 in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, putting the region as a whole solidly at the planet’s rock bottom.

What a sumptuous dish Foreign Policy has laid out on this one.

The Aytollah Under the Bedsheets, By Karim Sadjadpour

The Startling Plight of China’s Leftover Ladies, By Christina Larson

The 25 Most Powerful Women You’ve Never Heard Of

The Bedroom State, By Joshua E. Keating (Coming if Republicans have their way.)

Fill in the Blanks, The Sex Edition

…and much more.

There's no shortage of data showing that men rule the political world: Women make up just 20 percent of the world's parliaments and constitute about 17 percent of cabinet positions. Why aren't there more women leaders, and is there any hope of change? We asked top female leaders around the world to tell us about the worst cases of sexism in politics, the biggest obstacles for aspiring female politicians, and the best ways to bring more women to the negotiating table. Presidents and vice presidents, cabinet secretaries and members of Congress answered our call -- and here's what they told us.



This column has been updated.

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2 Responses to The Sex Issue: FP’s Phenomenal Coverage of Women & the Uproar It’s Causing

  1. Joyce Arnold April 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    “Everybody should be talking about this.”

    Agreed. And at least it is getting some attention. NPR’s Morniing Edition included an interview with Eltahawy today.

  2. Cujo359 April 24, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    a litany of abuses fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend.

    Case in point here. I’m not familiar with Feminist Wire, but they haven’t covered themselves in glory here. If there’s one thing I’ve been reminded of in the discussions here on Trayvon Martin, it’s that there are plenty of progressives who are willing to shout “racist” anytime someone voices a negative opinion of someone in or something done by people in another ethnic group. What they need to learn is that sometimes it really is about what people talking about, not some reluctance to face their inner racists.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong