Toronto - Started as a lark, #DearSister was launched on Sunday by an Egyptian-American journalist as a platform for Muslim women and girls to share their frustrations over well-intentioned but often patronizing male advice, according to the BBC.
Toronto – Started as a lark, #DearSister was launched on Sunday by an Egyptian-American journalist as a platform for Muslim women and girls to share their frustrations over well-intentioned but often patronizing male advice, according to the BBC.
Your email notification goes off and what do you find? Well, if you are a Muslim woman or girl you have found your fair share of well-intended but condescending messages from men, explaining why your points of view need re-navigating.
It was one such email that Egyptian-American journalist, Mona Eltahawy found waiting for her on Sunday. It wasn’t the worst such message she’s received and she’s quite certain it won’t be her last. Still, this one rankled her so much that she found herself, half jokingly, rallying other Muslim women to share their own frustrations over unwanted and unneeded male advice.
— hibizzle (@HibaNomem) March 5, 2017
Thus was #DearSister born and it instantly struck a nerve. In no time at all the hashtag had been shared more than 18,000 times. There was no shortage of Muslim women with examples of unsolicited counsel from loved ones and total strangers. Every message had the salutation “Dear Sister…,” indicating an inherent respect the women found difficult to find in the messages being delivered.
#DearSister I will date however many women I can get my hands on until I decide I’ve had enough. Then I need an untouched and pious woman.
— N?r (@southiraqi) March 5, 2017
Asked about the scale of the reaction to her hashtag, Eltahawy said, “I think what happened was other women looked and thought, it is not just me.” Author of Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution,Eltahawy is loving the spirit her impromptu campaign has generated. “I love the ferocity and energy. It was not saying boo-hoo [I’m a victim], it was exposing the men.”
To the men who have responded with pleas to stop making them look bad, she answers that it is not the women who are making them look bad, “You make you look bad.”
#DearSister “It breaks my heart whenever I see your hair exposed. I think of the sins you carry every time a man looks at you”. -2001
— Rasha Al Aqeedi (@RashaAlAqeedi) March 5, 2017
One thing Eltahawy does want to stress is that this campaign isn’t about a problem with Islam. It is, for her and the majority of the women who have shared their experiences, a cultural issue. It is her hope that #DearSister will empower more Muslim women and young girls to come forward and politely but firmly refuse the crumbs on offer by the men in their lives. “I don’t want the crumbs,” she says. “I want the cake.”
Asked what she sees ahead for the hashtag, Eltahawy is contemplating collating the responses into a book. But for her, the most important result is “that #DearSister is a platform for Muslim women and girls- somewhere to get the space to speak, and everyone must listen.”
#DearSister, why can’t you try harder to emulate Khadija and Aisha except for the part where they are strong, independent, outspoken women?
— Nxjeehah Hamid (@thatmuhajababe) March 6, 2017