I was on my treadmill exercising and watching Nicki Minaj “killing it” in one of her concerts when I saw a notification on my Facebook stating that Tunisian President Kais Saied had just nominated Ms. Najla Bouden as the new Head of Government. This would make her the first to hold such a high position in Tunisia as well as the first in the Arab world. I was excited for only a few seconds. As a Tunisian woman and a feminist who founded the association “Aswat Nisaa” to enhance women’s political participation and advocate for gender sensitive public policies, this should have been a celebratory moment! But it wasn’t for me. Why—I asked myself—am I being a joy-killer here? Am I being a “bad feminist ”?
I do not engage men in conversations on gender equality, especially cis, straight men. The last time I did, I was called a ‘feminazi’ for shaming a man who unabashedly invalidated a woman’s feelings toward her own menstruation. I did not understand how a man could draw such far-fetched conclusions without even having a vagina, let alone bleeding from it. Moreover, what would entitle him to invalidate her experiences and opinions?
The 2019 presidential campaign began on Monday, September 2, 2019. Between those who have it, those who want to have it, and those who are preventedfrom having it, the fight over power has just started. Like every election, candidates are playing the « Tunisian woman » card and pitting us, Tunisian women, against each other, instrumentalizing the question of equality. Pretending to be the liberators or protectors of the “Tunisian woman” isa tradition which stems from a long history of State-feminism that was key throughout many phases of Tunisian history. Now, however, such discourse is void. We thought that Tunisian women killed the father in 2011 and should not seek to replace him with a new one, and that no candidate should pretend to father us. The time for nostalgia is over.
This article is co-authored by Samah Krichah and Ikram Ben Said.
« Not for fame, not for nikah, not for fun », once tweeted a female ISIS member called Shams . Women have long been valued fighters in liberation movements and other politically motivated armed guerilla warfares, but recently a new troubling form of women’s political militantism has emerged and raises a serious question: Why would women eagerly join a violent terrorist movement that is strongly patriarchal, misogynistic and moreover profoundly disregards their dignity as human beings? Understanding why women have joined ISIS is essential if we want to create effective prevention and reintegration programs.
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