Growing up in the UK with Muslim background was always something Mona Eltahawy never took too much notice of. However, at age 15 when her family relocated to Saudi Arabia she fully understood what it is like to grow up as a Muslim woman. The shock of seeing her highly-educated mother being banned from driving or going out without a male companion spurred Eltahawy to seek comfort in the writings of Muslim feminists.
“I always say now that to be a female in Saudi Arabia, a girl or a woman, you basically have two options: to lose your mind or become a feminist,” she says. “And at first I did lose my mind because I fell into a deep depression. But then I was saved by feminism so it worked out I guess. It made me the woman I am.”
Now a journalist and writer she uses her literary voice to make waves within the Muslim community. In her new book which features a collection of essays, Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle east Needs a Sexual Revolution, Eltahawy talks about the brutal attacks against women (including herself) during the Arab Spring of 2011 and many more injustices. She believes that these writings not only allow women to overcome fear and shed the shame, but also break down the barriers so that women to come can have a voice.