What We Are Reading This Week | A Radical Gospel for Feminist Revolutionaries
March 09, 2020
It’s week two of women’s history month, and we are celebrating angry feminists!
Angry feminists, militant feminists, radical feminists, fire and brimstone feminists, call them what you will. But they are rhetorical warriors. They are writers, thinkers, activists who rudely awaken us from our political slumber to remind us that dismantling the patriarchy is more urgent than ever before.
“I wrote this book with enough rage to fuel a rocket” is the opening line of Egyptian writer and activist Mona Elthahaw’s Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls. She is not exaggerating. Seven Necessary Sins is an angry book seeking to make you an angry reader. The rage is infectious!
Eltahawy was sexually assaulted in a mosque when she was a teenager. With this book, she digs deep into the culture of violence that makes such an awful deed possible in the first place.
The book uses the religious idea of “sin” for its own radical purposes. The famous seven deadly sins in the bible become “the seven necessary sins” in “the gospel according to Mona”—a gospel that teaches girls how to harness “anger, attention, profanity, ambition, power, violence, and lust” towards the destruction of the patriarchy. Each of the 7 chapters of the book addresses each sin.
Seven Necessary Sins is the rallying war cry we’ve been waiting for. The book begins with the premise that patriarchy is an inherently violent power. We can’t just sit around waiting for “patriarchy to self-correct.” We have to do something and what we do has to be commensurate with the deadly force of patriarchy. Instead of teaching girls to be self-effacing, teach them to be feared by patriarchy.
Eltahawy’s militaristic rhetoric is actually something we’ve never really seen a lot in African feminist discourse. Her book is clear proof that African women are talking about feminism differently. They are creating a new language to convey the diversity of their experiences and the global reach of the vision.
There is a slight chance that if you liked Chimamanda Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists, you might find Seven Necessary Sins a little jarring. But that’s the point! African feminism is not a monolith. The voices are diverse. The approaches are legion.
By the book here and start reading with us!