The Brittle Paper’s Writer-Activist of the Year is Mona Eltahawy for her fearless and tireless resistance to patriarchal culture, politics, and power.
#MosqueMeToo. #IBeatMyAssaulter. #DearSister. These are just a few of the viral Twitter campaigns launched by Eltahawy to inspire countless women across the world to share their experiences in a world still dominated by patriarchal values. Over the past decade, Eltahawy has been unflinching in wielding her words to destroy all manifestations of patriarchy, be it at the level of the state, the street, or the home.
Eltahawy was born in Egypt. She embarked on a career in journalism upon graduating from the American University of Cairo, writing for a number of major global news sources. In 2012, she published an article in Foreign Policy, “Why Do They Hate Us?,” which catalyzed debate about misogyny in the Arab world. That article subsequently became Eltahawy’s first book, Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution (2015), cementing her status as a feminist icon. Her numerous honors include the 2014 Women’s Media Center Speaking Truth to Power Award and the Global Vanguard Award, which was presented at the 2020 Women’s March in D.C.
“Fierce” is a word that feels apt, yet insufficient, to describe Eltahawy’s particular approach toward dismantling patriarchal structures and practices. Her second book, The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls, encapsulates her defiance of “polite feminism” — being civil, for her, will get feminists nowhere. While we wait with impatience for her third book, currently titled BuzzKiller: A Memoir in Hair Revolution, we’ll be reading her fiery newsletter Feminist Giant on the global resistance of patriarchal systems.
See Full List of the 2020 Brittle Paper Person of the Year