By Rakia Clark
Meeting Mona Eltahawy for the first time is like a bolt of lightning. Bold, vibrant, bright red hair, tattoos on both forearms, big, big smile, the works. Sitting down for the first time to discuss what would become The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls, I was captivated by the powerful simplicity of the book’s central questions: What would happen if girls around the world were trained up to embrace the same qualities we encourage in boys? What if women around the world lived their lives with the same freedom men felt?
These are not difficult questions and yet they don’t get asked enough, much less implemented. Mona’s been asking these questions for years, of course, through her journalism and through her activism. But never have the questions felt as important as they do today.
In a moment when the rights of women worldwide are slowly being rolled back and the cultural markers of progress are being relitigated, The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls feels like a much-needed breath of fresh air. Mona’s advocacy for the tactical use of anger, attention, profanity, ambition, power, violence and lust feels provocative and daring, because she is unapologetic in her demands for equality. It becomes clear why she is one of the loudest, most followed voices on feminism today. She weaves in her personal experience as a woman of color and as a Muslim throughout. And I was particularly heartened to read stories of foreign activists whose struggles are often portrayed as distant or unrelated to Western feminism. They’re not as different as you think. Mona connects it all.
Both Mona and the book are fantastic. (This is not the only F word you’ll find associated with either!) The writing is lively, energetic and utterly compelling. There are passages where you will cheer. You will take out your highlighter. And you will share this book with women and men so that they, too, can feel what you feel after reading it: that, to paraphrase Mona, the book is not a roadmap to peace with patriarchy; rather, it is a Molotov cocktail to throw at it.
About the Author
Rakia Clark was former senior editor at Beacon Press and the editor of Mona Eltahawy’s The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls. Follow her on Twitter at @rakiathegreat.