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‘Bottle-feeding rage to every girl’

Updated on: 20 August,2023 07:08 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Meenakshi Shedde |

You get the picture: our Indian trolls are so python lazy, they barely manage two-three of this rich variety of copy paste responses

‘Bottle-feeding rage to every girl’

Illustration/Uday Mohite

Meenakshi SheddeI wrote this book with enough rage to fuel a rocket,” Mona Eltahawy begins her stunning, compelling  and radical book, The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls (Tramp Press, Ireland, Rs 1,076 paperback). I knew I had to write it while I was still high on the glory of beating up a man who had sexually assaulted me. Who was this woman I had become, who looks men in the eye, seizing their gaze with my fury, until their fear tells me they understand not to fuck with me? I wanted to figure her out. For years I had been shedding shame and gaining fury.” She adds, “I want to bottle feed rage to every baby girl.” Yes, please! Starting off with how she beat up a man who tried to grope her at 50 in a Montreal club, she writes about how women and girls need to defy, disrupt and destroy the patriarchy. What would the world look like, “if girls were taught that they were volcanoes that could and should erupt to disrupt patriarchy… Patriarchy has often thrown women crumbs in return for a limited form of power… we must refuse those crumbs. We must bake our own cake,” she writes.

Mona Eltahawy is the Egyptian American Muslim feminist, journalist, author and activist; her earlier book Headscarves & Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution caused a furore, and she has contributed to the anthology This Arab is Queer. Active on social media, she puts out the superb Feminist Giant newsletter. When she was just 15 and in full hijab, she was sexually assaulted twice in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Islam’s holiest site, as she performed Haj, the Muslim pilgrimage. She was able to talk about it on TV about 30 years later, and started a #MosqueMeToo Twitter thread that was retweeted and liked thousands of times worldwide. As soon as she started getting attention, the predictable trolls started their gaslighting and whiny purana LP record, which Eltahawy describes as: ‘Things You Will Hear When You Say You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted.’ Observe: *You are too ugly to be sexually assaulted/* You are being paid to say this/ * You just want to be famous/ * You just want attention/ * You want to destroy Islam/ * You want to make Muslim men look bad/ * You are a whore/ * You imagined it;  it was crowded/ * Why didn’t you report it?/ * You waited all that time. Why? / * What do you expect? Sexual assault happens everywhere./ * Why aren’t you talking about sexual assault in New Zealand/ * You should have yelled and made a fuss. You get the picture: our Indian trolls are so python lazy, they barely manage two-three of this rich variety of copy paste responses.

Also read: Lives of Adi Shankaracharya

In 2011, after the Egyptian Revolution overthrew dictator Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian military subjected 17 female activists to “virginity tests”, a form of sexual assault. When Eltahawy participated in protests against the police and army near Tahrir Square, Egyptian riot police beat her up, broke her left arm and right hand, sexually assaulted her and threatened her with gang rape. She was detained for 12 hours, and needed surgery, and had a cast on each arm for three months. So her rage has been regularly refuelled, like for most women, you might say. She has sublimated some of that rage into thoughtful pointers for women and girls to destroy the patriarchy. For this, she lists seven necessary “sins” for women and girls: anger, attention, profanity, ambition, power, violence and lust. She flicks off Twitter trolls with a “Fuck off, kitten”. “Feminism should terrify the patriarchy,” she writes, “It is the only way to combat a patriarchy that is systemic… This is self-defence. This is putting patriarchy on notice that we will fight back.” I’m rolling back my sleeves already.

Meenakshi Shedde is India and South Asia Delegate to the Berlin International Film Festival, National Award-winning critic, curator to festivals worldwide and journalist. 
Reach her at

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