ASK Musings

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December 2021



The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls by Mona Eltahawy

Written by , Posted in Feminism, Reviews

Five Stars

Best for:
Women. People with women in their lives. Feminists.

In a nutshell:
Author and activist Eltahawy makes the case for the sins women should embrace as we seek to destroy the patriarch.

Worth quoting:
“I don’t want to be protected. I want to be free.”

“I refuse to be civil with someone who refuses to acknowledge my humanity fully.”

“But who indoctrinated those Republican white women? Who taught them to submit to patriarchy? Those are questions often reserved for Muslima women, but I demand we ask them now of white women – whose votes uphold the benefits of whiteness but hurt the rest of us.”

Why I chose it:
I was looking for a little motivation, and I wanted to read some quality, bad-ass writing.

What a perfect book to reach my Cannonball Read goal on: a call to action written by a queer woman of color. Fuck yeah.

Within the first ten pages of this book, Eltahawy shares two different experiences of sexual assault, and how she has changed as a person between them. The second one ends with her beating the shit out of her assailant.

Eltahawy frames this book around seven actions – sins – that she argues women are taught to stay away from but that indeed very necessary in overthrowing the patriarchy. The sins are Anger, Attention, Profanity, Ambition, Power, Violence, and Lust. In each exploration of sin, she offers examples of how that action was necessary in fighting back against the harm patriarchy inflicts on us all. Some, I have no problem embracing – anger, profanity, even ambition. Others I do have somewhat of a negative response to – attention, violence. But Eltahawy makes strong cases for each, with the constant refrain that we need to dismantle and overthrow the patriarchy, that it hurts women and girls, and being polite and asking to be respected hasn’t worked.

We have to demand it, and take the power back, by force if necessary.

I finished this with the backdrop of what’s been going on in the US this week, where a court that includes two men accused of sexual harassment / sexual assault (Thomas and Kavanaugh) along with a woman Eltahawy would definitely characterize as a foot soldier of the patriarchy (Coney Barrett, who probably wouldn’t have to do much acting to take on a Commander’s Wife role in The Handmaid’s Tale) will help to bastardize the US Constitution and take away one of the most fundamental human rights from people who can get pregnant. Its disgusting, it pisses me off, and having such an obvious marker of the patriarchy in the background as I read made this hit a little different than it might have if I’d read it at a different time.

There’s so much to unpack here, I wish I’d read this with other women, and could discuss each of the chapters separately. But it’s one of my favorite books of the year, and one I can see myself referring back to often.

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