[When you overthrow your dictator and celebrate your freedom by subjugating half the population and then some]
In the wake of the “Arab Spring” revolts in Egypt, the Maghbreb and some parts of the Arab world (it might be better termed Berber Spring than Arab Spring, as it began in largely Berber North Africa), many of the “progressive” policies put in place by dictators have come under attack by new political factions.
In Tunisia, where the revolutions began, the previous ruler had done a great deal to advance feminist causes in his country, possibly at the urging of his wife. Many of these Muslim leaders were educated and trained in the West before they came to power, and during the course of their instruction they absorbed a lot of what is known as progressive policy today. In fact, sometimes they were ahead of the West in that regard because, being authoritarian dictators, they had little standing in their way when they chose to implement new policies.
Hmmm, sounds just like home. Looks as though Ben Ali modeled his country’s divorce laws on California code. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the Arab Spring began with a slap to the face of a young man by a female authority.
Ben Ali, according to the report, used feminism as a means to gain legitimacy even as he committed human rights violations. As is so often the case, the excuse that one is “protecting women and children” often serves as a license to commit egregious violations of human rights.
Finally, the author of the piece, who is evidently a feminist (or feminist friendly) herself, admits that most feminist achievements in the region were achieved not in spite of oppression, but because of it[.]
Feminism needs authoritarianism for obvious reasons: men must be forced by those with more power than they have to submit to the women in their lives. Feminists may sometimes claim to support freedom and democracy, but the smart ones know that both must be curtailed in order to achieve their version of equality.
Ultimately, however, as Tunisia demonstrates, the symbiotic relationship between authoritarianism and “progressive” policies such as feminism create an environment that is too much for the people to bear, and unrest breaks loose. When that happens in the West is an open question, but given our economic stagnation, I can only see the pressure rising from here on out.