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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thomas Friedman's "I Am a Man": What About "I Am a Woman"?

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "I Am a Man" (, Thomas Friedman explains why he is able to smile while observing the Arab Spring unfold:

"The smile? A Libyan friend remarked to me the other day that he was watching Arab satellite TV out of Benghazi, Libya, and a sign held aloft at one demonstration caught his eye. It said in Arabic: 'Ana Rajul' — which translates to 'I am a man.' If there is one sign that sums up the whole Arab uprising, it’s that one."

Unlike Tom, I will smile when I see a sign at a demonstration in the Muslim Middle East saying "I am a woman".

Perhaps such a sign would mark the end of "honor killings" against women, female genital mutilation, the stoning to death of women for alleged adultery, lashings and prison for women who have undergone gang rape, discrimination against women at institutions of higher learning, and a host of other injustices perpetrated against women throughout the Muslim Middle East.

Perhaps the sign "I am a women" would mean that gatherings similar to the recent "Million Women's March" from Tahrir Square in Cairo, which was attended by only several hundred women, could be held without violent abuse from male bystanders and without being dispersed by the police.

Indeed, when I will see the sign "I am a woman" displayed proudly and fearlessly throughout the capital cities of the Muslim Middle East, I too will be able to smile. Unfortunately, I'll probably need to wait many more years to see this become a reality, if it ever occurs during my lifetime.

[This blog entry, submitted as an online comment in response to Tom's op-ed, was censored by The New York Times.]

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