Rewind

The Week in Women: Vacationing without a headscarf, a reviled Olympian, and a blank space in Pakistan

Nothing expresses displeasure quite like a ban or boycott. From booted Harvard clubs to outrageous moves against an Iranian parliamentarian, this week was all about protest by prevention. Let’s take a look back:

Female students at Harvard have mounted a protest against the school’s plan to prohibit members of all single-sex clubs from holding leadership positions on campus — a move that will affect some 30 percent of the university’s students. The prohibition was sparked by concerns over Harvard’s all-male “final clubs,” historic societies that have long been linked to privilege and, according to a recent report, sexual assault. But the rule will also apply to five female final clubs, as well as nine sororities and fraternities. So yes, the university is trying to dismantle a culture of misogyny by imposing sanctions that will debilitate women’s spaces on campus. And no, we don’t get it either.

An Iranian woman who was elected to the country’s Parliament is being blocked from assuming office on the grounds that she has “betrayed the nation”—hardliner code for “opting not to wear a hijab in public.” Minoo Khaleghi was brought under scrutiny by a state committee, which said it had unearthed photographs that show her touring Europe and China without her hijab. Khaleghi fired back at her opponents, accusing them of trying to suppress a woman’s political voice, and announced that she is suing them. In a statement to the official government newspaper of Iran, Khaleghi wrote that those who published the images were driven by “political greed,” and that she is “a Muslim woman, adhering to the principles of Islam.”

Eighteen-year-old Marisa Dick will represent Trinidad and Tobago at the Olympics this summer, but it seems her fellow Trinidadians are hoping to get her kicked out of the games. Many seem to believe that Dick, who was born in Canada and is mixed-race, colluded with the country’s gymnastics federation to oust her Trinidad-born rival, Thema Williams. Though Williams beat Dick at a qualifying event in Scotland, she was pulled out of the running under opaque circumstances. Allegations of favoritism spread when the federation scrutinized Williams for topless selfies that leaked online, but dropped her case after similarly compromising photos of Dick were surfaced. Geez, this is like House of Cards on a high beam.

An opinion piece by Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy, “Sex Talk for Muslim Women,” was subjected to a rather conspicuous ban in Pakistan: The article was slated to run in The Express Tribune, but was replaced by a blank space. Eltahawy had written about her decision to engage in pre-marital sex, and a source at The Express Tribune claimed that the paper “can’t afford to publish such controversial articles about Islam.” It is telling, of course, that the publication was so wigged out by mention of female sexuality that it opted instead for an empty void — the nightmare of every editor.

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