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After all, nearly every society in history has struggled with sexism, and maybe still is. S., for example, women could not vote until 1920; even today, their access to basic reproductive health care is backsliding.We don't think about this as an issue of American men, white men, or Christian men innately and irreducibly hating women.A 2011 World Economic Forum report on national gender gaps put four Arab states in the bottom 10; the bottom 25 includes 10 Arab states, more than half of them.But sub-Saharan African countries tend to rank even more poorly.Of course, those first seeds of misogyny had to come from somewhere. Some say that it's simply because men are bigger and could fight their way to dominance; some that men seek to control women, and particularly female sexuality, out of a subconscious fear being of cuckolded and raising another man's child; others that the rise of the nation-state promoted the role of warfare in society, which meant the physically stronger gender took on more power.You don't hear these, or any of the other evolutionary theories, cited much. Like Christianity, Islam is an expansive and living religion.There are two general ways to think about the problem of misogyny in the Arab world.
The colonial rulers who conquered Muslim societies were skilled at pulling out the slightest justification for their "patriarchal bargain." They promoted the religious leaders who were willing to take this bargain and suppressed those who objected.They were Turkish -- or, as they called themselves at the time, Ottoman -- British, and French.These foreigners ruled Arabs for centuries, twisting the cultures to accommodate their dominance.Women's rights in the mostly Arab countries of the region are among the worst in the world, but it's more than that.As Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy writes in a provocative cover story for Foreign Policy, misogyny has become so endemic to Arab societies that it's not just a war on women, it's a destructive force tearing apart Arab economies and societies. How did misogyny become so deeply ingrained in the Arab world?