To speak out against patriarchal double standards in the Arabic world, a Syrian feminist activist revealed last month on Facebook that she’d had casual sex with a man.
“Yes, I had sex with a free thinking and physically attractive man and I don’t feel ashamed; rather I feel strong, worthy and feel like I made the right choice,” Dareen Hasan, 40, wrote on July 20.
#أنا_مارست_الجنس #I_had_SexEnglish belowنعم مارست الجنس مع رجل صاحب فكر وجسد جميل ولم أشعر بالعار بل بالقوة…
“I have felt ashamed before though; I felt like a whore when I was (Islamically) lawfully married in Syria to a man who convinced me of his rights to be sexually active with other women and I had to accept it,” she added. “He viewed me as merely a body and saw himself as intellectually smarter than I.”
Elsewhere in the post, Hasan railed against “honor killings,” the veiling of women from head to toe and her feeling that women are treated as “properties of the patriarchy.”
“This is not an article advocating for having sex, rather an invitation to the conversation about sex. It is a woman’s right,” she wrote. “Sex is not a mistake. Patriarchal society needs to wake up and realize that my body desires sex- my body is mine. Yes, I am searching to fulfill these needs and desires how I please.”
The post has since gone viral, being liked more than 37,000 times and racking up 17,000 comments.
Many of the comments contained insults directed at Hasan for her purported lack of modesty and shame.
But Hasan, in an interview with BBC Arabic published on Saturday, said she felt the overall reaction had been “positive.”
“I expected a bigger and harsher attack, especially from women, but I was particularly surprised by the numbers of women who loved what I wrote and shared the publication,” she told the BBC.
Hasan said she was disappointed, however, by some fellow advocates for women’s rights, who she said characterized her post as an “abuse of the feminist movement” and a “moral fall.”
According to the filmmaker – who founded a feminist organization three years ago and publishes videos on women’s issues to YouTube – her female critics are “afraid of the attitudes of men” when it comes to the issue of women’s sexual agency.
‘Muslim incels’ react to Dareen Hasan
Several users on the r/exmuslim subreddit, a Reddit forum for individuals who have stopped following Islam, blasted the “vile” reaction to Hasan’s post. In particular, r/exmuslim commenters took issue with Arabic Facebook users who responded to Hasan’s feminist statement with sexist ridicule.
One Facebook user’s reply, which received more than 130 likes, asked whether Hasan would be releasing a video to pornographic sites.
Another, translated from Arabic by an r/exmuslim poster, purportedly read : “I don’t believe you had sex. We need to see a video.”
“The male commentators can joke and ask for a video of her having sex. Some of them even mention the names of porn sites. They can talk like this because they are men. But you can’t imagine a Muslim girl talking like this on facebook with her real name,” wrote one Reddit user.
Another said the reaction to Hasan was an example of “Incel muslim logic.”
“‘If a man talks about sex all the time and fucks his 9 wives every week then it’s fine,” the commenter wrote, “but if a woman mentions the word sex a single time then she is an infidel whore that must be taught a lesson.'”
Some users slammed non-Muslim advocates for Islam, accusing them of white-washing problematic aspects of the religion.
“Islam has nothing to do with islam!” quipped one commenter.