Author: Zahra Hankir, Christiane Amanpour
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: These essays give a fascinating and varied perspective that made it well wroth the effort required to read it given my minimal knowledge of the Middle East.
This is an incredible collection of essays from a bunch of brave, talented, Arabic journalists. I loved hearing about their professional and personal lives. As the editor described in her intro and as these stories make clear, working as a woman covering the Middle East is a dangerous undertaking. These female journalists work under a ‘double burden’, working in countries that often fail to protect either women or journalists from harassment, violence, and violations of their human rights.
For someone with my lack of background knowledge, this essay collection did require some work. A few of the essays felt instructive, but others offered barely enough context to get me by. I found taking detailed notes helped me concentrate enough to truly understand what was being said. Fortunately, this was a collection that rewarded close reading. Even while taking notes, these essays flew by for me. The women writing these essays were often in danger and every story felt important. I learned so much reading these. I really appreciated the many different perspectives. The authors included women who grew up in the Middle East and those who grew up elsewhere, women who were still working and those who weren’t. It was a great collection in that way.
Feminism and sexism were, of course, themes throughout. A number of these journalists also had interesting experiences related to being both an insider and an outsider – having the correct accent and gender to be allowed in women’s only spaces, but not having grown up in the Middle East, for example. Several essays made me consider the challenge of balancing journalistic neutrality with other concerns, such as promoting human rights and helping others when you are able. Each woman had to balance telling the stories they cared about with other factors as well, from protecting themselves and their families to wanting to be somewhere with better protection for women’s rights. Overall, a thought-provoking collection that was well worth the time.