Mona Eltahawy and Peggy Orenstein, interviewed by Sylvia Brownrigg
In Western societies today, in order to be "liked," girls as young as middle school feel pressure to "sext" or become sexually active. In the Middle East, adolescent girls are veiled and their freedom restrained so their fathers and future husbands can ensure that they're virgins. What do these mirrored opposites show? From headscarves to Tinder, hymens to “hot,” how can girls reclaim their own bodies and sexuality?
Sylvia Brownrigg is the author of several acclaimed works of fiction: four novels, Morality Tale, The Delivery Room, Pages for You, and The Metaphysical Touch, and a collection of stories, Ten Women Who Shook the World.
Newly forthcoming in the US this fall will be The Delivery Room, a novel the London Times called "intensely intelligent and highly readable" and the Observer "outstanding. . . a marvelous novel." Morality Tale was described in the New York Times as "divinely deadpan", and in the San Francisco Chronicle as a "witty parable of marriage."
Brownrigg's works have been included in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times lists of notable fictions and have been translated into several languages, and she has won a Lambda award for fiction.
Her short stories have appeared in Zoetrope: All Story, the art journal frieze, and the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as several anthologies. "The Bird Chick" was read on BBC Radio 4 and "Amazon" was one of NPR's Selected Shorts. In addition to writing fiction, Sylvia Brownrigg has also taught at the American University in Paris and been widely published as a reviewer and critic.
Brownrigg grew up in Los Altos, California, and Oxford, England, was educated at Yale and Johns Hopkins Universities, and lived for many years in London. She is now married to San Francisco radio host Sedge Thomson and lives in Berkeley with their son and daughter, and her stepson. The family continues to spend time in England.
Mona Eltahawy is an Egyptian American freelance journalist and commentator, and the author of "Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution." Her essays and op-eds on Egypt, the Islamic world, and women’s rights have appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, the Miami Herald, and other publications. Newsweek magazine named Eltahawy one of its "150 Fearless Women of 2012," and Arabian Business named her one of the 100 Most Powerful Arab Women. She has appeared as a guest commentator on MSNBC, BBC, CNN, PBS, Al-Jazeera, NPR, and dozens of other television and radio networks. She is extremely active on Twitter, with over 230K followers.
Peggy Orenstein is an internationally recognized writer and speaker on issues affecting women and girls. Also a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, she is the author of the books, Waiting For Daisy, Flux, and Schoolgirls.