The role of women in Middle Eastern culture has always been a hot topic in politics and religion, and has inadvertently spread over into film. According to Yahoo, the Egyptian movie Scheherazade: Tell Me a Story, has earned plenty of praise as well as negative criticism for its portrayal of a successful Middle Eastern couple, trying to advance their careers in spite of each other.
Scheherazade: Tell Me a Story centers on woman named Hebba, a successful talk-show host whose husband urges her to steer clear of politics in order to forward his own career. As the deputy editor of a state-run newspaper in Cairo, Karim has been told by officials he is in line for the top job as long as his wife tones down the provocative content of her popular television slot. As you can imagine the two butt heads over who should step away from their respective careers.
In an unexpected turn Hebba exposes several of Egypt’s dirty little secrets, including the blatant sexual and physical abuse of women. Scheherazade highlights the struggle and unethical treatment allowed in Egyptian and Middle Eastern society for all to see. The film’s whirlwind controversy has made lead actress Mona Zaki an obvious target for most of the verbal abuse.
“It shocked me, although I did know that I would be attacked,” she said.”It was too harsh, it was too judgmental, it was more on my personal relationship (with my husband) than on my work. It was more to do with Egyptian culture than the movie.”
It’s no secret that women all over the world live in societies that forbid them to have certain rights and freedoms that Americans see as basic necessities. The negative treatment that the film’s star and director Yousry Nasrallah have received doesn’t come as a shock to me at all. Perhaps one day we can move beyond this type of ignorance, and allow people to express themselves openly without the threat of a physical or verbal attack.
What do you think of the negative treatment of the cast and director of Scheherazade have received?