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Broadside: Necessary Truths: Fatima Bhutto and Mona Eltahawy

Listen to Broadside: Necessary Truths: Fatima Bhutto and Mona Eltahawy

Photograph of Sisonke Msimang, Fatima Bhutto and Mona Eltahawy at Broadside

Sisonke Msimang, Fatima Bhutto and Mona Eltahawy on stage at Melbourne Town Hall — Photo: Sophie Quick

'The role of artists is never to celebrate power.'

Fatima Bhutto

There's a million reasons why we're told to keep quiet on difficult subjects: propriety and decorum, convention and status, fear of retribution. When women try to introduce nuance into certain public debates, it doesn't usually go well for them. Western media conglomerates are often more interested in protecting power than interrogating it. If a woman offers an unvarnished analysis of power structures, or a contrary view, it's often framed as ugly, inappropriate or ungrateful.

In this episode, recorded at the inaugural Broadside festival of feminist ideas, two of the world’s most fearless, most honest, most forthright voices – Fatima Bhutto and Mona Eltahawy – unpick the challenges and pitfalls of a life of truth. With host Sisonke Msimang, they discuss artistry, the west, power and biography.


Portrait of Sisonke Msimang

Sisonke Msimang

Sisonke Msimang is the author of Always Another Country: A memoir of exile and home and The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela: A biography of survival. She is a South African writer whose work is focussed on race, gender and democracy. She has written for a range of international publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, Newsweek and Al Jazeera. Msimang is the curator of the literature and ideas program at Perth Festival.

Portrait of Fatima Bhutto

Fatima Bhutto

'Millions of women suffer but they also struggle, they resist and fight. Pakistan is a harsh country, an unfair country, but it also produces women with extraordinary spirit.'

Fatima Bhutto was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and grew up in Syria and Pakistan. She is the author of six books of fiction and non-fiction. Her debut novel, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon, was longlisted for the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction. Songs of Blood and Sword, the memoir she wrote about the life and assassination of her father, Murtaza Bhutto, was published to great acclaim. Her most recent book is New Kings of The World, a lively look at the forces that are challenging America’s cultural dominance of the world.

Portrait of Mona Eltahawy

Mona Eltahawy

‘The most subversive thing a woman can do is talk about her life as if it really matters.’

No voice coming out of the Arab Spring was as urgent and essential as Mona Eltahawy’s. Her new book, The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls, is an incendiary call to arms from a journalist defined by her wit and her power. She is also the author of Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution and is a contributor to the New York Times opinion pages. Her commentaries have appeared in several other publications and she is a regular guest analyst on various television and radio shows.


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