The Brainpower of Scheherazade


“What kind of revolution, I wonder, do we need to make men dream of self-assertive independent women as the epitome of beauty?” – Fatema Mernissi

Scheherazade is an admired and revered Islamic female political hero because she was more than just another pretty face. She opened her mouth to speak and reason rather than seduce. She spoke words to weave stories that ultimately saved lives. The king ended up falling in love with her ultimately because of her ability to self-assert herself into diagnosing the root issue behind the king’s spree of virgin killings. She was more than just another warm body. She had a brain and she used it.

Mernissi’s admiration of Scheherazade is completely reasonable. Why shouldn’t women be loved for their brain power, we’re brilliant creatures. Her musing though over what it will take to change a man’s vision of the ideal woman leaves me wondering the same thing. Just as women are sucked into the billion dollar cosmetic, fashion, diet, or plastic surgery industry in the Western world, men are sucked into that unreachable ideal as well. They’re trained from birth in our world that women are to be these mythically, impossibly, beautiful people—and only beautiful on the outside. If you ask me I’d say to change the way women are viewed or thought about we should start with the cereal boxes. Rather than pictures of ideal/airbrushed people on them all the time what if we just stuck to, here’s a concept, pictures of cereal. Or a crossword puzzle at best. A revolution like what Mernissi dreams about has to start with the young ones.

I doubt our cereal boxes will be changing anytime soon, they’re not all bad. Maybe someday though both men and women will realize the beauty of being a Scheherazade.


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