Women In The Middle East Essay

2331 words - 9 pages

In the book, Women in the Middle East, a Saudi Arabian proverb states, "A girl possesses nothing but a veil and a tomb" (Harik and Marston 83). The key words, "veil" and "tomb" lend evidence to the fact that many Middle Eastern women lack identity symbolized by the “veil” and lack the right of ownership except for their veil and the tomb. This statement further enforces the notion that many women in the Middle East are expected to serve and tolerate the oppression of the men in their lives throughout their lives on this earth. Moreover, it confirms that many of these women do not get the opportunity to obtain education, join the work force, and even participate in the political affairs of the country. This arrangement further helps the Middle Eastern men to view women as their properties, servants, or even as slaves. Ultimately, there are three main reasons why Middle Eastern men engage in the act of oppressing their women.
One primary reason why Middle Eastern men oppress women is their deeply rooted belief system as well as their needs. For example, their belief that the Middle Eastern woman’s duty is being a dedicated homemaker encourages them to disallow her from seeking an education. Ramsay M. Harik and Elsa Martson, revisit this concept in their book, Woman in the Middle East, as they state that many males convince their women that education is unnecessary nor relevant to their household responsibilities. "The girl will spend her life cooking and having babies, why does she need to read or write? This was a common attitude in much of the Middle East until the last fifty years or so" (24). The common consensus was that once educated, these women would question many of the injustices suffered, would demand better treatment and probably overcome the odds. For example, an educated woman can convince her husband that she can handle both household tasks and work responsibilities simultaneously. She can argue more effectively with her husband by showing him that she can cook before she goes to her job, or work while her kids are at school. Another belief that many Middle Eastern men possess is that women would be more passive if they are uneducated. Hence, they invest a great deal of energy in ensuring that their women are out of school and uneducated. The cycle of oppression is sustained as the oppression of women continues; women are kept ignorant, while men continue to feel unthreatened by the possibility that their educated women might demand freedom and equality. The belief of Middle Eastern men viewing their women as nothing but servants, expecting them to clean, cook, and raise children seems to be the driving force behind keeping women from achieving their educational potentials.
The Middle Eastern men's beliefs exemplify Fredrick Douglass's experience with slavery. For example, in the essay “Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass,” Mr. Auld did not allow Mrs. Auld help Fredrick Douglass, who was a black slave, learn to read...

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