Arab Society Essay Research Paper Evil sinful

Arab Society Essay, Research Paper Evil, sinful, lover of Satan and weak are just a few adjectives to describe women through history. Nevertheless, women were not always portrayed as so.

Arab Society Essay, Research Paper

Evil, sinful, lover of Satan and weak are just a few adjectives to describe

women through history. Nevertheless, women were not always portrayed as so.

Women once held a strong and dominated figure within the society. In the ancient

Egyptian society, women were equal to men in status and prestige. Within the

XVIIIth Dynasty, women such as Nephertiti and Hatchipsoot reign the country.

?In that period, Pharaonic women laboured in textile and carpet manufactory,

traded in markets and shared in hunting side by side with her husband (El

Saadawi. 1980, P. 108-1).? Furthermore, women played sports, drank, held

positions of government, worked, etc. However, as time past and countries began

to flourish, there was a shift in the socio-economic status in women. Women

began reducing in standing. What happened? Nawal El Saadawi, author of The

Hidden Face of Eve, strongly believes that circumcision is the cause of

women?s oppression and feeling of powerlessness. However, many within the

society believe that conditioned oppression is supported due to religion,

landowership and the patriarchal system and they are utilized as in instrument

of fear, oppression and exploitation. Circumcision is still practiced in many

Arab countries because a woman?s virginity and hymen is extremely important.

?Behind circumcision lies the belief that, by removing parts of girls?

external genital organs, sexual desire is minimized (El Saadawi. 1980, p.

33).? This procedure is not performed by a doctor but someone similar to a

midwife. It is believe that deep incisions must be done in order to remove all

the remains of the genital. Consequently, this may result in infection and even

death. Furthermore, ?sexual frigidity is one of the after-effects which is

accentuated by other social and psychological factors that influence the

personality and mental make-up of females in Arab societies (El Saadawi. 1980,

p. 33).? Due to Circumcision, girls are subjected to a series of pain

humiliation because of the notion of how virginity is valued. Many girls

believed that the genital was a root of all evil. El Saadawi had many patients,

bleeding from infection but happy to get rid of the source of their desire. For

example: ?I did not know anything about the operation at the time, except that

it was very simple, and that it was done to all girls for purposes of

cleanliness and purity and the preservation of a good reputation. It was said

that a girl who did not undergo this operation was liable to be talked about by

people, her behavior would become bad, and she would starting running after men,

with the result that no one would agree to marry her when the time for marriage

came. My grandmother told me that the operation had only consisted in the

removal of a very small piece of flesh from between my thighs, and that the

continued existence of this small piece of flesh in its place would have made me

unclean and impure, and would have caused the man whom I would marry to be

repelled by me.? ?Did you believe what was said to you?? ?Of course I

did. I was happy the day I recovered from the effects of the operation and felt

as though I was rid of something which had to be removed and so had become clean

and pure (El Saadawi. 1980, p. 35).? El Saadawi knew from experience what many

of these girls are going through because she went through the same experience.

She could never forget the painful experience that made her lose her

?childhood once and for all, and that deprived me during my youth and for many

years of married life from enjoying the fullness of me sexuality and the

completeness of life that can only come from all round psychological equilibrium

(El Saadawi. 1980, p. 9).? Nawal El Saadawi believes that religion is used as

an instrument in order to justify why the girls in the Arab societies are forced

to go through circumcision. Once religion was formulated as a monotheistic one,

the three main religions of the world developed Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The world begins with ?Adam and Eve? and this story is shared within all

three religions. The story of Adam and Eve is the first sign that women are

portrayed as less than a man. The Bible takes away a factor that was associated

with women, birth. However, ?Eve was born of Adam?s rib (El Saadawi. 1980,

P. 102).? In the Judaism religion, arose the notion that ?women was sinful

and that sex was sin (El Saadawi. 1980, p. 95). According to El Saadawi (1980)

this story ?shows clearly the injustice suffered by women, and the attempt to

mask her situation by religious sanctification aimed at smothering all doubt,

all discussion and all resistance (p. 102).? In other words, within this male

dominated society, women are being circumcised not because it is being enforced

by men, but the Bible dictates it to be so. That is what they like everyone to

believe, however, who wrote the Bible? Men! As El Saadawi points out (1980), God

exalts man in His Bible as one of high intelligence and on if thought, where as

a woman is just a body without a head (p. 103). Fir example, in Christianity

?God had created man in his own image, and God was spirit. Woman on the hand

was the body, and the body was sex (El Saadawi. 1980, p. 95)? In other words,

men is the depiction of God, where as women are just a deviation of men. Women

are born without an essential factor, a head and therefore, she is not complete

because a head is the center of thought, which distinguishes humans from animal.

It is based on this fact that it is believed that women should be circumcised.

Since a woman is of the flesh, she must be rid of anything that will give her

sexual pleasure. With the Sudan culture, girls are forced to undergo an

amputation of her whole external organs. This includes cutting off her

?clitoris, the two outer lips and the two minor inner lips. The wound is

repaired. The outer opening of the vagina is the only portion left intact, not

however without ensured that, during the process of repairing, some narrowing of

the opening is carried out with a few extra stitches (El Saadawi. 1980, p.

9).? El Saadawi believes (1980) that religion is used as a shackle upon the

mind of patriarchal society in order to oppress, dictate, dominate and

domesticate women (p. 98). Religion has led people to believe that women are the

roots of all evil. They are filled with lustful behaviors and they are filled

with evil and Satan. In a way, women are seen as disciples of Satan. It is a

ma?s job to control them. The male dominated society reinforces the idea that

women must be pure, chaste and virginal in order to be worthy of a man. These

puritanical values are utilized ?to build on oppression and are still part of

the arsenal of heavy weapons which maintains a continuous barrage in the war

against revolutionary struggles of women, colored races and the exploited

classes living under the semi-feudal or imperialism and neo-colonialism (El

Saadawi. 1980, p. 98).? The monotheistic religion, in enunciating the

principles relating to the role and position of women in life, as we have seen,

drew inspiration and guidance from the value of the patriarchal and class

societies prevalent at the time. Nawal El Saadawi focuses on the patriarchal

system as a major condition for the oppression of women. The shift between man

and woman began when men realized the importance of landowership. Man recognized

the association between land and having wealth and power. Landownership places

them in a higher social, economic and political arena. In acquiring land, man

must have someone to cultivate it since it demeans their status within the

society to do. The oppression of a slave and women became apparent. ?Wives

were a source of wealth since they shouldered many heavy tasks in birth field

and home without expecting any payment in return apart from their keep. Their

lot was that of unpaid labourers no better off than slaves (El Saadawi. 1980, p.

111).? As much as we want to fault religion for such dehumanizing acts, this

is not the case. Yes, religion does devalue women, but it does not state that

women should not have any pleasure nor should she be circumcised. These are

organs and flash that God has created in women. In a sense, ?religion is most

often used as an instrument in the hands of economic and political forces, as an

institution utilized by those who rule to keep down those who are ruled (El

Saadawi. 1980, p. 4).? Women were seen no better than cattle as they brought

and sold as such. Fathers sold their daughters to the highest bidder. In a way,

women don?t really care who they are sold off too, sexually they feel nothing.

Once these females were sold into marriage, the husband had full control over

them. How were women to object to such oppression within a male dominated

society? It is quite evident that they could not fight back. The idea that they

are the weak, useless, sinful and most incomplete gender has been a constant

reminder to them that they live in a dictatorship of men. From the time that

they are young girls, the fact that sex is sinful is drummed into them. ?The

child therefore is trained to suppress her own desires to empty herself of

authentic, original wants and wishes linked to her own self, and to fill the

vacuum that results with the desires of others (El Saadawi. 1980, p. 13).?

Furthermore, before she reaches the stage of becoming a woman, she is succumbed

with the fact that she will go through the process of circumcision. ?A girl

who has lost her personality, her capacity to think independently, and to use

her own mind, will do what others have told her and will become a toy in their

hands and a victim of their decisions. Religion, therefore, is interwoven with

the patriarchal system and landownership. It provided laws and regulation solely

upon women that was reinforced by man. Women were obligated to be chaste,

virginal, obedient and faithful to their husband. ?The development of private

property which reinforces the ? passions of acquisitiveness and ownership?

and the development of the patriarchal society, the husband began to demand

complete fidelity of his wife (El Saadawi. 1980, p. 117).? This is a long age

double standard throughout history. Males coerce these rules upon women, yet

they do not have to abide by the same rules. They are set free of these puritan

standards because they are the authoritative figure within society and they are

?enslave the sexual code of chastity and sexual rectitude for the females (El

Saadawi. 1980, p. 111).? Those women who are believed to be guilty of breaking

these codes could be subjected to numerous consequences, such as death and

torture. The immediate consequence of circumcision causes the oppression of

women that get a sense of powerlessness. They have no power to governor their

own lives. They must live under the direct rule the male dominated society. They

have no sense of who they are and what they can accomplish because they are

brainwashed by the religious and patriarchal figures. They see themselves as the

weaker sex filled with great evil, and evil that will always be imbedded within

her. She is also seen as incomplete and lacking without her male counterpart.

This leaves a long and grave affected on the morale, mental, physical, emotional

as well as the spiritually factors of a woman. She is forever seen as an object,

a thing no better than an animal. In turn, these ideas are handed down

throughout generations, to every female born. It is a never-ending cycle that

dehumanizes women into believing that God made them sinful and incomplete.

Furthermore, it is made to believe that with the divinity of God, for males who

are made in His image, to have total control over them, for their well being. In

many ways, women (mothers and wives) are exploited. They are to carry numerous

vital functions, such as to clean, wash, cook, give birth (preferable to male

children), nurse, teach and satisfy their husbands? sexually appetites for

which she is not paid. ?She is therefore the lowest paid labourer in existence

and therefore man pays her the lowest wage known for any category of human being

of burden (El Saadawi. 1980, p. 143).? The long-term effect of this oppression

is a sense of powerlessness. Women go on to believe that there is no difference

between themselves and cattle. They have neither say in the political, social,

economic nor the religious spectrum of society. Women are not given the choice

to feel anything sexually. Many of them are fighting for emancipation, which is

a right that women established in the United States in the early 1900s.

Furthermore, women are trying to break away from tradition; however, they are

finding it extremely difficult. How can they succeed, when their society

strongly dominated by religion, tradition, and customs and managed by a male

dictatorial environment? Men still have the belief that such as break from

tradition would only lead to women losing their chastity and honor. According to

El Saadawi (1980), as a result of this confined view of women, women only

construed 9% of the labor force in 1976 (p. 185). Overall, ?the oppression of

women in any society is in its turn an expression of an economic structure built

on landownership, systems of inheritance and parenthood, and the patriarchal

family as an in built social unit (El Saadawi. 1980, p. 4).? Times are

changing and we are in a new millennium. Many would assume that equality within

the sexes and races would exist already. However, that is not the case. There is

such a great amount of tradition and customs that is quite difficult to break

away from. We need more people I m the world that are willing to take a stand

for what they believe in such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Mother

Teresa, etc.

El Saadawi, Nawal. (1980). The Hidden Face Of Eve; Women in the Arab World.

New York; St Martin Press, Inc

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