There is distinction between lives of Arab Women and their perception by American Media.
The stereotypes spin out of control. Rise of US Feminism and with the rise of ‘Islam’ as enemy emerged in 1970-80’s. ?History of Arab Feminism is long, layered and impressive. (Oxymoronic) ? Women NGO’s in Middle East and North Africa have risen exponentially in 1980-90’s. ?Ex: New Woman’s group, Arab Woman’s Publishing House, the Alliance of Arab Women, the association for the development and Enhancement of Women, Progressive Women’s Union. (In Egypt)Books & Authors stating something ?Quran ?Leveled the social balances for Women.
?Women had the right to inherit property, own and operate businesses. ?Banned infanticide of newborn baby girls. ?Shirley Gutherie author of ‘Arab Women in the Middle Ages’ ? Affluent Arab Women’s negotiated the details of Marriage Contract. ?Demanded their husbands to be monogamous. ?Demanded right to initiate divorce proceedings.
?Qasim Amin “Father of Arab Feminism” wrote book ‘The Liberation of Women’ ? Huda Sha’rawi a contemporary of Qasim Amin. ?Founded Egyptian Feminist Union. Her Pan-Arab Feminism worked closely with Pan-Arab movment, which was response to British Colonisim. ?Success of both the things was interdependent.
Question: Reason for Antagonism between Western and Eastern Feminism. Answer: Western sees men from East suppressing and scheduling their women and Easterner underlines the immorality of women in the west. ?Arab Feminism Today ?A recent memoir by Fay Ataf Kanafani,entitled ‘ Nadia, Captive of Hope: Memoir of an Arab Women’. Story is about a Palestinian woman who was married off to her cousin and then widowed during Arab-Israeli War.She describes the gender inequality during 1940-50’s and feminist principles.
?Noted Arab Feminist, Nawal al-Saadawi managed to keep her marriage intact despite an Egyptian lawsuit. She had been accused because of comments she made in an interview. ?Her Vocal opposition and other issues made her a target of Islamist Fundamentalists, who put her name on death list in 1993, prompting her to immigrate to US. ?Arab women reclaiming their identities and correcting historically maligned portray. ?Novel ‘In the eye of Sun’ written by Ahdaf Soueif.It’s a story about woman Asya who cheats her husband and has a brief affair with a person in England.
Concept of odalisque and the stereotypes people have has been explained beautifully. ?Leila Shebbar author of Sherzade Trilogy. It’s about an Algerian woman staying in Paris who proclaims “I m not an odalisque”. ?Veil ?Qasim Amin’s ‘The Liberation of Women’ (1899) was considered scandalous for his call for abolition of veil. ?It shows veil has been point of discussion over centuries.
And it’s not Western Feminism who brought this thing ahead. ?Leila Ahmad author of ‘Women and Gender in Islam’. She illustrates that the British “Victorian Male Establishment” used the idea that Muslim men oppressed Muslim women as a justifiable pretext for its colonization and civilization of Muslim countries. ?Many women in Middle East see this concept of veil as important locus of discussion, and divorces have occurred due to the concept of veil. ?Some women see this topic as irrelevant as it’s distracting from the main problems of women’s access to education, health care and increasing poverty in Arab families. ?After September 11 attacks, all of the women who wore veil were verbally targeted.
Arab Women’s hated stopping at red lights because people in the cars sitting next to her would curse her and even show her finger. ?Instances of repudiating veil. ?In Iran, militant Qurratul Ayn publically unveiled as early as 1840’s. ?In 1923, Egyptian Feminist Huda Shawari rejected this concept of veil by flinging it into sea.
American women should recognize that Arab women themselves and even some Arab men have grappled with gender inequality for over a century. This is the message which American Feminists have unheard, although they must have heard.
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