Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Frontiers of an Arab Woman :: Culture Cultural Marriage Essays

Frontiers of an Arab Woman â€Å"When you spend a whole day among the trees, waking up with walls as horizons becomes unbearable (Mernissi, 59).† One would assume that in the face of woman’s liberation-access to an equal and higher education, choice of a husband and access to a prosperous/independent future-that a woman would be positioned to escape gender oppression. However, this is not the case for the Arab women of Fatima Mernissi’s Dreams of Trespass and Ahdaf Soueif’s In the Eye of the Sun. The two main characters of these novels-Asya and Mernissi herself-enable the reader to understand how gender inequality is rooted in the frontiers and accepted social norms that are defined by the community and adhered to by the individual. Although these woman have access to an equal education with the hopes of becoming an enlightened, liberated women, education does not guarantee that they will ever become truly liberated. This paper will discuss the differences between the educated and seemingly liberated women of Dreams of Trespass, and In the Eye of the Sun, in hopes to understand whether cultural and educational frontiers are the only characteristics which govern a woman's right to escape the gendered Arab hierarchy. Why do some women, with access to westernization and an equal education still fall victim to the subservient expectations of an unliberated and uneducated female in the Arab world? Why are these women maintaining such domination when they are surrounded by tools of liberation? What are the causes of such oppression? The maintained traditional frontiers that continue to define gender roles in these stories, Islamic traditional values, familial expectations? Using the frontiers that guide the lives of Fatima Mernissi and Asya, we will seek to understand the causes of the differences between the two characters--one woman is liberated, the other, for most of her life, remains oppressed-- when both are from progressive, wealthy and educated families. Although both Fatima and Asya grew up in privileged families, these two women evolve into very different characters--one oppressed the other liberated. Asya and Fatima were surrounded by very different frontiers (see pg 2), which ultimately led to the development of two very different women. Fatima was raised within the rigid confines of a walled city harem, but emerges a strong woman that is left unscathed by her oppressive childhood. As a child she was surrounded by strong feminist role models, who lived in the harem with her, that taught her to maintain dreams of trespass because they eventually would set her free.

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