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Guests Of The Sheik Essay, Research Paper

Component of Gender:

A reappraisal of the Literature

Through out Middle East the lives of adult females appear to hold no influencing function in society. Elizabeth Fernea provides an study of the traditions of an Iraqi small town in her book Guests of the Sheik. Within this book, Fernea explores the component of gender and its impact on the functions of adult females in Iraq, straight in the small town of El Nahra. She besides encounters the outlooks based on the gender-specific societal concepts of polygamous households. Another adult female writer, Leila Abouzeid, explores similar elements in the work Return to Childhood, which is based in Muslim Morocco. Fernea, who the adult females of the hareem call Beeja, presents experiential information about the life of both adult females and work forces and her function within her hubby & # 8217 ; s life as it reflects upon this eastern civilization. This provides for an interesting position about the different functions of work forces and adult females in distant eastern civilizations. Abouzeid besides remarks on household construction from the eyes of a kid and how she viewed the function of the adult female besides within the eastern civilization.

In Guest of the Arab chief, Fernea & # 8217 ; s narrative comes from her stay, with her hubby, Bob, on the outskirts of a Iraqi small town, and the brushs that they experienced as a guest2

he sheik though the eyes of a westerner. Even though Fernea and her hubby were both good respected westerners, Fernea

herself recognized that the function of a female within the Iraqi community would necessitate her to conform to some of the gender-based societal norms. This was apparent in her outlooks of their first meeting. After being invited by the Arab chief to tiffin, Fernea reflected on the visit by saying that the invitation meant that & # 8220 ; Bob would eat with the work forces in the Arab chief & # 8217 ; s mudhif or invitee house, and I would lunch in the Harem, or adult females & # 8217 ; s quarters & # 8221 ; ( 24 ) .Fernea is besides forced to conform to the frock appropriate for adult female, the abayah, to avoid abuses and her ain self-aware about how she was being position a adult female. & # 8220 ; They say an exposed adult female is an immoral adult female & # 8221 ; ( 24 ) .Immediately, the reader is brought into the position of the different gender functions and the positions of both the western invitees and the eastern community within which they would see.

Within both communities spoken of these books, there are three elements of life that appear over and over and underscore the gender differences within eastern civilization. These include: the relationship between adult females and the raising of kids, imposts and the procedure of matrimony and the readying and ingestion of nutrient ( including the banquet of Ramadan ) .Within Fernea & # 8217 ; s experiences, these elements repetition

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and continually supply greater apprehension of the differences between western civilization and the elaboratenesss of the civilization of the Iraqi small town. These elements are besides evident when Abouzeid recalls the conversation and action of the work forces in and around her household.

Fernea experiences her apprehension of the relationship between adult females and the of raising kids through her exposure to the Arab chief & # 8217 ; s hareem. The adult females of the harem represent many different types and different ages, from the Arab chief & # 8217 ; s earliest married womans to his favourite married woman of the current twenty-four hours. Though the Arab chief & # 8217 ; s married womans portion the elevation of his kids, there appears to be a degree of green-eyed monster among the different married womans, yet all accept Selma & # 8217 ; s function as the immediate & # 8220 ; leader & # 8221 ; because of her favorite position with the Arab chief. The adult females portion non merely their hubby, but elements of conveying up a kid and a concern for the societal consistences displayed by their interactions. Fernea is able to larn the importance of maternity to the societal concepts of the small town through the presentation of Fadhila & # 8217 ; s life. Fadhila, who is a married woman of another small town member, non the Arab chief, portions her greatest sorrow in life, her childlessness. Though no finding of her sterility was made, the social norms pointed the finger at Fadhila as the adult female and the carrier of kids, instead than at her hubby. Fadhila & # 8217 ; s destiny within the small town is questionable because of

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her inability to gestate a kid ; within the civilization of the small town, & # 8220 ; childlessness is verifiable evidences for divorce & # 8221 ; ( 43 ) . Even though Fadhila appears in good wellness and is a vivacious lively single, her value as a adult female and a married woman is depleted by her deficiency of kids. Many members of the small town commiseration her hubby & # 8217 ; s hapless pick even though it has ne’er been determined that Fadhila & # 8217 ; s sterility is the ground the twosome can non gestate. Through Abouzeid memories adult females are placed in the community, non to travel to school and learn but to raise a family. & # 8221 ; A misss fate is matrimony, pregnanc

Y and chest feeding..” ( 36 ) . This besides can reenforce the apprehension that adult females are non to stand out but to be portion of and function their household and desires of their hubby. The other adult females that Fernea brushs celebrate the bearing of kids, and many even have had a figure of the sheik’s babes. It is interesting that the members of the hareem portion a common apprehension of the importance of kids, but besides effort to disregard the gravitation of the loss of a kid, accepting that it occurs within the range of their kid rise uping procedure.

The ceremonial and patterns environing the nuptials besides demonstrated the differences between western civilization and the civilization of the Iraqi small town and back up the belief that adult females were genuinely subjugated to their hubbies. After a twosome is married, the community portions in the rite of their

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consummation and the finding of the miss as a worthy married woman for her hubby. As the community delaies outdoors, the hubby and married woman has sex for the first clip, and find if the miss is a virgin. The household of the groom portion in this by observing a blood stained sheet following this act, and the community supports the finding made by the groom and his household. & # 8220 ; The groom & # 8217 ; s smilings meant that so everything was all right ; the miss was a virgin, the adult male and his female parent were satisfied. If they had non been, the groom had the right to demand that one of her relations kill the bride on the topographic point & # 8221 ; ( 148 ) . No findings must be made sing the position of the adult male & # 8217 ; s virginity and this societal concept underscores the subjection of adult females within the community.

When Fernea and her hubby Bob were introduced at the place of the Arab chief, Fernea was ushered into the room with the hareem and Bob was taken to off to see with the work forces, and at no clip during their visit was the twosome allowed to portion in discourse at the same clip. & # 8220 ; While the work forces sat in one corner, far off from the adult females, the adult females avoided oculus contact with the work forces and even covered their faces with their abayahs whenever the work forces passed near & # 8221 ; ( 45 ) .It comes as no surprise that the same concepts applied when the Arab chief came to their house for tiffin. In kernel, there was no manner of presenting modern American civilization to the Arab chief without doing discourtesy,

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and so the twosome utilized the cognition of their worker Mohammed to show the ways to back up both the imposts and regard for the Arab chief. Pages 95-100 describe a important subdivision of Beeja & # 8217 ; s readying for the visit from the Arab chief and her turning apprehension of the complexness of the civilization. Even in her ain place, Fernea is non allowed to banquet with the Arab chief and her hubby, but alternatively cooks for yearss and allows the Arab chief to be served both tiffin and desert before she can go forth the kitchen for a brief debut.

The Arab chief & # 8217 ; s brief interaction with Fernea and their limited discourse underscores the fact that she recognized the cultural differences and took their civilization into history when sing her feelings following this interaction. It is interesting to observe that Fernea was non every bit much impacted by the Arab chief comments, which were directed as enquiries about her male parent and their construction of her household instead than talk about about herself, but alternatively by what was non said following the repast. It is common in American civilization for invitees and household to congratulate the cook, sharing enthusiasm about the dishes prepared at a repast. But this is non the instance within the societal outlooks of the Iraqi civilization of this small town, and alternatively, it was believed that the excellence of the nutrient was suggested by what was eaten. Fernea wrote: & # 8220 ; I felt allow down and defeated. I suppose I had expected Mohammed & # 8217 ; s to

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remark enthusiastically on the excellence of each dish which we had presented for the Arab chief & # 8217 ; s pleasance. He didn & # 8217 ; t. No one of all time did such a thing, I found out subsequently & # 8221 ; ( 101 ) . Alternatively, the empty platters suggested what dishes were enjoyed, and the less successful nutrients were sent back to the kitchen after the repast.

Though Elizabeth Fernea acted as a respectful invitee within the community of the Iraqi small town and accepted the concepts of their civilization, it was clear that many of their patterns suggested an about incredible degree of female subjection. There was a considerable double-standard within this civilization every bit good as the one described by Abouzeid, and few of the outlooks of adult females were besides expected of the work forces. Alternatively, the history provided by Fernea, known as Beeja to the adult females of the hareem, demonstrates the manner in which antediluvian civilizations have supported the subjection of adult females and the differences that are inherently created when comparing these concepts against western civilization.

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