Wendi Lawson See_FinalResearchPaper

Wendi Lawson See_FinalResearchPaper - Wendi Lawson See...

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Wendi Lawson See EN323 Middle Eastern Literature Spring 2008 Research Paper (Final) “The Powers of the Muted” Atiya Dawood, a Pakistani poet, writes in “The Journey”: The journey of my life begins from home, ends at the graveyard. My life is spent like a corpse, carried on the shoulders of my father and brother, husband and son. Bathed in religion, attired in customs, and buried in a grave of ignorance. 1 This pattern is brutally simple in most parts of the Arab world: women are born to fill the roles of daughter, wife, then mother, to be successively subservient to their fathers, husbands, and ultimately, to sons. Education for women is in most cases regarded as superfluous, few occupations outside the home are open to women, and in most cases the legal status of women is determined by the shari’a (Islamic religious law). In court, a woman’s testimony is worth only half that of a man’s; a husband may divorce his wife without recourse, often by just stating aloud that he repudiates her; he may add wives to his family as often as he desires; and, the laws of many countries permit a husband or father to force his wife or daughter to remain at home, often literally under lock and key. 2 A 1985 Pakistani commission impaneled to investigate the status of women reported: “The average woman is born into near slavery, leads a life of drudgery, and dies invariably in oblivion.” 3 The majority of Muslim women, even in the twenty-first
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century, still find their lives controlled by their closest male relative. A father will determine her future marriage partner and, upon marriage, if she is not obedient to her new husband, he may take another wife, or worse, repudiate her. 4 The purpose of this paper is to show how Arab women writers raise the veil of silence by universalizing the feminist cause and expressing women’s problems in the context of Arab societies. 5 They denounce the strict practices surrounding female sexuality: veiling, seclusion, social segregation, virginity, circumcision and crimes of honor, all determined by local custom. 6 Patterns of marriage, divorce, childbearing and child rearing are all rooted in custom. Popular attitudes towards women’s education and work outside the home are based on custom. Custom dictates a woman’s behavior at every phase of her life, from cradle to grave. Hence, the forces of custom and tradition constitute the most difficult barriers to overcome. 7 But, as this paper will show, when women write, they enter the field of power and knowledge. 8 Women writers in writing about the female experience not only politicize women’s lives but redefine women and transform their status from that of a “symbol” to that of a “real” human being. This idea is not only a revelation but also revolutionary. 9 Saudi writer, Najwa Hashim’s “Fever in a Hot Night” reflects a search for new values that recognizes women as thinking, feeling beings. 10 It begins at birth. The delivery of a baby boy is greeted with profuse congratulations, parties, even celebratory bursts of gunfire.
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This note was uploaded on 05/09/2008 for the course ENG 323 taught by Professor Broyles during the Winter '08 term at American Public University.

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Wendi Lawson See_FinalResearchPaper - Wendi Lawson See...

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