Fadia Faqir's Pillars of Salt and Leila al-Atrash's A Woman of Five Seasons

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Fadia Faqir's Pillars of Salt and Leila al-Atrash's A Woman of Five Seasons The portrayal of the Arab woman has always been through several different perceptions. Some believe that these women are weak, dependant and victims of a hyper patriarchal tradition and culture. They live their lives as if caged from one man to another. First it is their father and brothers and then their husbands and sons. It is true that Arab women do live within patriarchal traditions and cultures but the same can be said for majority of the women around the globe. A much more accurate perception can come only through the realization that what popular Western concepts conceive as women liberation and independence does not necessarily apply to every women around the world. One must understand the culture, religion and traditions and history of a people to know what their ideas regarding concepts such as liberation and independence are. In the west for example women were allowed to vote relatively recently compared to Muslim women who were allowed to vote over fourteen hundred years ago, the same could be said for owning businesses and property and the right to a career. One of the most popular beliefs in the Western world today regarding oppression is that women in Arabia are sexually controlled by their men. This has been brought about especially by the concept of the Hijab as being one of the channels to control women’s sexuality and freedom. It can be argued that in various cases this is true but one cannot commit such a grave injustice and put all Arab women under one umbrella and stamp them as sexually oppressed. The fact is that the Middle East is a region where many states, cultures and identities exist. The novels that we have read are a refl... ... middle of paper ... ...nary’s removal to the government, is where her victory lies. Whereas the relationship between Maha and Harb is one of passion and love, Ihsan and Nadia are the complete opposite. Nadia hates how Ihsan looks at her as a woman always and never a person. She struggles to prove her capability of being an individual and forming an identity of her own that is separate and goes beyond Mrs. Natour. She proves that she can ‘think and feel’ for herself and by herself. In the West where we have women out on the streets rallying for equality between men and women, fighting in the armies, present in the workforce, these victories may seem minute. However if one pays close attention to social structures and social norms in different cultures one can realize that this challenging and questioning is as important and holds as much weight as getting equal wages for women in America.

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