Middle Eastern Women

1304 Words6 Pages
In the 1950's, a newly married American women named Elizabeth Warnock Fernea accompanied her new husband for a two year stay in the small rural village of El Nahra located in Southern Iraq. This book encapsulates her different experiences of the town social agenda, while her husband an anthropologist gathers data in the community. Her adjustment into her new surroundings was quite difficult, simply because she lived in a mud hut that had no indoor plumbing for running water and toilets, she didn't know the language all that well, and was not accustomed to the different local ways of life. By accepting the different custom of dressing in the all black veils like the women in the harem, which fits in with the beliefs of the local conservative Islamic community, she was able to then interact with the different women located in town. Besides these women of the town and her husband she was not to speak to another male, because women's interaction with men is strictly forbidden. There was one exception to this idea for Elizabeth, a servant named Mohammad that was provided by the Sheik to help deal with the different Arabic ways. It is here in Nahra, a known polygamous society, where there exists no social communication between the different sexes and the actions of the women are watched and maintained with great detail. For Elizabeth, her participation in certain events within the town were limited, but as time passed and her acceptance grew it slowly changed. She was able to visit other women within the town, where they drank tea, smoked cigarettes, and chatted about life and one another's different customs. It took a great deal of time for Elizabeth to be accepted by the different women, it took a great deal of months and ... ... middle of paper ... ... have not been clever enough to remain the only wife, and so they pretend that whatever they have is good. Women will always fight and quarrel and be discontent if the man is not strong enough to give each of them what she needs and wants from him (Fernea 170)." These women of Arab marriages, "Purchase charms to make cruel husbands kind, indifferent ones loving, to prevent divorce, to keep new babies safe from the Evil Eye. But more than any other single thing, they prayed, purchased charms, connived against being supplanted by a second wife (Fernea 162)." When couples are married, it is expected that the women would be a model wife and be able to produce a child if not many. "For a model wife stayed at home, cared for her children and for her house, prepared good food for her husband and his guests, and kept out of sight of strangers (Fernea 50)." As noted.
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