Evil, sinful, lover of Satan are just a few adjectives used to describe women throughout history. Nevertheless, women were not always portrayed as so. Women once held a strong and dominated figure within the society. In the ancient Egyptian society, women were equal to men in status and prestige. Within the XVIIIth Dynasty, women such as Nephertiti and Hatchipsoot reign the country "In that period, Pharaonic women labored in textile and carpet manufactory, traded in markets and shared in hunting side by side with her husband (El Saadawi. 1980, p, 108-1)." Furthermore, women played sports, drank, held positions of government, worked, etc. However, as time past and countries began to flourish, there was a shift in the socio-economic status in women. Women began reducing in standing. What Happened? Nawal El Saadawi, author of The Hidden Face of Eve, strongly believes that circumcision is the cause of women's oppression and feeling of powerlessness. However, many within the society believe that conditioned oppression is supported due to religion, landowership and the patriarchal system and they are utilized as in instrument of fear, oppression and exploitation.
Circumcision is still practiced in many Arab countries because a woman's virginity and hymen is extremely important. "Behind circumcision lies the belief that, by removing parts of girls' external genital organs, sexual desire is minimized (El Saadawi. 1980, p. 33)." This procedure is not performed by a doctor but someone similar to a midwife. It is believe that deep incisions must be done in order to remove all the remains of the genital. Consequently, this may result in infection and even death. Furthermore, "sexual frigidity is one ...
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... patriarchal and class societies prevalent at the time. Nawal El Saadawi focuses on the patriarchal system as a major condition for the oppression of women. The shift between man and woman began when men realized the importance of land owership. Man recognized the association between land and having wealth and power. Landownership places them in a higher social, economic and political arena. In acquiring land, man must have someone to cultivate it since it demean their status within the society to do. The oppression of a slave and women became apparent. "Wives were a source of wealth since they shouldered many heavy tasks in both field and home without expecting any payment in return apart from their keep. Their lot was that of unpaid laborers no better off than slaves (El Saadawi. 1980, p. 111)."
Nawal El Saadawi, "The Hidden Face of Eve"
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