.. stic religion, in enunciating the principles relating to the role and position of women in life, as we have seen, drew inspiration and guidance from the value of the 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 landowership. 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 demeans 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 birth field and home without expecting any payment in return apart from their keep. Their lot was that of unpaid labourers no better off than slaves (El Saadawi.
1980, p. 111).” As much as we want to fault religion for such dehumanizing acts, this is not the case. Yes, religion does devalue women, but it does not state that women should not have any pleasure nor should she be circumcised. These are organs and flash that God has created in women. In a sense, “religion is most often used as an instrument in the hands of economic and political forces, as an institution utilized by those who rule to keep down those who are ruled (El Saadawi.
1980, p. 4).” Women were seen no better than cattle as they brought and sold as such. Fathers sold their daughters to the highest bidder. In a way, women don’t really care who they are sold off too, sexually they feel nothing. Once these females were sold into marriage, the husband had full control over them.
How were women to object to such oppression within a male dominated society? It is quite evident that they could not fight back. The idea that they are the weak, useless, sinful and most incomplete gender has been a constant reminder to them that they live in a dictatorship of men. From the time that they are young girls, the fact that sex is sinful is drummed into them. “The child therefore is trained to suppress her own desires to empty herself of authentic, original wants and wishes linked to her own self, and to fill the vacuum that results with the desires of others (El Saadawi. 1980, p.
13).” Furthermore, before she reaches the stage of becoming a woman, she is succumbed with the fact that she will go through the process of circumcision. “A girl who has lost her personality, her capacity to think independently, and to use her own mind, will do what others have told her and will become a toy in their hands and a victim of their decisions. Religion, therefore, is interwoven with the patriarchal system and landownership. It provided laws and regulation solely upon women that was reinforced by man. Women were obligated to be chaste, virginal, obedient and faithful to their husband. “The development of private property which reinforces the ‘ passions of acquisitiveness and ownership’ and the development of the patriarchal society, the husband began to demand complete fidelity of his wife (El Saadawi.
1980, p. 117).” This is a long age double standard throughout history. Males coerce these rules upon women, yet they do not have to abide by the same rules. They are set free of these puritan standards because they are the authoritative figure within society and they are “enslave the sexual code of chastity and sexual rectitude for the females (El Saadawi. 1980, p. 111).” Those women who are believed to be guilty of breaking these codes could be subjected to numerous consequences, such as death and torture. The immediate consequence of circumcision causes the oppression of women that get a sense of powerlessness.
They have no power to governor their own lives. They must live under the direct rule the male dominated society. They have no sense of who they are and what they can accomplish because they are brainwashed by the religious and patriarchal figures. They see themselves as the weaker sex filled with great evil, and evil that will always be imbedded within her. She is also seen as incomplete and lacking without her male counterpart.
This leaves a long and grave affected on the morale, mental, physical, emotional as well as the spiritually factors of a woman. She is forever seen as an object, a thing no better than an animal. In turn, these ideas are handed down throughout generations, to every female born. It is a never-ending cycle that dehumanizes women into believing that God made them sinful and incomplete. Furthermore, it is made to believe that with the divinity of God, for males who are made in His image, to have total control over them, for their well being.
In many ways, women (mothers and wives) are exploited. They are to carry numerous vital functions, such as to clean, wash, cook, give birth (preferable to male children), nurse, teach and satisfy their husbands’ sexually appetites for which she is not paid. “She is therefore the lowest paid labourer in existence and therefore man pays her the lowest wage known for any category of human being of burden (El Saadawi. 1980, p. 143).” The long-term effect of this oppression is a sense of powerlessness.
Women go on to believe that there is no difference between themselves and cattle. They have neither say in the political, social, economic nor the religious spectrum of society. Women are not given the choice to feel anything sexually. Many of them are fighting for emancipation, which is a right that women established in the United States in the early 1900s. Furthermore, women are trying to break away from tradition; however, they are finding it extremely difficult. How can they succeed, when their society strongly dominated by religion, tradition, and customs and managed by a male dictatorial environment? Men still have the belief that such as break from tradition would only lead to women losing their chastity and honor. According to El Saadawi (1980), as a result of this confined view of women, women only construed 9% of the labor force in 1976 (p. 185).
Overall, “the oppression of women in any society is in its turn an expression of an economic structure built on landownership, systems of inheritance and parenthood, and the patriarchal family as an in built social unit (El Saadawi. 1980, p. 4).” Times are changing and we are in a new millennium. Many would assume that equality within the sexes and races would exist already. However, that is not the case.
There is such a great amount of tradition and customs that is quite difficult to break away from. We need more people I m the world that are willing to take a stand for what they believe in such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Mother Teresa, etc. Bibliography Bibliography El Saadawi, Nawal. (1980). The Hidden Face Of Eve; Women in the Arab World.
New York; St Martin Press, Inc. Political Issues Essays.