Examining Women And Gender In Muslim Societies
Examining Women And Gender! Read Carefully Manuela Marin, “Women, Gender And Sexuality Note Five Facts Or Observations About The Status, Roles Or Predicaments Of Pre-modern Muslim Women That You Find Surprising Or That You Believe Have Been Misunderstood Among Scholars Or In The West’s Popular Imagination. Write A Short Narrative Explaining The Significance Of These Facts/observations.
Examining Women and Gender in Muslim Societies
In the long sweep of history, there have been fallacious and misguided beliefs regarding the pre-modern Muslim women among scholars and in the West, popular imagination. However, in her essay titled “Women, Gender and Sexuality” Manuela Marin demystifies the roles and social standing of the Muslim women by pointing out some of the central aspects of the Muslim life together with their significance in stabilizing the society. Apparently, a woman is an essential element of the Muslim, and she represents purity, respect, chastity, and honor of Muslim families.
Western popular imagination and academia perceive Muslims, and their religion to a have permissive and negative attitudes towards women and overall matters relating to sexuality. Particularly, they hold that Muslim women are sexually passive and they are mere subjects of masculine domination. The Muslim man in the existing literature is painted out as all-powerful, being singlehandedly responsible in the management of the family system while women are equated with children (Wike and Grim 5). According to Marin, there has been no reliable historical evidence documenting the roles, experiences, and status of women in pre-modern Muslim societies (336). As a result, early scholars were only relying on chronicles, literary works, and biographical dictionaries in forming biased opinions about Muslim women. These beliefs are grounded on the fact that women play minor roles in public life and they are restricted to motherhood.
On the contrary, women are not just second class members of society, but they play vital roles both in public and private life. First, personal status affects how women are treated and perceived among Muslims. Women in urban environments, women played a central role in both social and economic spheres of life, and they were used as markers of moral and political boundaries. Second and third is that veiling and seclusion rules were intended to ensure the dignity of women and their families while visibility in public spaces was subject to strict regulation respectively. Seclusion and veiling served as guardians of religious and social order (Marin 339). Therefore, women were expected to stay at home, avoid meeting with unrelated males, and they were to be veiled every time they appeared in public.
Moreover, restricting women from attending public events and places was not a way of cutting them off from social relationships. They still had a complex web of personal ties in their environment. Lastly, the Muslim society expected its women to be religious, obedient, modest and chaste (Marin 388). It is these values that protected their honor and that of their families. They were not allowed to take any position of authority such as directing community prayers nor take part in politics as this would generate scandals in the community.
Therefore, even though religion plays a significant role in the lives of Muslim women, it is not the sole determinant of their status and position. Before making sweeping generalizations, scholars need to consider other factors such as differences existing among women with respect to their ethnic origins, social and economic circumstances, and personal status in their societies. Women are deemed as wives and mothers, and they protect the dignity of the family unit. The Muslim law regulates all matters relating to marriage, divorce, economic autonomy, polygamy all of which as a potential effect on the lives of women. Therefore, every member of society has rights and obligations which are deemed critical for progress.
Marin, Manuela. “Women, Gender and Sexuality.” In Cambridge Histories Online, Cambridge University Press, 2011: 335-379.
Wike, Richard, and Brian J. Grim. “Western Views toward Muslims: Evidence from a 2006 Cross-National Survey.” International Journal of Public Opinion Research, vol. 22, no. 1 (2010): 4-25.