Sample Term Paper

Words 2,100

The Middle Eastern culture has historically been associated with the oppression of women, and the plight of Arab/Muslim women has become an issue that is often used in the West for political purposes, and sometimes to discredit and stigmatize the entire culture of the Arabs and the Islamic religion. In reality, the struggle for gender equality takes place all over the region including in Israel, where Rabbi Eliezer Schach and other leading non-Hasidic Ashkenazi rabbis bitterly protested in July 1992 the appointment of a woman (Shulamit Aloni) to the Ministry of Education. According to one press account, Schach and the other rabbis stated that Aloni will “lead the children of Israel into apostasy.” Washington Jewish Week, July 23, 1992, p. 3.In the Arab world, the plight of a woman is bleaker and is fraught with many methodological hazards.

The question of patriarchy and its persistence in the Middle East has received a great deal of attention in the scholarly literature (Ahmed, 1992; Barakat, 1993; Moghadam, 1993; Lindholm, 1996; Tohidi, 1996). Studies of the women’s movement and early feminists have also focused on this problem in the Middle East (see, e.g., Nelson, 1996; Badran, 1995; Sanasarian, 1982). Patriarchal beliefs have been part of Middle East history, as they have been in much of the world. It is clear that patriarchal attitudes antecede the emergence of Islam in the area. Although these attitudes have sources beyond a specific religion, religious traditions and practices can sometimes reinforce their main thrust. This has indeed been the case with Islam regarding its patriarchal foundations and practices.

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