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Gender Roles In A Saharan Society

1174 words - 5 pages

Thesis: One of the most discussed subjects in modern society is the ideals of beauty. There are different ideas of beauty all over the world. For instance, in America more people finds girls who are skinnier to be more attractive but in Rebecca Popenoe’s Feeding Desire: Fatness, Beauty, And Sexuality among a Saharan People, she studies another culture ideas of beauty, and they are different from ours. We even see in the media what makes a woman beautiful and what doesn’t. However, while investigating this ethnography, I realized that the ideas of female’s beauty affect them in more ways than one and the gender roles in the community of Azawagh are very fundamental. Their religious ideal, their kinship, and their cultures play a huge role in throughout the entire ethnographic report. I will be exploring evidence from the book to show how these gender roles shape and construct the backbone of the Saharan people.

Intro (roadmap): The ethnographic report compares the western ideals to those of the culture that praises fatness as the ideal body type for women. This study, in depth, also addresses the Azawagh Arabs traditions in relation to sexuality and bodily ideals specifically dealing with the female body. The book explains the process involved in fattening the women by feeding them with plenty of cereal in form of porridge and milk. There is a form of immobility feeding employed where movement is discouraged and women confined in tents. This ethnography explains the visual beauty they derive from being fat and the appreciation of their men for this bodily state. The book also explains the social life of the Azawagh and how the women are confined to the community, while the men orbit around them and travel outside. The report goes ahead to explain the relationship between fatness in women and the Muslim religion and how fattening in women enables the Arab women to adhere to the guidelines on morals set by the religion. By rendering women immobile due to the bountiful layers of fat, they are confined to their tents where it is not possible for them to commit immoral acts. Sexuality is the basis for family increase hence must be guarded therefore when girls are of puberty age they are required to wear veils when outside and to preserve modesty in silence which they are taught when still young. This is the veiled logic that the Moors stand by hence enabling them to maintain their dignity and morality. This all encompasses the idea of beauty but how different the lives between men and women are.

Summary of central ideas: The Azawagh’s are very peculiar people when it comes to their ideas behind beauty, gender roles, social order, and lifestyles. Popenoe helps with understanding their customs and puts it into straightforward terms in this study. She breaks the Azawagh’s culture into a couple of central ideas, first she talks about the idea of fattening to become beautiful, spatiality, then there is an importance to kinship within the community,...

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