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Use Of Patriarchy And Religion To Oppress Women

1443 words - 6 pages

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 of the after-effects which is accentuated by other social and psychological factors that influence the personality and mental make-up of females in Arab societies (El Saadawi. 1980, p. 33)."

Due to Circumcision, girls are subjected to a series of pain humiliation because of the notion of how virginity is valued. Many girls believed that the genital was a root of all evil. El Saadawi had many patients, bleeding from infection but happy to get rid of the source of their desire. For example:

"I did not know anything about the operation at the time, except that it
was very simple, and that it was done to all girls for purposes of cleanliness
and purity and the preservation of a good reputation. It was said that a girl
who did not undergo this operation was liable to be talked about by people,
her behavior would become bad, and she would starting running after men,
with the result that no one would agree to marry her when the time for
marriage came. My grandmother told me that the operation had only
consisted in the removal of a very small piece of flesh from between my
thighs, and that the continued existence of this small piece of flesh in its
place would have made me unclean and impure, and would have...

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