Sexuality and Orientalism the Purpose Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

This statement is about how they are surpassing cultural barriers. From this point-of-view their gesture is one against racism.

Other then that it is safe to say that the lovers of belly dancing are performing the act in an area which has absolutely nothing to do with politics. Women may view it as an art and a cultural manifestation, but as they perform it they most likely do think about the War on terror which heir country started against the Arab ones.

A third issue that we are going to discuss is represented by the veil. Many Arab countries have their women wearing the veil. According to the western world the Islamic one is a highly patriarchal one. The western society is patriarchal as well but women enjoy if not a bigger degree of freedom at least a greater illusion of it. In other words the western society perceives the Arab one as a place where the male dominance is extreme. Women are treated as if they were mere objects in the property of men. They are oppressed and suppressed. From this point-of-view, the veil hiding the woman's face is nothing but a symbol of this oppression.

But the speech regarding this issue can become even more complex. The Arab countries are rich and benefit from important natural resources which make them wealthier and which are extremely desirable for the people in the west. Under these circumstances it is easy to understand why the western society might be looking for any weak points or aspects which they could condemn. Under these circumstances the veil becomes not only a sign of oppression but also a factor which demonstrates how backward the Arabs are.

If a woman wears a veil she is doing nothing but obeying the wish of an an. The man is jealous and possessive of his woman, that is of his property. Therefore from an Arab perspective interpreted in Western key the Arab woman who wears the veil is weaker than the man. Other voices however claim that the Arab men who have their women wear the veil are the weak ones. Not only are they weak, but also backwards. Freedom, especially freedom of women is associated with evolution and social progress. In not allowing women to go around without the veil Arab men are preventing their own society from progress.

From this point-of-view it is easy to understand why there is so much fuss about the Arab women who wear the veil. Abolishing the veil would actually mean allowing for the Arab countries to move a step forward in the direction of progress. When wearing the veil women are denied of the freedom and power to decide for themselves. As a veil wearer the Arab woman in not an equal companion for her husband. She is not a partner but a slave. The veil does not protect her but hide her beauty. The man needs to hide the physical beauty of his property in order to prevent other men from wanting it. Or at east this is how it seems. And the woman has nothing to say about it. From an early age she is educated to believe that it is God who wants things to be in that manner and that in respecting this custom she will manifest her respect for god. However she does not benefit from the freedom to walk away from this religious truth.

The veil marks a very harsh division between sexes. And it is tradition which has imposed it. Despite all the pressure and the controversy the veil still resists. From this point-of-view it can be stated that it is tradition which resists. It is easy to understand under these circumstances why westerners might hate it. The more controversy the veil causes, the more its power as a cultural symbol becomes. As western countries try to prevent the Arab women from wearing the veil, the more they get attached to it because it is a symbol of their cultural identity, forgetting all about its connotations regarding oppression and submission.

If a woman covers her face or turns her face in the presence of a man then it means she fears him. This is obviously normal behaviour. who should be blamed? The woman for being savage or the man for being potentially dangerous? The contradiction arises from the shocking difference of status between men and women (based solely on gender!) .

All in all it can be said that the veil and belly dancing are factors and social realities which can be clearly associated with the Middle East. Their impact in the oriental and the western cultures is important through the controversies it gives birth to at the present moment. The reasons for which these controversies arise are partly connected to the matter concerning gender. Gender determine status and has various advantages ad disadvantages that come with it. This is a social reality which is applicable all over the world and not only in the oriental society. The dynamics of social relations between men and women obviously has power as the stake. Some might argue that the veil and belly dancing are only another proof regarding the power that men have upon women, but both elements have acquired further and more profound connotations in the contemporary world.

Bibliography:

Ahmed, L. The discourse of the veil in Veiling, representation and contemporary art

Maina, S. Belly dancing: Arab face, Orientalist Feminism and U.S. Empire in Project Muse

Najmabadi, a. Beyond the Americas, Are gender and sexuality useful categories of historical analysis?

Said, E. On Orientalism, retrieved March 5, 2010 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwCOSkXR_Cw&feature=PlayList&p=8C93244F68B45A8D&index=6

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