Oppression of Women

The creation of superstitions and the spreading of ignorant backward beliefs of family traditions, the inherited faulty systems of order along with servitude, the tradition of 'father power' in the community, the lack of psychology, all weave themselves together like a spider's web. And it is this very web which impoverishes the woman within itself. She becomes known as 'someone who is behind the curtain'. All of this occurs in the name of Islam, in the name of religion, in the name of tradition and worst of all, in the name of 'similarity to Fatemeh'.

It is explained to her in terms of chastity and the necessity to nourish her children. I don't know how a person who is herself incomplete and useless, who is missing a part of her brain and who is excluded from literacy, books, education, discipline, thought, culture, civilization and social manners could possibly be worthy of being the nourisher of tomorrow's generation.

Most probably they mean fattening their bodies when they say nourishing their children. What can this weak creature of the house, born to sit behind a curtain without thought or culture, who has not been educated, do for the development of her child? How can she develop her child's sense of completeness? Can she awaken the depths of the spirit within the person? How can she learn to accept the complicated ideas and feelings of her child?

What can she do other than nurse her child and change her baby's diapers? In disciplining her child she can only swear at it or use lewd language or cry or scream or curse her fate. If none of these have any effect, she strikes the fear of an older brother or the father within the child. If this doesn't work, she calls upon the jinn and the angel of death or threatens the basement or the well.

Yes! These are the ways and means of educating and disciplining a child in a system where the only duty of a woman is to nourish her children. It is perfectly natural to think that if she spent her time making use of her cultural and social abilities, if she were to become part of civilization, she would not be able to perform her special mandate which is to bring up children. If she were to develop and nourish her thoughts and her spirit and become aware of the system she is part of, some would obviously conclude that her mandate would suffer.

Thus we see the fate of women in our traditional, conservative society which has had false undertones of religion added to it. She grows up in her father's home without breathing any free air. She goes to her husband's home (her second lord and master) in accordance with an agreement which is made between a buyer and a seller. She is transferred to her husband's house where the marriage license or ownership paper shows both her role and her price. She becomes a respectable servant. A married man means someone who has a servant who works in his house. She cooks food, nurses babies, watches the children and sees to the cleaning and ordering of the house. She manages the inside of the house.

Compiled From:
"Fatemah is Fatemah" - Ali Shariati, pp. 131-135

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Century Welfare Association

Let Our Deeds Speak For Us.

Founded January 1969