The Role of Women and Family in Arab Culture and the Western Understanding

Essay by nyr3214College, UndergraduateA-, November 2014

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Conor Quigley


Fall 2014

The Role of Family and Women in Arab Culture and the Western Understanding

People of the West generally misunderstand the concepts of the family structure of Arabs. Everything from the arrangement of marriages to the raising of children is often questioned and seen as harsh or skewed in approach. Many generalizations are made about the motives for these ways of living, and are often based in ignorance. The importance of family in Arab cultures is amongst the most family centered lifestyles in the world. Compared to the west, Arabs spend much more time amongst and caring for family, and their allegiance to the family and especially the parents is amongst the worlds best.

Arabs take a more traditional and conservative approach to the way in which families come together, especially through the way in which the women are expected to act and are treated. The most common misunderstanding in western culture is the role of women's attire in the Arab world.

Restricting to say the least, the hijab is a way of covering a women to avoid the revealing feminine traits, which are seen as sexually provocative. Everything from hair to skin is considered to be thought provoking which is far from the views of todays Western cultures, namely the United States. The US views this as being oppressive to women, while the intentions of Arab cultures is to to ensure respect for women and maintain civility in public settings.

The freedom of interaction between the sexes is thus more limited. This is a symptom of, as well as a reason for the arrangement of marriages.

It could be argued that the freedoms and interactions between the sexes and in finding a partner is the reason for a now 60% divorce rate in the...