Gender in the Middle East

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This paper shall now examine the concept of patriarchy as it operates within the family and the state. Specifically it will answer the question: how does patriarchy impact on the women, the family, and the state? Examples in relation to Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia will be included in this discussion. First, an overview of the concept of patriarchy will be presented, followed by a discussion on the background of patriarchy in the Middle East. Patriarchy in relation to women and the family in the Middle East shall then be discussed. Patriarchy within the state shall follow such discussion. A conclusion will summarize and provide an overall evaluation of the article.
Patriarchy refers to a system wherein the main authority figure is the father in the family, and in the case of social, political, and business organizations, the male leaders1. Within the political context, patriarchy can also refer to the centralized roles held by the ruler of the state over constituents or members. This situation would imply that fathers have full authority over women and children and the women are subordinated to such power2. In the traditional system, this patriarchal application has been seen in the social, legal, and political settings, not just in the Asian culture, but the Western traditional culture as well. Traditionally, leadership is associated with physical strength and males are physiologically built to be stronger than their female counterparts3. Hence, the responsibility of caring for the family and later the state has been burdened on men. The foundations of patriarchy are built on such premise.
The Middle East region has traditionally been a patriarchal society. Its larger area, the Mediterranean region has housed three religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam4. At present, Islam is the dominant religion in the Middle East.