Free «Gender» UK Essay Paper
Table of Contents
Most women in the third-world countries experience male dominance, which significantly restricts their rights. They face numerous internal and external problems. The aim of the paper is to determine the issues experienced by women who dare to protest against the injustice. Besides, reasons forcing some women from these communities to resist changes are studied, as well. Most third-world countries are characterized by strong traditions, which are patriarchal in nature; therefore, the society, in general, opposes any initiatives of females to change their role. Such activists experience the physical and mental abuse, loss of the family support, and deterioration of the reputation in the society.
The Analysis of Women’s Problems
Woman’s problems depend on the place of residence, income, social status, and even age of a female. Particularly, women living in Sub-Saharan African countries have to accept polygamy and legal restrictions but they have some autonomy. Meanwhile, women living in some Asian countries and the Middle East do not possess any control over their lives at all (Kandiyoti, 1988, p.278). Women lack “productive property, inheritance rights” or even the right to work (Kandiyoti, 1988, p.278). In these regions, the male dominance is obvious, and it restricts the rights of females.
Apart from external problems, women also face internal issues. Thus, they frequently suffer from “isolation, loneliness or insecurity” (Sa’ar, 2001, p. 723). Females are not able to get intimate with people they love. Amalia Sa’ar (2001, p.724) believes that women are at risk of weakness and loneliness because of being not able to get any power. In the progressive world, being inspired by ideas of democracy and equality, some women try to change the position of females in their communities. However, they face a harsh resistance from the patriarchal society.
Women Challenging Gender Expectations
Women challenging the existing gender expectations of their societies face the physical and mental abuse, the loss of the family’s support, and worsening of the reputation in the society. The cases of physical and mental abuse are particularly common in Palestinian families. For example, the natal family may assert that such an active woman is nothing and does not deserve their support. There are also cases when brothers and fathers abuse the body and personal space of the women. Moreover, both too weak and too strong females are considered fighters against the existing gender expectations who endanger the traditional family setup. On the other hand, the high frequency of abuse in Palestinian families might be explained by the more active behavior of these women as compared to females living in the Middle East or Sub-Saharan African countries. Unlike women from other countries, Palestinian females are active fighters. For example, they can work, study, choose a partner, and make serious decisions about their own life and one of their children (Sa’ar, 2001, p. 732). In their turn, Sub-Saharan African females protest vocally or by refusing to communicate and cooperate with their spouses (Kandiyoti, 1988, p.276). In other words, females living in classical patriarchy choose passive resistance. They offer men their obedience in exchange for support (Kandiyoti, 1988, p.283). Therefore, physical and mental abuse is common for active fighters for female rights.
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Besides, women challenging the traditional gender expectations lose the support of their families. For example, females that decide to get divorced due to the husband’s violence are highly unlikely not receive any approval from the family. Men also do not provide support to women willing to work. Moreover, other family members start demanding money and humiliating working females. Therefore, as a rule, housewives enjoy a greater support from men and society, in general, than female breadwinners. The reason for such an attitude is the unexpected, thus improper, balance of weakness and strength. Neither a too weak nor a too strong woman enjoys the support of her family.
However, the greatest issue is the loss of reputation in the respective community. If a woman decides to get divorced and has a small child, she is called a bad mother and a prostitute; thus, her offspring is likely to be taken away from her. Furthermore, almost any unusual behavior may deteriorate the female’s reputation. For example, making decisions regarding finances or a choice of a partner can also endanger the good name of a woman. At the same time, the level of the female freedom in the third-world countries is not the same. For example, women living in South and East countries and the Middle East cannot even work or express their opinions. They are allowed only to raise children and care for their husbands. Any actions beyond maternity would cause the negative reaction of the society. Moreover, Arab husbands would not protect the wife’s dignity in such cases. On the other hand, Sub-Saharan African women have more freedom for resistance. Even if they say something against the existing order, they will not lose their status of a married woman. Therefore, the negative reputation in the society is a common issue for females challenging the existing order.
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The Resistance to Changes
Surprisingly, but despite many benefits that democracy and equality offer women, the majority of females oppose such changes and efforts of activists in the third-world countries. As a rule, they are simply afraid of losing what they have. This explanation is particularly applicable to Sub-Saharan African females, who enjoy at least some autonomy. Females from South and Eastern Asia, as well as the Middle East, do not want to lose their power over daughters-in-law (Kandiyoti, 1988, p.283). Hence, they resist the separation of their nuclear family from the husband’s household. Deniz Kandiyoti (1988, p.282) concludes that women are against of any changes due to the absence of empowerment alternatives. Some Chinese women even commit suicide against improving their rights. Hence, most females desire to secure their current benefits.
Besides, females do not have many options. Thus, Kandiyoti (1988) sees only two variants for women from patriarchal societies. They can either fight for their rights or try to bind their spouse tighter (Kandiyoti, 1988, p.284). Females choosing the second option simply adopt a more traditional behavior. In addition, the article of Amalia Sa’ar (2001) emphasize that any changes lead to problems. When a woman starts to behave more independently, she becomes alone and isolated. Therefore, some females are not ready to experience losses in exchange for expanding their human rights.
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On the other hand, the submissive behavior looks old-fashioned only for people from the West. Uma Narayan (1997) encourages the readers to avoid westernization while judging people from third-world countries. The scholar provides the example of the Indian woman, who did not have any control over her rights and chose submission. Western people should respect the culture of third-world countries and be tolerant to their citizens. Unlike western women, females from developing countries do not have the so significant access to information. Also, some of them do not have enough money, skills, and knowledge to survive on their own. Besides, sometimes, they simply do not know what to do with the new rights due to the lack of education. Finally, obedience is a part of their culture, and it is their price for protection. Therefore, westernization is not a reasonable perspective for assessing the position of these women.
In conclusion, females from the third-world countries face male dominance. Therefore, their society does not tolerate any intentions of women to alter traditional gender roles. Females frequently become victims of the mental and physical abuse, reputation issues, and the loss of the support from their families. At the same time, many women resist the changes since they are afraid of losing what they have. Besides, females do not see proper alternatives and prefer defined gender roles. On the other hand, submission is a part of their culture, and it is disrespectful to apply the western perspective to assessing the position of individuals from third-world countries. Women living there lay down at stake more than most western women do for any feminist initiatives and activities.
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