Palestinian Women: Patriarchy and Resistance in the West Bank

Palestinian Women: Patriarchy and Resistance in the West Bank

Palestinian Women: Patriarchy and Resistance in the West Bank

Palestinian Women: Patriarchy and Resistance in the West Bank

Synopsis

This work provides a case study of the deleterious effects of patriarchy among Palestinians living in rural villages and refugee camps of the West Bank: its negative consequences for men as well as women, for democratization and for progress toward the creation of a more just society.

Excerpt

I've worked since I got married. I love working and I love my job. If I stay at home it's as if I've dropped out of life. Getting out of the house gives me opportunities for different ways of seeing the world. Working is very important for women. It builds character and gives a woman self-esteem…. If my husband told me to stop working I would accept his decision passively and stay at home. I might try to talk with him gently but I wouldn't carry it further than that because I wouldn't want it to reach the stage of divorce. the problem, you see, isn't just between my husband and me; the problem is the whole society. If I were to go to my parents and complain in such a situation, everyone—my father, my brothers, my uncles—would tell me that the issue [of my working] is my husband's responsibility. He is the man of the house. It's his right to make all decisions concerning me, I shouldn't even try to discuss his decision with him, and I should be contented at home. This is not the way I think it should be, but it doesn't matter what I think, it's much bigger than me. Here the norm of male dominance is extremely strong—no matter what class, educational level, social or geographic location, it's the same, and it's overwhelming.

—Rasha, 28, married with three children, camp resident, “moderately religious” Muslim, tawjihi plus two-year diploma

A battered woman couldn't tell any of her friends or neighbors, much less her children, because of the community. We live with the community. I have a sister who was beaten black and blue every day by her husband. Once he pulled all her hair out and once he punched her eye out. Even I didn't know about any of this for many years—he's an educated man. But she was quiet and patient, and little by little, over the years, he began to appreciate her and to behave better with her. If a woman were to speak about violence outside, the man would react even more violently. And, instead of helping him as she should, she would be damaging him by tarnishing his and his family's . . .

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