An Honorable Death? or a Comparative Study of the Awakening by Kate Chopin and Murder Is a Matter of Honor by Rana Husseini with an Emphasis on Gender Inequities

By Thompson, Katherine | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Summer 2010 | Go to article overview

An Honorable Death? or a Comparative Study of the Awakening by Kate Chopin and Murder Is a Matter of Honor by Rana Husseini with an Emphasis on Gender Inequities


Thompson, Katherine, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Some daughters are bred to be caretakers, obedient simply for the sake of obedience (2)

Introduction

Who cares that a woman educates herself? Who cares that a woman chooses to not have children? Why should a woman accept that she is not capable of making decisions that affect her life, her spirituality? These questions and many more are the right of a woman to ask, even if the society she lives in has no answers. Answers must come and will come from the dedicated work of women and their allies in the fight for gender equality. This paper draws on contemporary Muslim literature to highlight the realities of the Victoria era, which we tend to "sugarcoat" through the lens of time.

Between the two sexes of the human species there are physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual elements that are part of the make-up of the different genders, "mankind" has developed a variety of cultures delineating these elements as either masculine or feminine. One might suggest that this delineation depends upon the vision of the societies' survival, spiritually, intellectually or physically. Thus, from tribes, to kingdoms, to communities and countries, the "mankind" has pre-determined the roles and positions of the sexes in their society. This was and to a certain extent is the case of women in the Western European world, with the essential beginnings of gender equity changes occurring during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), and continuing up to today (3). It is also currently the case in many of the Middle Eastern countries where exposure and voice is being given to making the changes Western European women have instituted and en joy today. Even though women are @49.7% of the world's population (4) and live longer than men, gender equality as considered reasonable and logical is far from being the reality. Without the feminists and their allies doing "battle" to change legislation, the Western woman would be in the same position as the Eastern. This type of "battle" is just beginning for many of the women under Sharia Law. It is only in exploring the idea that the "battle" for gender equality between men and women, as depicted in the novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin juxtaposed with the same battle depicted in Murder in the Name of Honor, by Rana Husseini, reveals the reality that women "bear the brunt" of the societies' restrictions. Nearly one hundred years apart, the women of the West illustrate the outcomes of a continuous struggle for gender equity. This paper will explore the language of Ms. Chopin's novel of 1899 to reveal similar women gender issues to those depicted in Ms. Husseini's non-fiction work. Both authors demonstrate that the concept of "honor" is ultimate goal for societal acceptance, leading both males and females to consider death as the "honorable" method of maintaining their pre-determined roles and positions.

Some daughters grow fat With worry and call that love (5)

The Role of the Victorian Woman

To begin with, Victorian England was seen as the beacon of civilization for the Western world. Industrialization allowed for prosperity and opportunities to achieve some type of wealth. The upper classes continued to accumulate material possessions, the middle class began to acquire them and the working class attempted to emulate both the middle (bourgeoisie) and upper classes to the best of their ability.

The transformation of Britain into an industrial nation had profound consequences for the ways in which women were to be idealized in Victorian times. New kinds of work and new kinds of urban living prompted a change in the ways in which appropriate male and female roles were perceived. In particular, the notion of separate spheres--woman in the private sphere of the home and hearth, man in the public sphere of business, politics and sociability--came to influence the choices and experiences of all women, at home, at work, in the streets. (6)

This "transformation" was also true in the United States as well as in the colonies of the British Empire. …

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