Veiled Sentiments Essay

1240 Words Mar 11th, 2008 5 Pages
VEILED SENTIMENTS
Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society
(Critique)

The book, Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society, by author and anthropologist, Lila Abu-Lughod, who is best known for her work on women's issues in the middle east, presents two years of fieldwork in Egypt among the Awlad' Ali Bedouin community who have gone from living a nomadic lifestyle , a farming system where animals are transported from one area to another in search for fresh grazing land, to living in villages where smuggling, raising animals, and doing odd jobs are ways of supporting themselves. In the book, Abu-Lughod brings together the concepts of structure, hierarchy, ideology, and discourse to illustrate the Bedouin culture, and how the
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(p.79)"
When reading Veiled Sentiments, I got the impression that the existing social hierarchy among the Awlad' Ali was based on gender, age, wisdom, and wealth, "Women are always dependent," and "…the powerful have obligations and responsibilities to protect and care for the weak. The weaker members epitomized by the helpless infant, and by extension all children. (p.80-81)" Abu- Lughod did a good job depicting the ways that the social hierarchy works, by including terminology such as wliyya, and by vividly describing situations where women, and children seemed weaker than the adult males in the community, who in most situations appeared to be the head of households. The author also goes further into the ideals of the Awlad' Ali by discussing the relations between female modesty (hasham), "natural inferiority", and sexuality. She depicts the ideal woman in the eyes of the Bedouin people, describing her as soft spoken, and "well-behaved," and with no open thoughts on sexuality. Apart from discussing the importance of hasham in a woman, Abu- Lughod points out that emotion of love and affection between men and women is a taboo. Men that show emotion towards a woman are seen to be weak and are shunned upon by their male peers, as well as women in the community. "Women claim, for instance, that "real men" control all their dependents and beat their wives when the wives do stupid things ( p.89)". In…