Size 6: The Western Women's Harem: Diction

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  • #4224


    In the excerpt by Fatema Mernissi, the author uses diction to provide for a direct relationship between the harem (a confined space within a Muslim household where only children and women may go) and the way western civilization has epitomized beauty for women. She creates the relationship by continuously making references to the harem while telling a story about a time she went into a department store. Using phrases like “no room for discussion” and “a surveillance camera watching us both” highlight how she views American culture as a way women are put down. By comparing the two, highlighted by her word choice, she shows how degrading it can be for women to feel as though they must stay thin in order to keep men happy. She even ends the excerpt by sympathizing for the western women, because at least she can “stage a credible political demonstration” about how her rights are being violated in a harem, but how can a western woman argue protest when no one feels as though there is anything to change?

  • #4274


    I agree with you here, Ivan. In Mernissi’s exceprt she uses her diction to show how the people in America are much more judgemental on how someone looks. When she states “then the saleswoman added a condescending judgment” she compres that to a “imam’s fawta” which is a strict ruling back in Muslim society. Comparing someones statement on how you look to the ruling of a Muslim leader is extremely harsh and judgemental, but a intriguing use of diction. As the excpert goes on the saleswomen shifts her viewpoint on the muslim women. She feels the stress of the American society that makes her want to look thin, and when she hears about how women are viewed in the muslim womens home country she states “she said i should advertise my country as a paradise for women.” Since the sales women is now realizing how judgemental American society is, how does it help her relate more with the muslim women?

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