Artifact Analysis Summary
For my paper, I analyzed an image of Circassian women making food in a kitchen. The main question the arose from this picture was: “How does this picture represent the roles of women in Middle Eastern society and how does this differ from our Western views?”
I began my paper simply by describing what I saw in the picture. Several women were shown, some wearing traditional clothes and others wearing contemporary clothes. The image shows the craft and concentration that these women put into their cooking. The main thing that stood out to me when looking at this picture was that there were no men. Most Middle-Eastern societies are considered “‘neopatriarchal’… which mean[s] a set of cultural norms, and social relationships predicated on the male breadwinner-female homemaker role,” according to an article we read for homework by Valentine Moghadam. I noted that the most probable reason for my noticing this (I have a Western point of view) was that in our American culture we are constantly bombarded by feminist media. Although noticing the lack of men in the picture was my first observation, I didn’t think anything negative of the image. Women’s identities are formed by what they do in their life and, in the case of this image, the culture around them (in their case, the cooking oriented culture of the Circassians).
From here I also noted that a woman taking on the role of homemaker (cooking, cleaning, raising children) is not wrong for a woman to want. However, in some cultures, gender roles are frowned upon and therefore disagree with the type of culture that dominates the Middle East. I found in my research that while the country of Jordan is run with patriarchal social “rules,” most women there are very protected, happy, and even well respected.
Returning to my original question about the representation of women’s roles in the Middle East, I decided that this picture represented these women well, and it wasn’t anything that we (people of a Western culture) should be bothered by. Their culture is normal for them and they are happy with their lifestyles. I also commented on the fact that religious beliefs play a huge role in shaping one’s identity. If someone is truly dedicated to their faith, any aspects (that some might define as restrictions and oppressive) do not bother them and they would be happy to comply, believing that what they are doing is right.
I finally discussed how the women in this patriarchal culture are capable of (and often times responsible to) carrying on some of the most artistic and beautiful traditions of their culture, and what an honor it is to them to do so. This is shown in the picture with the women carrying out their craft of making their traditional food. As a global citizen, we are responsible to have an open mind and accept what others believe. I concluded with the idea that women should always be respected and uplifted, no matter what role she decides to take in life.