Images of women in Yemeni fiction [Archives:2008/1168/Culture]

June 30 2008

Ahmed Ateeq
Reprinted from Ghaiman literary magazine

When we talk about the way that Yemeni society looks at women, we notice how the society in all its groups – both men and women- looks down upon women either through dominance of men or through surrender of women. Consequently, the status of a woman was specified in the family and society as a follower performing her duties assigned by prevailing social customs fulfilling the society and man's desires. We get to know the novelists' view towards women in their literary works and the quality of roles that women play in the narration, as well as the impact of these roles on the social status of women within the society presented in the story. We can do that through analyzing works of Yemeni fiction and the storyteller's view toward women through what he presents to the reader through two main themes as follows:

Theme 1: The storyteller's view toward women:

A literary man is looked at by the society as its examiner for what his works contribute to raising public awareness, pointing the society in the right direction. He writer does this through criticizing situations that the society members-both men and women- live in. The problem consists in this or that writer's lack of wide horizons. The novelist or the writer's view doesn't reflect society's ambitions but rather it implants in the story what is prevalent. We point out here that literature in general and narration in particular deals with women's issues in a way that doesn't offer any positive effect that may reflect the writer's awareness of those issues. In addition, they don't elevate the society's public awareness toward achieving justice and equality.

Woman has always been a subject of love, sex and courtship though not a subject of reason and knowledge. Her image scattered in the books of poetry and literature implies that she was created as minor and incapable, and that her incapability is inherent in her nature. Her existence is baseless without a man since she is his follower and part of his property. Based on this concept, we seldom find the woman warrior in history but, instead, we find the minor and bewailing woman. For example, poetry and courtship are restricted to men whereas the ideal mode of the righteous woman is confined to making elegies, speeches and housework.

In his story “Piles and Flowers