Theme of in the Land of Invisible Women

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Olivia M. Woods
Mr. Lawman
Advanced English II
15 March 2013
In the Land of Invisible Women

The main theme of Qanta Ahmed’s memoir is the ongoing tensions between the Saudi men and women. Unlike most other societies, the differences between men and women in Saudi society are extreme, especially because of the way the women are degraded. The first way women are dehumanized is their mandatory veiling. Women are not allowed to operate any type of vehicle, which is the next way they are debased of their rights. Most men ignore women, refuse to consider their opinions, and regard them beneath them as the final step of corruption. . These ideas come together to show the immense pressures present among the men and women of the kingdom.

When Qanta arrives in the kingdom she knows her experiences there will be very different from the life she has known in the U.S. Though she knows about the oppressive rules governing life in Saudi Arabia, Qanta is unprepared for how they impact her feelings. She says that “while these veils conceal women, at the same time they expose the rampant, male oppression which is their jailor” and she is deeply disturbed by what abbayahs symbolize in Saudi society and struggles to adapt to wearing one. Later she states that “during the day, or in public, these women not only veiled their beauty and their clothes in those black abbayahs, they veiled their spirits, their souls, their joie de vivre.” The main reason Qanta has a hard time with the required veiling is the fact that the archaic practice stands at such a contrast with the technology and modernity she sees all around Riyadh. Also, women are forced to wear black veils all year round, even in the summer when the average temperature is 115 degrees. On the other hand, men wear cooler, slightly more modern, white throbes and can wear khakis and dress shirts and even shorts and t-shirts in public while women would not be caught dead with more than their faces showing....
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