The topic of male-female dynamics in Muslim society is one of the main issues covered in the book, Beyond the Veil, by Fatima Mernissi. Mernissi covers a wide range of categories, all of which pertain to the female position in a Muslim society. Though much of the data comes from Moroccan society, the general subject matter attempts to describe all Muslim society. This book has two parts, one of which focuses on the traditional view of women, and the second, which focuses on a more modern and changing view of women¡¯s place in society. A fascinating look at women in Muslim society, this book pushes the reader to question previous biases, and take a look at women in a Muslim society from a Muslim perspective.
Beyond the Veil starts out by contrasting views on female sexuality. One view is that of Imman Ghazali, and the other view is that of Sigmund Freud. Ghazali claims that the female sexuality is active, and equal to the male sexuality. Therefore, females need to be restrained in order to prevent fitna (chaos) in the social order. Freud, on the other hand, sees female sexuality as passive, and therefore masochistic. Ironically, both theories attempt to prove the same point: that women, as uncontrollable beings, are destructive to the social order and need to be restrained.
Part two of the book starts out with interviews and data collection from Moroccan society. This information is mostly focused around sexual desegregation. Mernissi¡¯s conclusions basically say that the traditional/older generation is more sexually desegregated, while the more modernized/younger generation encourages desegregation. She also points out that rural societies are more sexually traditional than urban societies.
This book reveals much about Muslim society in a simplified manner. Mernissi draws her writings from various sources, including historical viewpoints, other writers on the topic, and interviews with Muslim women.
Beyond the Veil is not simply a one-dimensional view of male-female dynamics in Muslim society. The book covers all aspects of relationships between males and females, as well as the various positions women can take in a Muslim society. Mernissi allows for the reader to look three-dimensionally at the Muslim society, especially in regards to sexual space boundaries and desegregation, and form his or her personal opinion about the topic. Mernissi makes it somewhat simpler for the reader to understand the goals of the book by outlining the various dimensions as well as writing conclusions that draw from the section but also incorporate other ideas.
The objective of this book, explaining male-female dynamics in Muslim society, was quite clear and the writings of Mernissi certainly operationalized that objective. A non-fiction book that relied heavily on breakdowns of various interviews, Beyond the Veil, was more analytic than descriptive. However, this was an extremely effective way of scrutinizing the subject at hand. The information provided in the book would be particularly significant to those who are not familiar with Muslim society and wish to learn more about the ways in which males and females interact in this society.
Beyond the Veil explained many things to me, including the reasons behind female desegregation in Muslim society. Mernissi is thorough in her dissertation of male-female dynamics, and encourages the reader to form his or her own opinions about the topic. Beyond the Veil is a captivating look at the past, present, and future positions of women in a deeply complex Muslim society.