In “Size 6: The Western Woman’s Harem”, Fatema Mernissi, a middle aged Moroccan woman, ventures into an American department store, only to find a stuck up saleswoman who seems to be degrading her because of her size. The woman tells Mernissi that the high end department stores only carry up to a size 6, and that that is the norm in America. Mernissi explains to us that in her hometown of Morocco, the men drool over her “generous hips”; while in America, men seem to like women who look like “adolescent girls”. Mernissi elaborates on this idea and goes into detail about how the people in this country allow others to create this standard and have the power to make a person keep a close eye on his or her own physical appearance simply for the satisfaction of others.
The title of this article alone gives us an idea of the extremity of the situation Mernissi is facing. The fact that she is comparing our society’s expectations of women’s bodies to an environment such as a harem is enough evidence in itself that she believes these expectations are crude and uncivil. Going deeper into Mernissi’s article, she states “being frozen into the passive position of an object whose very existence depends on the eyes of its beholder turns the educated modern Western women into a harem slave”. Mernissi puts the blame not only on the men in our society, but on the women being affected by it as well. People in our society are so shocked by the ways of the Middle East, but women here are demeaning themselves by trying to be something they’re not to aesthetically please others, and sacrificing their own happiness to lose weight or dress a certain way. Unfortunately, a story such as the one Mernissi tells us is not uncommon in the United States. Being born and raised into an American society, we tend to become accustomed to the way we do things as a whole. The majority of us learn the same set of laws, rules, taboos and standards that we have...
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