Feminism, East and West

Leila Ahmed and Herbert Bodman discuss Western notions about women in the Middle East and the Islamic world in the 1980s. Where do these ideas originate and are the perceptions accurate? What is the status of feminism in the Middle East? Must women in the Middle East choose between cultural and sexual identities? Topics range from the wearing of a veil, stereotyped versus actual nature of Middle Eastern harems, and what holy texts say about women, including polygamy, inheritance, and modesty. They discuss Islamic law, women’s rights, and feminism through the lens of events in 1983.

At the time of this interview, Ahmed, a Fellow at the National Humanities Center (1982-83), was professor of English at the University of Massachusetts. Bodman was professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This edition of Soundings was conducted by Wayne J. Pond.

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