War, Conflict and Gender Ideologies: Middle Eastern Images and Realities

  • Shadia Edwards-DashtiEmail author


Shadia Edwards-Dashti reflects on the impact of orientalism on the construction of the Middle Eastern woman, which in presenting her as a commodity serves to objectify her. Significant in this is the relationship between patriarchy, orientalism and imperialism, and their intersectionality with religion, culture and the state. Western secular discourse characterises the Middle East by its subjugation and oppression of women (Bryan 2012). Yegenoglu (1998) explores how the West constructs the ‘oriental’ woman and women of the Middle East. Images and representations of women and men are dominated by oriental presumptions and colonial legacies that continue to affect the shaping of gender norms and relations. Edwards-Dashti observes that destruction of the twin towers in New York, now known universally as ‘9/11ʹ, provided the catalyst for a new escalation, building on an already established view—that Muslims in the Middle East were incapable of establishing democratic, secular and egalitarian societies, leaving the Western world responsible for ‘saving’ women in these societies from subjugation to men. Western feminists are, she notes, implicated in the failure to acknowledge that however truncated women’s lives and sphere of operation may be, nevertheless women (in whatever culture, religion, society or geographical region they live) are capable of and do ‘shape their own lives’ in resistance to subjugation and oppression. Yet Western governments have eagerly appropriated and manipulated feminist rhetoric to advance imperialistic designs, starkly illustrated by Edwards-Dashti in the Bush administration’s pretence of a so-called humanitarian and civilising mission to liberate Muslim women. She points to Kurdish women fighting for their own and their compatriots’ lives, rights and personhood as confirming that Muslim women are not lacking in their own agency.


Middle East Muslim Woman Gender Ideology Terrorist Organisation Foreign Policy Objective 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Senior Broadcast Journalist, RTUK NewsLondonUK

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