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A Woman's Place is in the Home

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In the past few years, women’s rights became a hot issue in Saudi Arabia, their rights to work, to be treated equally as men, and to be independent. Although Islam provided women’s rights many years ago, women’s rights were forgotten by Saudi people. Lately, women’s voices started to rise and they started to have some of their rights. Driving for example, women were forbidden to drive their own vehicles in the country, and then when the law changed in 2018; women started to have their licenses, and started driving, which is a step forward to women’s right. However, Saudi men and women still do not have equal rights in the society, and some people are looking down to women in some regions of the country. According to Alharbi (2015), men and women do not have equal opportunities to work in Saudi Arabia, and women chances to have jobs are limited in comparison with men. In this paper, a text written in 2013 by a writer called Maisa Alnaji will be analyzed using different levels of analysis, in order to know what kind of beliefs Maisa hides behind the text she wrote.

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Starting from the first stage of analysis, the choice of words in the text is interesting and it shows what the ‘female’ writer Maisa wants to deliver to the reader. The word ‘Disaster’ she used in the title, gives the reader an initial idea of her feeling toward the female workers. Maisa keeps repeating the statement ‘Yes, I have a job’, although she was saying a woman must take her money from her husband, father, or brother, Maisa have a job and have a good salary. In the text, Maisa referred to women as ‘victims’ because of those who call for equality with men, and by victimizing them, she was trying to persuade them to quit their jobs, because ‘ they are not supposed to work’. In the text, she says that she is responsible of the hardest and the most important institution ‘the family institution’, and by choosing the word ‘institution’ she wants the other women to feel that they are actually doing a hard job inside the home so, they don’t need to go out. We should keep in mind, that she claims her role as a ‘mother, daughter, and a wife’ is more important than working, but in fact, she is a ‘working mother, daughter, and wife’, so everything she says is against her believes and reality.

The way the writer of a text refer to someone else can signal the relationship between the participant and the writer (Richardson, 2007). Maisa was referring to men by using the word ‘breadwinner’, she thinks the reason why a woman should not work is the ‘breadwinner’ who must be responsible of her needs, and a woman become a ‘victim’ if the ‘breadwinner’ did not support her and fill her needs for money. She also used Teun van Dijk conceptual tool the ideological square, she has a negative idea of women who work and leave their houses and thei children, but at the same time, she was proud of herself, that she keeps mentioning that she has a job! Maisa keeps reminding the women about the role they play in a family as daughters, mothers and wives, forgetting about women’s’ needs as human beings. The referential strategy occur when she excluded women from their nature as humans who want to live for themselves and included them in other categories as wives or mothers for example who aim to serve their husbands and their children needs. She also claims that our society should have a female doctors, female teachers…etc. From that point of view, she excluded them from being wives and daughters, because their job actually serve her needs as a woman and that what she wants.

According to Richardson (2007), ‘transitivity shows the relationships between participants and the role they play in the processes described in reporting’ (p. 54). In the text, Maisa used the material processes, which is divided into transitive actions and intransitive actions. For example, she said ‘regarding what they call ‘ Women’s Day’ it is an occasion for them to make the woman weaker by reminding her that she is a victim’, we as readers do not know whom she is referring to by ‘they’ and ‘them’ and it makes us wonder and ask ourselves, who are those enemies? Moreover, ‘I have a job’ is an example of the relational process Maisa used in her text.

Presupposition is actually the hidden meaning in the text that the writer tries to deliver to the reader without making it obvious. We can mark the presupposition in Maisa’s text in her use of the Wh-question. In the text, she asked the working women a question ‘Why do you give birth?’ then, she gave answers in term of question saying, ‘is that because you want to hear the word mom?’ ‘Do you give birth to prove to yourself, to your husband and to your society that you are a female?’ and she keeps giving nonsense answers to the question she asked. When Maisa asked the question, she did not want to know how ‘working women’ feel, or what kind of answers they would give, and by asking the question she wanted to hide her thoughts behind a question to make them believe that they are doing something wrong by going to work.

Tropes are used to denote or connote something apart from their ordinary meaning. I will analyze two some tropes in this paper, the hyperbole, and the metaphor. First, the hyperbole, which is defined by Richardson (2007) as an example of excessive exaggeration, made for rhetorical effect. In the text, Maisa used the term ‘running after the salary’ referring to working women, although almost all men are working because they need money. However, she was over reacting against women only. Another example, is when she said, ‘the equality reversed the scales of rights and wrongs in the society’, logically, a working woman does not have the power to change things in the society that they work only to serve their needs without asking help from someone else. The last example I will be discussing regarding the hyperbole is when she said about the working mother that ‘the timing of her job force her to stay outside her home the whole day and leave the media and the streets raise her kids’. Obviously there is no job requires working the whole day, and almost all women work in the morning while their kids are in schools. Maisa is trying to make it a huge issue for women to make them feel guilty by going to their jobs even if they are taking good care of their children. The second trope that I will be analyzing is the metaphor. According to Richardson (2007) definition, metaphor involves perceiving one thing in terms of another. In the text, Maisa said, ‘we are facing in our society a thing that never happened in any other society before, the death of hearts, feelings, kindness, and love’. The word death here is a metaphor to move the reader’s emotions, and to persuade them to quit their jobs in order to save themselves and their children.

To sum up, writers can view their opinion in their words, and the text actually represents its writer notion about a certain idea. Moreover, we can have an inner sight through writer’s thoughts. By analyzing Maisa’s text, we can tell she is totally against the idea of being a working women, but she also confirm that she is a working woman, without telling the reader what are her reasons! In addition, she tried to seem logic by using quotes from Qur’an; however, she only used what confirms her opinion. I personally think a woman should take care of her needs and never ask anyone ‘not even the breadwinner’ to give her money. A woman should be independent and even if she works to get money, no one can blame her because it is her right and this never contradict with Islam as Maisa claims.  

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