Women in the Middle East During the Late 19th and Early 20th Century

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Women in the Middle East During the Late 19th and Early 20th Century
As a result of Western imperialism circa 1900, throughout the Middle East things began to change. European writers and tourists flooded into Middle Eastern countries and developed a very exoticized view of the men and particularly women who lived there. Ultimately the general consensus was that Middle Eastern women were oppressed by Middle Eastern men. Through the Western lens this perceived oppression was indicative of the “uncivilized” and stunted nature of Middle Eastern society. Western influence was forcefully pervading Middle Eastern society. Imperialism via tourism, travel literature, European schools as well as other vehicles, changed how people both within the Middle East and outside of it would come to view Middle Eastern society. Western education became popular through organizations such as Alliance Israélite Universelle. Alliance Israélite and other similar religiously driven organizations opened very nice schools throughout the Middle East that that offered a western education without religious indoctrination. These schools were loved by the locals and would ultimately force Middle Eastern institutions to compete. With the rise in popularity of western education there were also many who sent their sons abroad to European schools and universities. With this whole generation of western educated Middle Eastern men there came a more heightened western influence on Middle Eastern society as well as an awareness of this influence among Middle Eastern men and women. Through tourism and travel literature amongst other vehicles Western society expressed its views of Middle Eastern society and its perceived short comings.

There were many ways in which people in the Middle East reacted to Western influence. Some embraced the influenced and sought to emulate western society, some abhorred it and would advocate a return to, and preservation of, what they saw as the Middle Eastern way of...
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