Bargaining With Patriarchy: Women’s Subject Choices and Patriarchal Marriage Norms
Dr. Jawaher Alwedinani

This paper discussed the influence of marriage on Saudi women‘s education. The majority of participants agree that marriage is as important as education and careers. According to the interviews, some female students and lecturers support women‘s traditional roles. These participants believe that the home is the natural place for a woman and that being a housewife is a fundamental role for a woman. Thus, they see a woman who cares about her husband as helping him to excel in his work. Additionally, if she takes care of her children, she serves the community better than if she goes to work. It is clear that those participants hold internalised gender roles. Although most of the female participants agree that motherhood is significant for women, they act differently when they have to choose between their studies and marriage. It appears from the participants‘ responses that being a mother and having children are very serious decisions. However, unlike in the past, they no longer look only to marry and have children, as marriage is one of their lesser concerns. The participants were divided into three categories in terms of their attitudes towards marriage. Although most of the participants have internalised traditional marriage norms, their attitudes towards marriage vary greatly. They exercise agency by resisting or bargaining with patriarchal systems. The first category of participants consists of those who resist the patriarchal system by exercising their legitimate Islamic rights. This includes women who ask for a divorce to eliminate the influence of their husband on their education. The second category comprises those who bargain with patriarchal influences by postponing marriage until after they graduate from university. Finally, there are participants who comply with patriarchal norms without negotiating or bargaining. They get married at an early age and accept the influence of their husband on their education. They limit their choices to certain subjects in order to maximise their marriage opportunities. This group of participants mainly studies traditional subjects such as education, as these subjects do not conflict with their family responsibilities. Furthermore, they avoid professions that might require evening-shift hours, such as nursing or medicine.

Full Text: PDF      DOI: 10.15640/ijgws.v5n2a2