Sultana’s Dream

“By and by I was enjoying the scenery. Really it was very grand. I mistook a patch of green grass for a velvet cushion. Feeling as if I were walking on a soft carpet, I looked down and found the path covered with moss and flowers” (Hossain 8).

“‘But we do not rust our Zenana members with embroidery!’ she said laughing, ‘As a man has not patients enough to pass thread a needle hole even!'” (Hossain 10).

This first passage stood out to me simply because of its descriptions. The descriptors such as “velvet,” “soft,” and “covered with moss and flowers” seem very stereotypically feminine. I find this significant because of Hossain’s purpose. The purpose for writing this feminist piece is to switch the social roles of the sexes (by this I mean roles of house work verses those more respected and paid roles that require an education). By doing so, she forces the audience to recognize how unjust  the social roles of the sexes are in reality and how women are capable of taking on the same roles of men, putting them on an equal level. It would seem then, by using these feminine descriptions and ascribing to constructed gender roles (by this I mean stereotypes such as all girls like pink and all boys like blue) that Hossain would injure her argument. For socially constructed genders roles are what helped lead to the division of sexes to begin with, so in order to achieve inequality, one must deconstruct them. However, as the story continues and Sister Sara makes exclamations about the men such as the one that she made about the needle work, it becomes quite clear that she is mocking society’s gender roles. Her exclamation about men not having enough patience is clearly ludicrous and insulting to men as is the idea that men are animals that are unable to control themselves. Sara’s way of thinking about and exclamations of gender roles are essential because they show how harmful they may be to a society. Using the same gender roles that exist in Hossain actual society  is also crucial because it shows how any person in power can use them to either promote or denote the status of a sex, supporting the idea that they should not exist at all.

Hossain, Rokeya Sakhawat. “Sultana’s Dream.” Sultana’s Dream: A Feminist Utopia and Selections from The Secluded Ones. Ed. Roushan Jahan. New York: The Feminist Press, 1988. 7-18. Print.

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