Arab Americans and Gender

Chapter

Abstract

Gender roles and expectations in which the behaviors of women hold substantially more meaning than those of men have enormous importance for Arab Americans. Gender ideas inform a multiplicity of matters of appropriateness, including public behavior, social relationships, education, occupation, health, marriage, and divorce. Nonetheless, as predicted by segmented assimilation theory, not all families are the same and gendered norms may be treated more flexibly in some families and more strictly in others depending on family resources (social class), the social capital (relationships and community) they build in the United States, and their interpretations and management of interactions with the host society. At the same time, assumptions commonly held in American society—such as that wearing hijab (modest clothing, headscarf) symbolizes submission to men or lack of education—ignore the complexities of social belonging and women’s agency that exist around veiling. Gender notions also have a range of implications for the health care status of Arab Americans, while discrimination and prejudice common to the post-9/11 era have exacerbated feelings of marginalization and disempowerment for some Arab Americans. Nonetheless, Arab American men and women surpass the overall American population on a range of measures of success, including educational attainment, median incomes, and occupational prestige, revealing some of the positive impacts of strong family and selective acculturation. Practitioners will be well served by adopting an informed and nuanced approach to Arab American clients.

Keywords

gender segmented assimilation social capital agency selective acculturation 

References

  1. Abu-Lughod, L. (2002). Do Muslim women really need saving? Anthropological reflections on cultural relativism and its others. American Anthropologist, 104(3), 783–790.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ajrouch, K. J. (1999). Family and ethnic identity in an Arab American community. In M. Suleiman (Ed.), Arabs in America: Building a new future (pp. 129–139). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Ajrouch, K. J. (2004). Gender, race, and symbolic boundaries: Contested spaces of identity among Arab American adolescents. Sociological Perspectives, 47(4), 371–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ajrouch, K. J., & Kusow, A. (2007). Racial and religious contexts: Situational identities among Lebanese and Somali Muslim immigrants. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30(1), 72–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aswad, B. (1999). Attitudes of Arab immigrants toward welfare. In M. Suleiman (Ed.), Arabs in America: Building a new future (pp. 177–191). Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Aswad, B. (2005). Family relations: The United States. In S. Joseph (Ed.), Encyclopedia of women and Islamic cultures (pp. 147–151). Leiden, NL: Brill.Google Scholar
  7. Aswad, B., & Bilge, B. (Eds.). (1996). Family and gender among American Muslims: Issues facing Middle Eastern immigrants and their descendants. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bartkowski, J. P., & Read, J. G. (2003). Veiled submission: Gender, power, and identity among evangelical and Muslim women in the United States. Qualitative Sociology, 26(1), 71–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bird, C. E., & Rieker, P. (2008). Gender and health: The effects of constrained choices and social policies. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brittingham, A., & de la Cruz, G. P. (2005). We the people of Arab ancestry in the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.Google Scholar
  11. Cainkar, L. (1988). Palestinian Muslim women in the United States: Coping with tradition, change, and alienation. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.Google Scholar
  12. Cainkar, L. (1996). Palestinian women: A generational perspective. In B. Aswad & B. Bilge (Eds.), Family and gender among American Muslims (pp. 41–58). Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Cainkar, L. (1999). The deteriorating ethnic safety net among Arabs in Chicago. In M. Suleiman (Ed.), Arabs in America: Building a new future (pp. 192–206). Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Cainkar, L. (2000). The Iraqi community in Chicago. Washington, DC: The Iraq Foundation Community Assessment Project.Google Scholar
  15. Cainkar, L. (2004). Islamic revival among second-generation Arab Americans: The American experience and globalization intersect. Bulletin of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies, 6(2), 99–120.Google Scholar
  16. Cainkar, L. (2009). Homeland insecurity: The Arab American and Muslim American experience after 9/11. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation Press.Google Scholar
  17. Cainkar, L. (2011, August). The role of transnational selective acculturation in American being, belonging, and success. Paper presented at the Annual American Sociological Association Meetings, Las Vegas, NV.Google Scholar
  18. Cainkar, L., & Del Toro, S. (2010). Barriers, resources, and best practice strategies for working with domestic violence cases in Arab and Muslim American communities. Chicago: Arab American Action Network.Google Scholar
  19. Coleman, J. S. (1990). Foundations of social theory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Du Bois, W. E. B. (1903). The souls of black folk. New York, NY: Bantam Classic.Google Scholar
  21. El Guindi, F. (1999). Veil: Modesty, privacy and resistance. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
  22. Elkholy, A. (1966). The Arab Moslems in the United States. New Haven, CT: College.Google Scholar
  23. Espiritu, Y. L. (2001). ‘We don’t sleep around like white girls do’: Family, culture, and gender in Filipina American lives. Signs, 26, 414–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fanon, F. (1967). Black skin, white masks (C. L. Markmann, Trans.). New York: Grove Press. (Original work published 1952)Google Scholar
  25. Ghanea Bassiri, K. (1997). Competing visions of Islam in the United States: A study of Los Angeles. Westport, CT: Greenwood.Google Scholar
  26. Gibson, M. A. (1988). Accommodation without assimilation: Sikh immigrants in an American high school. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of society: Outline of a theory of structuration. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  28. Haddad, Y., & Lummis, A. (1987). Islamic values in the United States: A comparative study. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Haddad, Y., & Smith, J. I. (Eds.). (1994). Muslim communities in North America. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  30. Hajjar, L. (2004). Religion, state power, and domestic violence in Muslim societies: A framework for comparative analysis. Law & Social Inquiry, 29(1), 1–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hattar-Pollara, M., & Meleis, A. (1995). The stress of immigration and the daily lived experiences of Jordanian immigrant women in the United-States. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 17, 521–539.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hoogland, E. (1985). Taking root: Arab-American community studies (Vol. II). Washington, DC: ADC Research Institute, The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.Google Scholar
  33. Hooglund, E. (Ed.). (1987). Crossing the waters, Arabic-speaking immigrants to the United States before 1940. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.Google Scholar
  34. Keck, L. (1989). Egyptian Americans in the Washington, DC area. In B. Abu-Laban & M. Suleiman (Eds.), Arab Americans: Continuity and change (pp. 103–126). Belmont, MA: Association of Arab-American University Graduates.Google Scholar
  35. Kulwicki, A., & Miller, J. (1999). Domestic violence in the Arab American population: Transforming environmental conditions through community Education. Mental Health Nursing, 20(3), 199–216.Google Scholar
  36. Levitt, P., & Glick Schiller, N. (2004). Conceptualizing simultaneity: A transnational social field perspective on society. International Migration Review, 38(3), 1002–1039.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lillard, L. A., & Waite, L. J. (1995). ‘Til death do us part’: Marital disruption and mortality. The American Journal of Sociology, 100, 1131–1156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Malek, A. (2005). Why are we always fighting and what are we fighting for? Alternating defensive postures and the relevance of rights to Arab and Arab-American women. The MIT Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies, 5, 169–181.Google Scholar
  39. Naber, N. (2000). Ambiguous insiders: An investigation of Arab American invisibility. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 23(1), 37–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Naff, A. (1985). Becoming American: The early Arab immigrant experience. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Orfalea, G. (2006). The Arab Americans: A history. Northampton, MA: Interlink.Google Scholar
  42. Portes, A. (1996). The new second generation. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  43. Portes, A., & Rumbaut, R. G. (2006). Immigrant America: A portrait. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  44. Portes, A., & Zhou, M. (1993). The new second generation: Segmented assimilation and its variants. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 530(1), 74–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Read, J. G. (2004). Culture, class, and work among Arab American women. New York, NY: LFB Scholarly.Google Scholar
  46. Read, J. G. (2007). The politics of veiling in comparative perspective. Sociology of Religion, 68, 231–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Read, J. G., & Bartowski, J. P. (2000). To veil or not to veil? A case study of identity negotiation among Muslim women in Austin, Texas. Gender and Society, 14, 395–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Read, J. G., & Gorman, B. (2010). Gender and U.S. health inequality. Annual Review of Sociology, 36, 371–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Read, J. G., & Oselin, S. (2008). Gender and the education-employment paradox in ethnic and religious contexts: The case of Arab Americans. American Sociological Review, 73, 296–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sarroub, L. (2005). All American Yemeni girls, being Muslim in a public school. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  51. Shakir, E. (1997). Bint Arab. Arab and Arab American women in the United States. Westport, CT: Praeger.Google Scholar
  52. Tarlo, E. (2010). Visibly Muslim: Fashion, politics, faith. Oxford: Berg.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. U.S. Bureau of the Census. (2000). Census of population and housing. Public-use microdata samples. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  54. U.S. Bureau of the Census. (2010). Selected population profile in the United States: Arabs (400–415, 417–418, 421–430, 435–481, 490–499) Table: S0201, 2010 American Community Survey 1-year estimates. American Community Survey.Google Scholar
  55. Zhou, M. (1997). Segmented assimilation: Issues, controversies, and recent research on the new second generation. International Migration Review, 31(4), 825–858.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Zhou, M., & Bankston, C. (1998). Growing up American: How Vietnamese children adapt to life in the United States. New York, NY: Russell Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social and Cultural SciencesMarquette UniversityMilwaukeeUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

Personalised recommendations