Women, virginity and honor among the Ottomans

Examining a slave’ by Jean-Léon Gérôme.

Islam is a religion based on the patriarchal society of the 7th century A.D. A large portion of the rules it lays down, governing the society of that time and subsequent centuries, concern family and society. Some of these rules naturally concern women and where the rules were lacking, recourse would be made to the hadith (the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) and customary law.

The age of discernment for children was generally considered to be seven. At that time, boys would leave the harem or at least the care of women and start the education that would allow them to operate in the outside world, while girls would be kept at home. There, the girl would start to learn how to accomplish the tasks that she would be required to know as a wife.

She would look after her younger siblings and learn how to cook, clean, sew, embroider and the like. If the family was well off, she might be taught how to sing, dance and play an instrument such as an “ud” or lute, in order to provide entertainment for her husband and other members of his harem.

There was no reason for her to learn reading or writing because her guardian (father, paternal grandfather or, if they were no longer present, some other male relative who was a Muslim and deemed to be of good reputation) would look after her and her interests until she was married…

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  • olddog

    Piglosi would look great in a Pink Burkha..ya Think???…Hildebeast could trade in her Maoist pant suit…OH THE JOY!!!

  • Brett_McS

    Clearly there is a percentage of western women who find that arrangement attractive (and probably a larger percentage of western men).

  • Frau Katze

    This is very tribal

    The concept of “honor” was associated with married women, not unmarried women, because it aimed at the protection of home and family. It was important for the woman’s reputation and for that of her husband. By honor was meant chastity, modesty and observation of the rules of gender separation. According to Leslie Peirce in an article on “Sexuality, Seniority and Social Order”: “The fastest way to jeopardize one’s reputation for honor was to engage in inappropriate social or sexual behavior with a member of the opposite sex with whom one does not have a blood relationship.”

    • Alain

      Actually the concept of “honour” was totally male based. As the woman was the male’s property, any insult or harm to his property was and is considered an insult or harm to him. The woman on her own has no honour to jeopardise. That has been my personal observation.

      • Frau Katze

        Right. That’s how tribes and clans are organized. The women are like property.

    • Martin B

      So engaging in sexual behavior with a member of the opposite sex with whom one does have a blood relationship is honorable. Hooray for 70 generations of inbred retards!

  • Norman_In_New_York

    According to at least one documentary video, every unit of Kurdish women solders has a teacher to teach them literacy in the Kurdish language and the folksongs and dances during stand down times. Nationalism at its best.

  • Just the thought of living in an Islamic society, whether as a Moslem and all the more as a non-Moslem, brings black depression into my mind. The horror, the horror of it. It is like going down into a dark, closed and static region of hell.