How are women protrayed in regards to sexuality and marriage in The Arabian Nights?

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One should bear in mind that The Arabian Nights is a reflection of the culture in which it was written. And that culture—deeply traditional—assigned women a lowly, subordinate status. Little wonder, then, that women in The Arabian Nights are presented as decidedly inferior to their menfolk, their whole identities imposed upon them by a rigidly patriarchal society. The nearest we get to a proto-feminist is Scheherazade, who uses her undoubted wit and intelligence to captivate the king as well as saving the lives of the women he's so shamefully used and abused.

Yet even Scheherazade's life is not her own. There's absolutely nothing whatsoever to prevent the king from summarily putting her to death as he's done to countless other women. All that separates Scheherazade from execution is her talent as a story-teller; without that, she'd be history. However intelligent, witty, and resourceful she may be, Scheherazade's life—as with the life of every woman in this society—is entirely in the hands of the king.

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The treatment of women in The Arabian Nights is depicted as horrifying and oppressive. One could assume that women were hated given the misogyny which appears in the text.

When a married women fails to stay true to her husband, she is subjected to both violent beatings and death. It seems that sex is used to denote both power and failings within the patriarchal society depicted within the text.

While men are allowed to have multiple sexual encounters with women other than their wives, the wives must remain loyal. This hypocritical life is meant to both show the power of men and the oppression of women. Sex for women must be only with their husbands, this includes any sexual acts at all (one woman is beaten by her husband for allowing a man to simply kiss her).

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