Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Middle Eastern Studies


Rebecca Taleghani

Subject Categories

Arabic Studies | English Language and Literature | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Modern Literature | Women's History | Women's Studies


women's studies, Yemeni women memorist, Yemeni women novelist, Yemeni literature


Patriarchal societies create an environment where men hold power and women are often treated as second-class citizens or are often held as having an inferior status. Throughout history and across cultures, literature has provided a platform for writers to share their stories and express themselves. However, Yemeni women have often been silenced and marginalized due to limited education and censorship. In recent times, Yemeni and Yemeni-American women have turned to storytelling as a means of creative expression and emotional release. This thesis analyzes Zubaida “Jasmine” Sharif’s memoir, Caged in America: One Woman’s Journey Through the Veil, and Nadia Al-Kowkabani's Arabic novel, It’s Just Love, examining the relationship between religion and cultural practices in each work. Despite being of different genres, both texts highlight the injustices that Yemeni women face in Yemen and the United States due to entrenched patriarchal cultural practices that have been passed down through generations. The real barriers to Yemeni women's freedom are the patriarchal traditions that persist in Yemeni society and beyond, depriving them of their basic human rights. While Islam protects these rights, they are often denied by cultural tradition. Both writers are feminist voices advocating for the liberation of women from the shackles of patriarchy. Critiquing the social and traditional practices that keep women subjugated is not commonplace in Yemeni society, but Sharif and Al-Kowkabani expose the ways in which these traditions contradict Islamic principles that empower women. Their voices, in different literary genres, produce feminist texts that call for a change that grants women their fundamental human rights. By critiquing misogynistic practices, both works raise awareness about the injustices that Yemeni women face.