Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi

This next review is part of the “Women Writing Themselves” series.

62358315_2409330216017582_6909569903485779968_nThe premise of the novel is the following: anyone can become a murderer if the circumstances are “right”, in the sense that they force someone to be.

Firdaus, the protagonist, is also the narrator. Her role as such gives her power over her own narrative. Her story is not told by but told to, which is an important aspect of this novel about women struggles and empowerment.

A successful prostitute was better than a misled saint. All women are victims of deception. Men impose deception on women and punish them for being deceived, force them down to the lowest level and punish them for falling so low, bind them in marriage anf then chastise them with menial service for life, or insults, or blows.

Over and over again, Firdaus is a victim of sexual abuse. All those she trusts end up using her in some sort of way. Her body is not her own for most of her life. She is exchanged, seen as an object, pimped for money. Sometimes, you just want to throw the book against a wall. Let’s just say it’s not a tale of love and butterflies.

A woman’s life is always miserable. A prostitute, however, is a little better off.

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(Spoiler Alert) In the face of all that happened to her, Firdaus finds a way to take back control over her body by becoming a prostitute. Although she is still a “sex worker”, this time around she is in charge of her own body. Prostitution is now a tool of empowerment for Firdaus.

This novel isn’t an easy read. If you are an emotional person (like me), you’ll probably cry. If you are a feminist, you’ll certainly be frustrated and maybe you’ll scream. Yet, you’ll also read about a woman who fought tooth and nails for her survival in a world that despised and objectified her. It’s truly a tale of resilience and courage.

It may be a frustrating book, but at least, it’s not a predictable one.

C.


Find your copy of this book at La Maison Anglaise

Read the first review of the series here.

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