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Woman at Point Zero

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From her prison cell, Firdaus, sentenced to die for having killed a pimp in a Cairo street, tells of her life from village childhood to city prostitute. Society's retribution for her act of defiance - death - she welcomes as the only way she can finally be free.

108 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1975

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About the author

Nawal El Saadawi

116 books2,792 followers
Nawal El Saadawi (Arabic: نوال السعداوي) was born in 1931, in a small village outside Cairo. Unusually, she and her brothers and sisters were educated together, and she graduated from the University of Cairo Medical School in 1955, specializing in psychiatry. For two years, she practiced as a medical doctor, both at the university and in her native Tahla.

From 1963 until 1972, Saadawi worked as Director General for Public Health Education for the Egyptian government. During this time, she also studied at Columbia University in New York, where she received her Master of Public Health degree in 1966. Her first novel Memoirs of a Woman Doctor was published in Cairo in 1958. In 1972, however, she lost her job in the Egyptian government as a result of political pressure. The magazine, Health, which she had founded and edited for more than three years, was closed down.

From 1973 to 1978 Saadawi worked at the High Institute of Literature and Science. It was at this time that she began to write, in works of fiction and non-fiction, the books on the oppression of Arab women for which she has become famous. Her most famous novel, Woman at Point Zero was published in Beirut in 1973. It was followed in 1976 by God Dies by the Nile and in 1977 by The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World.

In 1981 Nawal El Saadawi publicly criticized the one-party rule of President Anwar Sadat, and was subsequently arrested and imprisoned. She was released one month after his assassination. In 1982, she established the Arab Women's Solidarity Association, which was outlawed in 1991. When, in 1988, her name appeared on a fundamentalist death list, she and her second husband, Sherif Hetata, fled to the USA, where she taught at Duke University and Washington State University. She returned to Egypt in 1996.

In 2004 she presented herself as a candidate for the presidential elections in Egypt, with a platform of human rights, democracy and greater freedom for women. In July 2005, however, she was forced to withdraw her candidacy in the face of ongoing government persecution.

Nawal El Saadawi has achieved widespread international recognition for her work. She holds honorary doctorates from the universities of York, Illinois at Chicago, St Andrews and Tromso. Her many prizes and awards include the Great Minds of the Twentieth Century Prize, awarded by the American Biographical Institute in 2003, the North-South Prize from the Council of Europe and the Premi Internacional Catalunya in 2004. Her books have been translated into over 28 languages worldwide. They are taught in universities across the world.

She now works as a writer, psychiatrist and activist. Her most recent novel, entitled Al Riwaya was published in Cairo in 2004.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,572 reviews
Profile Image for Alice.
75 reviews
July 1, 2013
I was surprised when I saw the rating for Woman at Point Zero . To me, it was a solid five-star book. When I scrolled through the reviews, I noticed many, many five star and four star reviews, but there was a pervasive theme of how she seemed unrelatable and fake. I completely disagree.

First of all, Woman at Point Zero is a short read, 114 pages at the most. In three chapters, Firdaus' life story is framed by the author's own narrative, which develops from vaguely superior and curious to shocked and humbled. I had trouble reading this book, mostly because I wanted to find a quiet place where I could read it all in one setting and digest this magnificent woman's life.

Secondly, people seem to forget that they aren't reading a fictional story. In fiction, one is expected to connect with the main character, which is why authors continue to fall back on the age-old archetypes and standards. What readers often don't realize is that they are not relating to a protagonist or deuteragonist or antagonist that reminds them of themselves, but rather relating to an ideal, something that they wish they were or qualities that they think they possess, following a story that they wish they could go through. It's also probably one of the reasons why people find this story to be unbelievable, paradoxically. Fictional works often have the reader suspend their disbelief in order to spin a tale of growth and fairy tale morals. In non-fiction, there is no sugar. When the truth is reached, it's not because she was an underdog who reached the top with the help of her friends and family and familiar, it's because she's had everything stripped away from her and has been left with nothing to lose.

People don't like that. People would rather read happy tales that don't end up in front of the firing squad waiting to be executed. Exploring the depths of human nature and societal structures is a threat to all we find to be "normal" or "safe".

This brings me to the next point I'd like to make. Culturally, Egypt is extremely different from the Western countries, which have a history of being comparatively liberal. Maybe execution for killing a man seems excessive to us, but to them, she is a woman. The lowest of the low, beaten, caged, and silenced. "Pure". She's a prostitute. A whore. She lives in a land of intolerance, one so patriarchal that a woman's word is worth half of a man's. She's essentially considered subhuman in her country, which is also one with a habit of almost unrestrained violence among the classes.

If that sounds familiar, it should. Racial oppression, social oppression, and sexual oppression are more than related.

I approached this book with hopefully an open mind, but truthfully, I would never have even considered reading such a slim book if my mom hadn't first picked it up and asked me, "Why would your cousin"--male--"have to read a woman's book? It's completely inappropriate." Immediately, I asked her why she would say that, and she couldn't give me an answer. I asked her if she thought it was inappropriate for me to read books written by men about men (i.e. the majority of books I've read for school in the past five years). She couldn't give me an answer.

So, in all honesty, I approached this book with a feminist point of view and I was sucked in. It may seem a little unrealistic for Firdaus to have encountered so much suffering at the hands of men, but I know that it's more than possible. After all, statistics don't usually lie. No wonder she hated men by the end of her story. Only when she held herself up by herself did she manage to flourish as best as she could, but even that was taken away at the end.

By the end of the book, I realized two things that the people who reviewed before me had often missed.

1) Firdaus is not the main character of the story. She is the central character, but not a character. She is a symbol of the oppressed, those who have nothing for themselves except their bodies and minds. We are not expected to be able to sympathize with her, despite her courage and dead reality. Instead, we must be like the author who listened to her story, who is, in fact, us. We are the ones who do not understand because we live in a world built on lies, where we pretend that we are above the common streetwalker. We aren't.

2) It would be wrong to label this book as a feminist novel. Really, it's a feminist novel because the central character is female and it focuses on her struggle to maintain dignity and strength even when she has nothing. It would be labeled an LGBTQQ novel if the main character were a lesbian. What if it were about a straight man who prostituted himself to survive? Does it seem even less believable now?

This is a story about finding the truth. And the truth is not that women can't survive without men. It's not that all men are scum. It's that life is cruel and that power is dangerous in the wrong hands and that too much power corrupts. It reveals the diseases of society and how people are so blind and unwilling to change because there is always someone below them and because there is always some irrational reason to keep them from changing. It shows the futility of revolution and the futility of a singular being attempting change. It's a cautionary tale from a woman who lived her life like all of us, constantly seeking happiness.

I urge everybody to read this book. It's a learning experience, if not an enjoyable one.
Profile Image for Rowena.
500 reviews2,463 followers
January 31, 2016
“A new world was opening up in front of my eyes, a world which for me had not existed before. Maybe it had always been there, always existed, but I had never seen it, never realized it had been there all the time. How was it that I had been blind to its existence all these years?”- Nawal El Saadawi, Woman at Point Zero

I was told by a friend that the German title for this book is translated as “I Spit on You,” and it makes a lot of sense after you read the book, because that will probably be your reaction to most of the characters. This is my second El Saadawi book and I wish I’d written a review for the first book of hers that I read, The Innocence of the Devil, because I thought both books were excellent, similar in their approach and very powerful in how they portrayed patriarchy, sexism, hypocrisy, and misogyny.

I love Firdaus, our protagonist, and I think she’s a character who’ll stay with me for a very long time. At the beginning of the novella we find her on death row for killing a man and as she recounts her story to a female psychiatrist who is sent to visit her. We learn more about her. And it’s shocking. It wouldn’t surprise me if many women are able to see themselves in Firdaus, despite the fact that we might not be Egyptian, Muslim etc, like she was. Parts of her story are surely the stories of many women.

The tone of the book starts off so innocently and simply; the change in describing brutal incidents caught me by surprise. From every single man Firdaus encounters she experiences abuse or exploitation of sorts. Firdaus changes because of her experiences and we see how strong she becomes, despite encountering such awful things.

Despite the tragic story, Firdaus has moments of agency and emancipation. This woman who nobody wants, who’s abused time and again, who isn’t helped when she should be, comes up with her own definition of truth based on what she sees and experiences, not what she has been indoctrinated with. El Saadawi exposes the hypocrisy in religious and patriarchal societies with men using tradition for their own purposes:

“I discovered that all these rulers were men. What they had in common was an avaricious and distorted personality, a never-ending appetite for money, sex and unlimited power. They were men who sowed corruption on the earth, and plundered their peoples, men endowed with loud voices, a capacity for persuasion, for choosing sweet words and shooting poisoned arrows. Thus, the truth about them was revealed only after their deaths, and as a result I discovered that history tended to repeat itself with a foolish obstinacy.”

She compares and contrasts marriage and prostitution, and she is often very blunt about what she perceives to be the position of women in society:

“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 and then chastise them with menial service for life, or insults, or blows.”

But there is the hope when women like Firdaus realize the truth but also the power they actually have:

“How many were the years of my life that went by before my body, and my self became really mine, to do with them as I wished? How many were the years of my life that were lost before I tore my body and my self away from the people who held me in their grasp since the very first day?”

And ultimately though the telling of Firdaus’ story, I found myself changed as well, and more understanding of Firdaus’ journey and evolution.

“A man does not know a woman’s value, Firdaus. She is the one who determines her value."
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,084 reviews6,999 followers
April 10, 2023
[Revised 4/10/23]

This translation by an Egyptian female author gives us a traumatic picture of how a young woman is brutalized physically and mentally by just about every man - relative or stranger - that she runs into. It could be subtitled ‘The Brutal Life of an Egyptian Prostitute.’


She runs away from her brutal husband and becomes a prostitute to survive. At first she turns cheap tricks but later she learns to turn men down, becoming more exclusive and expensive, raising the level of her clientele. She works her way up to being a prostitute who caters to the wealthy political and military elite of the society. She becomes wealthy herself.

This book is a tragedy of course, and we can see why the author’s works were banned. Indeed it’s such an indictment of Egyptian society in general, and male society in particular, that it’s amazing that this book managed to get published in Egypt in 1975.

Here is a quote from the book: “They said, 'You are a savage and dangerous woman.'
I am speaking the truth. And the truth is savage and dangerous.”

The author who died recently (1931-2021) was an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, especially in calling for the elimination of female circumcision. She has been called 'the Simone de Beauvoir of the Arab World.'


Her writings and activism led to her removal from just about every position she held, including Egypt’s national director of public health. She was imprisoned under Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat but was released within a year only because he died. She fled Egypt because of death threats and taught at universities in the USA, although she eventually went back to Egypt. With more than 18,000 ratings and 2,500 reviews, Woman at Point Zero is by far her best-known book on GR. Only a few of her books have been translated into English.

Top photo of prostitutes in Cairo from lyonbrinton.com
The author from aljazeera.com
1 review1 follower
June 17, 2020
The first time I found Woman at Zero Point was when I deliberately read a tweet from a literacy base, I followed the last few days. Starting from the amount of spam that featured the cover and its review in the reply column. So many say that this book is excellent. It's small but contains something powerful that is valuable for many people to know, a tragic truth. Honestly, I am not a person who quickly consumed other people's reviews. But seeing the number of spam menfess was scattered that day made me decide to buy one in a few days.

It didn't take more than two days to complete this book. For every part of this book, Nawal has successfully surprised and shuddered me terribly in what was experienced by Firdaus, the central character of this book. Sorrowful, miserable, and pathetic, that was only I got from this book.

I was wondering why did Nawal el-Saadawi be so intent on pursuing Firdaus to tell her story? Why would a doctor be willing to write a book about a whore waiting for her death day?

It turned out to be true. If I were Nawal, I would do so and maybe more than that. Because what did Firdaus pass literally illustrates how many women out there are living injustice by an ingrained patriarchal system. But what the final choice of Firdaus is, that is, it is different for each woman.


Firdaus, a woman who chose her own life to become a whore.

"I know that my profession has been created by men and that men control two of our worlds, those on this earth and those in the afterlife. That men force women to sell their bodies at a certain price."

A work that was indirectly formed by all the men she knew during her life. Since childhood, she often got violent. Every new person she met in her life always brought her afflictions. They did at least 3 things; cheating, harassment, and abuse. Her father was a selfish, awful temperament person who only thought of his own stomach and never gives any attention to his kids. Firdaus, her mother, and her siblings were like slaves who must serve his father in any condition. Her siblings, one by one, died cause of starving.

"If one of his daughters dies, Father will eat his dinner, Mother will wash his feet, and then he will go to sleep, as he does every night. If a boy, he would hit Mother, then eat dinner and lay down to sleep. Dad won't go to sleep without eating dinner first, no matter what. Sometimes if there is no food at home, we will all go to sleep empty stomachs. But he will always get food."

Since she was a kid, Firdaus has received immoral acts from her male friend, Muhammadain. Not only stop there, her uncle even so, ironic, because she also loved her uncle more than her parents. After that, her uncle married her to a calculated ancient man who always committed violence against her. Then, she met with Bayoumi, a man she met at the Café when she was looking for jobs using her school diploma. Bayoumi kept her away for a while until he raped her and locked her up, even Firdaus was also raped by Bayoumi's friends. And there are many more that every man she met only invite her to sleep together.

Without warning it, the situation has allowed her body to be enjoyed by many men. Until finally, she realized that her body can make money. She chose to be an honorable whore with the consent of both parties with high pay, she could even choose whoever men she wanted to sleep with. She thought it was far more honorable than having sex as a forced husband and wife. By becoming a whore, she is free of her life, of her own body.

But apparently, Firdaus was wrong; there was still a pimp, "men are always good at kissing people's money," whom she was forced to marry him, Marzouk. Firdaus was fed up and finally stabbed the pimp, which caused her to be sentenced to death. Firdaus proudly welcomed it with a victory like "welcome the truth."

"I have won both life and death, because I have no desire to live, nor do I feel afraid of death."

Nawal wrote this book in an adorable, poetic, and descriptive way, tho... the translation style isn't quite enjoyable to read. It's too confusing, and too many repetitive sentences make me repeat several paragraphs to understand it. Such the depiction of a pair of eyes that seem complicated and rambling "two rings that are very white around two dark circles."

I give it five stars tho, for successful Nawal, who makes me realize the importance of caring for other women as a woman, not precisely as a human being. Probably, Firdaus wouldn't be like this if she got love from people she knew during her life. The power of love is so meaningful to all living things.
We knew in Interstellar book that Cooper is safe because of his love for his daughter, Murph.
At this moment, whoever you are, man or woman must read this book, and you will care more about your friends, maybe we can help another Firdaus who is trapped at the lowest point in her life, at zero point.

A small book with a lot of value, what a precious little thing I like the most about how to dare fighting harassment, about how to love yourself. Firdaus now becomes my new real favorite character of a nonfictional book for the first time.
Now, I just knew why Nawal took pains to meet Firdaus because we are nothing compared to her, who has a lot of courage throughout her life.

"And I realize that Firdaus has more courage than I have."
Profile Image for Paul.
1,178 reviews1,935 followers
September 14, 2020
I was hoping that Saadawi would win the Nobel Prize this time round; sadly it wasn’t to be. However I suspect she was not surprised, as she says;
“I am still ignored by big literary powers in the world, because I write in Arabic, and also because I am critical of the colonial, capitalist, racist, patriarchal mind set of the super-powers.”
However she is much more than just a novelist/writer; she originally trained as a doctor, then went into politics (Public Health). She lost her job because of political activism and spent some time in prison. Her political activism involves challenging FGM, arguing that women are oppressed by the patriarchal religions and highlighting a range of women’s issues.
This novel is based on Saadawi’s meeting with a woman soon to be executed in prison in the early 1970s. She was so affected by the meeting that she wrote the novel in a week. Saadawi explores the issues she has written about over the years, but principally the role of women and their powerlessness in the society she was observing.
In the novel Firdaus tells her life story from a level of childhood innocence, through FGM, abuse from a relative, the death of her parents, school, an arranged marriage to a much older man (whom she leaves when he abuses her), time with another man (starts well but ends in control and abuse), time as a prostitute in a brothel (well-paid but Firduas realizes that the woman cannot protect her), then as a prostitute on her own, then a menial job in a local office, falls in love and thinks it is reciprocated, Firduas is betrayed and goes back to prostitution, when a pimp moves in to try to control her she has to kill him. She has to kill him because the only way for women to liberate themselves from men is to kill them. This, Firduas says, is why she has to die.
Firduas has lead a life where choice has been absent and this is the point; freedom is illusory, as Janis Joplin sang “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”. It may all sound quite grim and given the subject matter that is inevitable, but Saadawi does write lyrically as well:
“It was clean, paved thoroughfare, which ran along one bank of the Nile with tall trees on either side. The houses were surrounded by fences and gardens. The air which entered my lungs was pure and free of dust. I saw a stone bench facing the river. I sat down on it, and lifted my face to the refreshing breeze.”
However the crux of the matter relates to choice and control, the lack of choices women have and the control men have:
“How many were the years of my life that went by before my body, and my self became really mine, to do with them as I wished? How many were the years of my life that were lost before I tore my body and my self away from these people who held me in their grasp since the very first day?”
Saadawi gives agency to the voiceless and the reader is drawn into Firduas’s life and feels the inevitability of her action. The men, as set in the culture, have all the power and all the choices. The novel provides a powerful analysis of the nature of control and coercion wrought upon women by men. It’s also a well written novel. So why didn’t she get the Nobel?
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
January 1, 2018
Revisiting my Nobels always also includes guessing and hoping for a favourite to receive this year's award. Nawal El-Saadawi has been on my wish list for the Nobel Prize in Literature for many, many years, ever since she dragged me into the scary universe of Two Women in One, showing the double life of women in Egypt, conforming to rules set by men while letting their creativity and independence gain power within their own minds.

The Swedish Academy being what it is, it would be completely unheard of to award women two years in a row, but I keep hoping!

Why Nawal El-Saadawi?

She was a psychiatrist before she became an author, and she is a politician and a human rights activist, so one might argue that she is not dedicating her whole body and soul to literature and therefore not a valid aesthetic choice. However, Nobel's will clearly states that the prizes should be awarded "to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind".

"Woman at Point Zero" makes the case for women in the Arab world, shows their vulnerability, their strength and intelligence, and at the same time, it is a harrowing work of fiction, of classical
drama. Awarding El-Saadawi the Nobel Prize would officially recognise the voice of women in oppressive societies, while adding a compelling storyteller to the list of laureates.

Similar to Drakulic' As If I Am Not There in the depiction of regular, institutionalised abuse, "Woman at Point Zero" adds the dimension of internal striving for freedom.

The book begins on the night before the main character's execution in a prison. The basic facts of the story are true, and Nawal El-Saadawi recounts the original circumstances in her preface, explaining how she came to know the real woman the novel is based on:

"Firdaus, however, remained a woman apart. She stood out amongst the others, vibrated within me, or sometimes lay quiet, until the day when I put her down in ink on paper and gave her life after she had died."

This story is an act of catharsis, using the creation of art to survive the pain of reality. Again, the similarity to Drakulic is striking. She also focused on the therapeutic, cathartic power of art in her novel Marble Skin.

El-Saadawi does not simply record the story she listens to, in the way of the journalist Svetlana Alexievich in her documentation of the Soviet Union and Russian life post communism, she creates a setting, not unlike Sheherazade's nightly storytelling atmosphere in the face of imminent execution. There is urgency in the voice of the woman who cuts her visitor short:

"Let me speak. Do not interrupt me. I have no time to listen to you. They are coming to take me at six o'clock this evening. Tomorrow morning I shall no longer be here."

Then she starts talking, and the story unfolds with terrifying logic. We encounter a young girl full of curiosity, loving school, devouring books:

"I developed a love of books, for with every book I learned something new. I got to know about the Persians, the Turks and the Arabs. I read about the crimes committed by kings and rulers, about wars, peoples, revolutions, and the lives of the revolutionaries."

At this point in her life, she has already experienced sexual abuse by her uncle, and she relates the stories she reads to her own life and concludes:

"I discovered that history tended to repeat itself with a foolish obstinacy."

As a grown-up, she works as a prostitute and learns to suppress all feelings. She becomes an automaton, brutally shaken awake when she falls in love:

"When I was selling my body to men, the pain had been much less. It was imaginary, rather than real. As a prostitute, I was not myself, my feelings did not arise from within me.
They were not really mine. [...] With love I began to imagine that I had become a human being."

Her humiliation and hurt are so intense because she had begun to hope. Let down even by the man she loves, she is devastated.

After that experience, she frees herself from all male domination and acts on her own. She strikes back, and returns the violence she has been subject to since childhood.

The result eventually is her arrest for murder and ultimately her execution, which she celebrates:

"They said: "You are a savage and dangerous woman".
"I am speaking the truth, and truth is savage and dangerous."

With pride she leaves for her last encounter with oppressive society, leaving the shocked and deeply touched narrator behind:

"I saw her walk out with them. I never saw her again. But her voice continued to echo in my ears, vibrating in my head, in the cell, in the prison, in the streets, in the whole world, shaking everything, spreading fear wherever it went, the fear of the truth which kills, the power of truth, as savage, and as simple, and as awesome as death, yet as simple and as gentle as the child that has not yet learnt to lie."

Those words speak for themselves, and that voice deserves to be heard, along with the many other voices creating a chorus singing of freedom of choice for oppressed people around the world, a chorus in which I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban chimes in, or Virginia Woolf in her A Room of One's Own.

Maybe it is time for the academy to make a statement by awarding women the Nobel Prize in Literature twice in a row, after a century of lopsidedness, missing out on women of Woolf's caliber?

Says the bookworm cheering on her favourites, well aware that the election process is complicated, political, and sometimes quite random. And that her taste is not universal, but personal!

I have other favourites to cheer on as well, but I keep my fingers crossed for this author of savage truth in a political landscape recently labelled the "post-truth era" by The Economist!
Profile Image for Amal Bedhyefi.
196 reviews634 followers
January 23, 2019
If you live in an Arab Muslim country , you would have probably heard of Nawel Saadaoui once in your lifetime.
I know I have.
But it took me a while until I decided to pick up one of her books and it is mainly thanks to Ilham , a dear friend of mine , who recommended it to me.
I opened the first pages , started reading and next thing i know , there are no pages left for me to read.
It's heartbreaking , deeply uncomfortable and mournful.
Ferdaous's story is definitely one of those stories that need to be read/heard of. An egyptian woman faced with the ugly side of life ever since she was a child.
The tone of the book starts off simply and slowly however the change in describing brutal incidents caught me by surprise.
Nawel does not stop to reflect or to further explain what happened , she writes as if it is a ususal thing . Only later that I have managed to unravel the reason why she hasn't stopped and let us grasp , other equally awful encounters were on the way.

This book also raises a key feminist topic : Women's right to choose . Feminists have always fought for the freedom of choice , only women are capable of choosing how they live their lives. In other words , anything can be considered feminist as long as it is a woman’s choice.
Nawal discusses this point with her readers while narrating Ferdaous'story , she argues that the fact that a woman chooses something does not necessarily mean that choice is feminist , claiming that women should be aware that patriarchy gives women no choices at all .
That made me think!

I loved Firdaus and I think she’s a character who’ll stay with me for a very long time . Ferdaous' tragic story is the story of many women across time and cultures.
You need to read this book.
Profile Image for Nnedi.
Author 148 books15.1k followers
April 15, 2016
I've loved this slim novel since I read it for the first time in an undergrad literature class. It's beautifully written, addictive as heck and features a harrowing main character. It's simply written and that gives room for the complex narrative (this my favorite type of writing). This book was an enormous influence on my own novel Who Fears Death. And rereading it really reminded me why.
Profile Image for Shayma Nofal.
15 reviews13 followers
March 23, 2013
افضل هذا النوع من الاعمال الادبيه الذى يعكس واقع ويخدم بشكل مباشر قضيه انسانيه حاملا رساله واضحه.. انها ليست مجرد روايه مأساويه انتهت بجريمه او تفاصيل جريئه من اجل التسليه وجذب القراء كما يظن القارئ الساذج، انها تتناول بصدق واقع المرأه العربيه ووضعها مقارنه بوضع الرجل فى مجتمع مزدوج سياساته الع��مه هى الظلم والقهر.. مجتمع السلطه فيه تمنح للاسوأ والاكثر جشعا وفسادا ومجونا وقد اثبت الذكر –والتاريخ خير شاهد- انه الجنس الانسب والاكثر جداره لمهام كهذه!! .. اما بالنسبه للمرأه فى مجتمعنا فهى ببساطه لن تكون -مهما بلغت- الا المعتوهة او الشيطانه التى عليها ان تتحمل اخطاء الجميع والسبب طبعا لانها امرأه وهذا سبب كافى جدا للومها واستغلالها وقهرها ولنفس السبب ايضا عليها ان تؤمن بشده انها الادنى لاسباب ليست علميه بيولوجيه ولا حتى دينيه.. و اذا كانت مستنيره واعيه عاقله صادقه فهى العدو الاول لمجتمع ذكورى اقطاعى جاهل مريض يعطى الاوسمه لاصحاب النفوذ والقوه والمال من الرجال الغير شرفاء عاده، وعليها ان تواجه العقاب النفسى اذ لم يكن اقتصاديا او بدنيا فى البيت فى العمل فى الشارع كل يوم.... ولا عجب ان مجتمعاتنا تعج بالكثير من الرجال الجشعين الانذال الماجنين و الكثير ايضا من النساء السلبيات المغفلات ممن اتبعوا قانون الذكر وهو الايمان بأجسادهن فقط دون عقولهن، جنسهن دون انسانيتهن..والمحصله مجتمع افراده ضائعون فاقدون لذاتهم الحقيقيه وقيمهم الساميه... اما الباحث-رجل كان ام امرأه- عن الحق، السلام النفسى والحقيقه كالحب والعدل والمساواه والصدق والرحمه والاخلاص عليه ان يعش مغتربا وحيدا رافضا مرفوضا مكتئبا فى صدام دائم مع الاخرين و اما ان يصبح مدعيا متظاهرا طوال الوقت فاقدا لنفسه مزدوجا منافقا ليكون اكثر تكيفا مع هذا المجتمع المزدوج المريض.
مؤخرا قرأت العديد من كتابات نوال السعداوى.. وتحمست وتفاعلت كثيرا بسبب صدقها ونزاهتها فى تناول اكبر قضيه فى مجتمعاتنا.. شخصيا انا مؤمنه بأن الفساد والمجون والعنف والجريمه سببها رغبات ذكر فى المقام الاول، ولكونى امرأه ادركت هذه الحقيقه الكارثيه بالاضافه انى قضيت الكثير من الوقت -بحكم دراستى وعملى- فى المدارس والاصلاحيات ودور الرعايه والتأهيل ودور الايتام ومحاكم الاسره .. وشهدت اغرب الاحداث التى يمكن ان تحدث للمرأه وسمعت اغرب القصص والحكايات مما زادنى ادراكا و رفضا لواقع مجتمعنا المريض الفاسد الظالم بالاجمال.
Profile Image for Eirini Proikaki.
334 reviews108 followers
March 5, 2019
Η Nawal El-Saadawi είναι αιγύπτια συγγραφέας,ψυχίατρος και ακτιβίστρια για τα δικαιώματα των γυναικών.
Κατά τη διάρκεια μιας έρευνας που έκανε για τις νευρώσεις στις γυναίκες,βρέθηκε και σε μια φυλακή όπου και έμαθε για την Φιρντάους,μια γυναίκα καταδικασμένη σε θάνατο,και ζήτησε να την δει.Η Φιρντάους αρνιόταν να της μιλήσει για αρκετές εβδομάδες,μέχρι που κάποια μέρα αποφάσισε να πει την ιστορία της ζωής της στην γιατρό.
Αυτήν την ιστορία θέλησε να μεταφέρει σε αυτό το βιβλίο η El Saadawi.
Η Φιρντάους αγαπούσε το σχολείο,τη μάθηση,θα ήθελε να σπουδάσει,να δουλέψει,να είναι ελεύθερη.Να διαλέξει αυτή το δρόμο της.Γεννήθηκε όμως σε μια κοινωνία οπου ,ως γυναίκα,δεν είχε αυτό το δικαίωμα.
Κακοποιήθηκε ξανά και ξανά,προσπάθησε να ξεφύγει,έζησε μια ψευδαίσθηση ελευθερίας,μέχρι που κατάλαβε πως ότι και να κάνει δεν μπορεί να γλυτώσει απο τους άντρες,που έχουν όλα τα δικαιώματα,ενώ αυτή κανένα.
Profile Image for Repellent Boy.
488 reviews504 followers
August 1, 2019
Los pelos de punta me ha puesto esta historia a lo largo de sus páginas. Y me ha provocado rabia, mucha rabia.

En este libro vamos a conocer a Firdaus, una mujer condenada a la pena de muerte, que como última voluntad decide contar la historia de su vida. Su vida nos será narrada a través de las páginas de una forma rápida y directa, pero no exenta de mucho dolor.

Nuestra protagonista nacerá en Egipto, y desde bien temprano descubrirá que ninguna mujer es libre en su país. Todas son esclavas de los hombres. Primero lo será de su padre, luego de su tío, después de su marido, y así, se irán sucediendo un sin fin de personajes masculinos, que solo se acercarán a ella para sacar provecho. Como si fuera un simple objeto al que se le pudiera sacar todo el beneficio posible. Estas situaciones la irán llevando a una tristeza y a una desesperación cada vez más grande, hasta que pierda toda la esperanza ante la vida. Y se vuelva insensible.

Esta es una obra increíble, pero de una gran dureza. Cuesta creer que la autora tuviera el valor de hacer un retrato tan crudo y ta directo de la sociedad machista egipcia en el 1973. Aunque bueno, a día de hoy, seguiría siendo algo tremendamente valiente. De hecho, libros como este y otros muchos que tiene, le valieron ser despedida de diferentes trabajos, encarcelada, e incluso, tener que exiliarse en EEUU por ser amenazada de muerte por terroristas.

La reflexión más interesante de la novela, viene a confirmar lo que la autora sufrió después por escribir los libros que escribió: La verdad es mucho más peligrosa y poderosa que la muerte, y quien no quiere oirla tratará de acallarla con violencia. Y no hay mejor arma contra esta que la verdad.

En definitiva, un libro super recomendable, pero increíblemente duro. Un libro que nos habla sobre la situación de la mujer en Egipto, un país donde la violación y el maltrato por parte del hombre está completamente interiorizada en la sociedad, hasta tal punto que la mujer no solo es culpable de los actos que el hombre hace, si no también lo es de los actos a los que este le obliga. Otro libro maravilloso para que las personas se eduquen.
Profile Image for Agapi.
152 reviews92 followers
March 28, 2019
Δυστυχώς κι αυτό ανήκει στα βιβλία που εύχεσαι να ήταν fiction.
Η ιστορία καθαυτή είναι συγκλονιστική: μια γυναίκα που κακοποιήθηκε επανειλημμένα από ανδρικά χέρια σε όλη της ζωή καταδικάζεται για φόνο και της επιβάλλεται η θανατική ποινή.
Ωστόσο κάτι στη γραφή με ξένισε αρκετά. Δε μπορώ να το εξηγήσω ακριβώς, πάντως πιστεύω ότι δεν είναι θέμα μετάφρασης.
4/5 όπως και να 'χει για την Φιρντάους και για κάθε Φιρντάους εκεί έξω.
Profile Image for Sinem A..
449 reviews248 followers
September 3, 2015
Yazarın Mısır'da Kanatır cevaevinde görüştüğü idam mahkumu bir kadının hikayesi. Karar vermek zor; insan olarak mı yoksa kadın olarak mı daha çok etkilendim?
Gerçekliğine inanmak istemeyeceğimiz kadar gerçek maalesef.
Profile Image for Nicola.
535 reviews55 followers
March 30, 2017
This review could probably just read:

Men suck.

But then that wouldn't cover the fact that sometimes women do too. But:

Men suck (and sometimes women as well)

doesn't have the same punchiness.

Really though, in this story by Nawal El-Saadawi men do suck. Lots. Whether you are a poor uneducated brute or a more educated sophisticated man; whether you are a pimp or a prince, a near relation or a policeman, if you are a man it is a given that you are going to seriously suck at some point. Sometimes it will take some time for you to show us just how much you suck, but that only means when you do, you end up sucking twice as bad.

Does Ms El-Saadawi blame the specific environment of Egypt and the contaminating influence of Islamic religion used to praise the dehumanising of women? Or does it go further down to the fact that she thinks that all men are just scum regardless of place and religious upbringing? Perhaps it doesn't matter - if your whole world is one area and one idea then that is your specific reality. And in that reality, men suck.

Big time.
Profile Image for Arzu.
187 reviews20 followers
January 7, 2014
Neval El Seddavi'nin biyografik romanı.. İdam mahkumu Firdevs'in yaşam öyküsünü, onun dilinden duru bir şekilde anlatıyor. Firdevs, Mısırlı bir fahişe..

Kitabı okurken kölelik, esaret, korku, güç, gerçek kavramlarını bir daha düşünmenize sebep oluyor.. Bi' çırpıda bitip, vurucu ve farklı bir lezzet bırakıyor..

"..gerçeği hiç zorluk çekmeden anlatıyorum. Çünkü gerçek kolay ve yalındır. Bu yalınlığın içinde de vahşi bir güç yatar. Yaşamın vahşi, ilkel gerçeklerine ancak yıllar süren bir savaşımın sonunda varabildim. Çünkü insanlar yaşamın yalın ama çirkin ve güçlü olan gerçeklerine birkaç yıl içinde varamazlar pek. Gerçeğe ulaşmak, artık ölümden korkmamak demektir. Her ikisiyle de yüz yüze gelmek büyük bir cesaret gerektirdiğinden, ölümle gerçek birbirine benzer. Gerçekler de insanı öldürdüğü için, ölüm gibidir. Ben bir insanı öldürdüğüm zaman, onu bıçakla değil, gerçekle öldürdüm. Bu yüzden korkuyorlar; beni yok etmek için bu yüzden acele ediyorlar. Bıçaktan korkmazlar. Onları korkutan gerçeğimdir. Bu korkutucu gerçek bana güç veriyor. Beni ölümden, yaşamdan, açlıktan, çıplaklıktan ya da yılgınlıktan koruyor. Beni hükümdarlarla polisin zalimliğinden koruyan da bu korkutucu gerçektir."
Profile Image for roz_anthi.
148 reviews116 followers
March 28, 2019
Ολόκληρη η κριτική μου για το βιβλίο εδώ στο μπλογκ.

Η Ναουάλ αλ Σααντάουι, γεννημένη στην Αίγυπτο το 1931, βίωσε από πολύ μικρή ηλικία το φυσικοποιημένο βάρος της ανδρικής καταπίεσης, τη βία που σφραγίζει το σώμα, αφού στα έξι της χρόνια υπέστη κλειτοριδεκτομή, όπως κι η ηρωίδα αυτού του βιβλίου, η Φιρντάους. Παρ’ όλα αυτά, η οικογένειά της τής επέτρεψε να σπουδάσει ιατρική στο Πανεπιστήμιο του Καΐρου, απ’ όπου αποφοίτ��σε στα μέσα της δεκαετίας του ’50.

Χάρη στη δουλειά της ήρθε σε επαφή με γυναίκες της υπαίθρου και φτωχές αγρότισσες που είχαν υποστεί κι εκείνες σωματική βία και ακρωτηριασμούς στα γεννητικά τους όργανα. Αποτέλεσμα μιας τέτοιας συνάντησης είναι και η Φιρντάους, η πρωτοπρόσωπη εξομολόγηση μιας θανατοποινίτισσας, που αφηγείται τη ζωή της στην ψυχίατρο λίγο πριν έρθουν να την πάρουν για εκτέλεση. Η Φιρντάους αρνήθηκε τη χάρη του προέδρου, διάλεξε να μη σώσει τη ζωή της, αντιστάθηκε για μια τελευταία φορά στην ανδρική εξουσία.

Η ιστορία της ξεκινάει από την παιδική της ηλικία στο πατρικό σπίτι, μέσα σε καθεστώς φτώχειας και σκληρότητας. Ο αγράμματος πατέρας της άφηνε νηστικούς τη γυναίκα και τα παιδιά του για να μην του λείψει το δείπνο κι όταν κάποιο απ’ τα αγόρια πέθαινε, συχνό φαινόμενο, ξυλοφόρτωνε τη σύζυγό του. Μόλις την αντικατέστησε με κάποια άλλη, η Φιρντάους ανέλαβε να τον υπηρετεί. Η μόνη διαφυγή της φαινόταν να είναι ο θείος της, ένας ακόμη άνδρας από τον οποίο αναγκάστηκε να εξαρτηθεί για να μπορέσει να σπουδάσει και να ξεφύγει από την οικογενειακή καταπίεση.

Η Φιρντάους αντιλαμβάνεται την εκπαίδευσή της ως ευκαιρία χειραφέτησης και ανεξαρτητοποίησης, όμως διαπιστώνει σύντομα, καθώς ο θείος της παντρεύεται και κάνει δικά του παιδιά, ότι έχει γίνει βάρος, ένα επιπλέον στόμα που πρέπει να τραφεί και που δε συνεισφέρει πουθενά. Ο θείος της θέλει να την παντρέψει για να την ξεφορτωθεί και να ξεπληρώσει τα χρέη του με την προίκα του γάμου της. Η νεαρή κοπέλα προφανώς δεν έχει λόγο για τον ποιον άντρα θα πάρει και καταλήγει σε ένα ακόμη κακοποιητικό και ταπεινωτικό περιβάλλον.

Αξίζει να προσέξουμε ότι η επιτήρηση που ασκεί ο εξουσιαστής ως συνθήκη καταπίεσης εμφανίζεται διαρκώς μέσα στην αφήγηση της Φιρντάους και διαπλέκεται με την έννοια της ιδιοκτησίας και τον έλεγχο του σώματος. Ο ηλικιωμένος σύζυγος της τήν παρακολουθεί, μετρώντας τις μπουκιές της, για τις οποίες απαιτεί να νιώθει υποχρεωμένη, και άρα, να εκτελεί τα συζυγικά της καθήκοντα χωρίς αποστροφή. Οι άντρες στον δρόμο έχουν το δικαίωμα να διατρέχουν το κορμί της με τα μάτια τους κι έπειτα με τα χέρια τους, ενώ η Φιρντάους αρχικά στέκεται ανήμπορη και παγωμένη.

Αντίθετα, η μητρική εποπτεία μοιάζει να επιφέρει ένα αίσθημα ζεστασιάς και ασφάλειας. Η Φιρντάους νιώθει ότι με το να ανήκει στη μητέρα της, προστατεύεται. Η μητρική ματιά που επιτηρεί το παιχνίδι, που φοβάται για τα πρώτα βήματα, που βλέπει βαθιά μέσα απ’ το παιδί, είναι μια ασπίδα προστασίας. Μόλις η ματιά της μητέρας εκλείψει, κάθε άλλη προβάλλει ως απειλή. Γι’ αυτό και στις λίγες στιγμές που η Φιρντάους βρίσκει κάποιον άνθρωπο που της συμπαραστέκεται, εκεί ακριβώς ξαναζεί το μαύρο και το άσπρο των μητρικών ματιών, μέσα από μια σειρά πανέμορφων επαναλήψεων καθόλη τη διάρκεια της ζωή της, που φέρνουν στο νου σκηνές από τα παραμύθια των Χιλίων και Μιας Νυχτών.

Δραπετεύοντας από τον σύζυγό της, ξεκινάει για εκείνη ένας επίμονος αγώνας να προστατεύσει το σώμα και το μυαλό της μακριά από τις γνωστές όσο και εξουσιαστικές παρουσίες της οικογένειας. Η κοπέλα θα πέσει θύμα εκμετάλλευσης από έναν ακόμη άντρα και θα βιαστεί πολλαπλά. Θα ξεφύγει και πάλι, μόνο που αυτή τη φορά μια γυναίκα θα της δώσει την πρωτόφαντη δυνατότητα της επιλογής. Η Φιρντάους θα γίνει πόρνη, θα πλουτίσει και θα αποκτήσει για πρώτη φορά τον έλεγχο της ζωής της, συνειδητοποιώντας ότι μέσα στην πατριαρχία, πόρνες και ευυπόληπτες γυναίκες μπορούν να υποφέρουν εξίσου, υπόκεινται το ίδιο στους έμφυλους περιορισμούς, μπορούν να βιαστούν και να ξυλοφορτωθούν χωρίς πολλές διαφορές.

Πρέπει να καταστεί σαφές ότι η ιστορία της Φιρντάους δεν είναι μια ειδική περίπτωση που εκτυλίσσεται σε κάποιο εξωτικό περιβάλλον ή ότι τέτοια παραδείγματα συναντούμε μόνο στα ισλαμικά κράτη. Τέτοιες συμπεριφορές έχουν κανονικοποιηθεί και σε χώρες της Δύσης, όπου η ψυχολογική και σωματική βία κι οι απαγορεύσεις, πλήττουν γυναίκες από όλα τα οικονομικά και κοινωνικά στρώματα, ανεξάρτητα από τη μόρφωσή τους.

Γι' αυτό χρειαζόμαστε τη Φιρντάους και περισσότερα κείμενα σαν κι αυτό της αλ Σααντάουι, χρειαζόμαστε τις ιστορίες των γυναικών που αγωνίστηκαν λυσσαλέα για την αυτοκυριαρχία τους, που κατέδειξαν με πάθος τα αδιέξοδα που βιώνουν οι γυναίκες μέσα στην πατριαρχία, που δείχνουν τον δρόμο της αυτοδιάθεσης, της ισότητας, της ελευθερίας. Χρειαζόμαστε κι άλλες Φιρντάους.
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,854 reviews1,369 followers
November 28, 2019
Now I had learnt that honor required large sums of money to protect it, but that large sums of money could not be obtained without losing one's honor. An infernal circle whirling round and round, draggng me up and down with it.

Woman at Point Zero is a harrowing Candide for our post-liberal musing. While reading it we should all be ashamed. No one should take pride in the closing of workhouses, the confinement has happened elsewhere, outsourced to favelas and shanties. Don't linger excessively along the edges of the town and insure that the preterit don't congregate along the promenade. El Saadawi notes that order must be maintained and that being respectful is an ephemeral condition. Everyone celebrating Thanksgiving should read this novel much as my grandmother and I once viewed Grapes of Wrath on the Lord's day of Gluttony.
Profile Image for El.
1,355 reviews503 followers
December 1, 2017
In the early 1970s, Nawal El Saadawi lost her job as the Director of Health Education and Editor-in-Chief of Health magazine because she did something really horrible: She wrote a book about women and sex.


She turned to the research of neuroses in Egyptian women which led her to meet a doctor at an Egyptian prison who would talk to her about his experiences and some of the inmates. Through this friendship with the doctor, she met Firdaus, a woman imprisoned for killing a man. Firdaus was awaiting execution when Saadawi had an opportunity to meet and talk with her, to get the story directly from the inmate's mouth.

The result turned into this slim novel based on what Firdaus told Saadawi.

Understandably, there was not a lot of time between their meeting and the execution of Firdaus, but my biggest complaint about this novel is just how unemotional the connection appears to be. My theory is that this has more to do with the novelization of the story Firdaus told her, as opposed to writing a biography, or marketing this story as nonfiction. Or, even as Truman Capote did once upon a time - through creative nonfiction or whatever else you want to call it.

Because this book is considered straight up fiction, it fails as a whole because it reads without feeling. I feel if this wasn't based on a true story, readers would like this book less than they do. I'm in the minority with my rating; everyone else has given this 4 or 5 stars (of my own little circle of peeps). If we go by subject matter alone, I 100% agree. The life Firdaus led and how she was essentially set up for failure as a female from the moment of birth. This is not an uncommon story, and the fact this was written in the 1970s shows just long how a lot of this bullshit has been going on around the world.

But I never connected to Firdaus or her story. I am not one of those readers that needs to be able to connect emotionally, but in this case, considering the story behind the story, I felt it was a missed opportunity to make a significant impact.

Aside from the writing itself, this book covers a lot of important situations that continue to be relevant in the 21st century such as male dominance, power struggles, female genital mutilation, class, and prostitution. It's not always an easy read because Firdaus is explicit and unwavering in her explanations. She does not regret what she has done, nor should she. When we look at her life, who can blame her?

I might have snapped sooner than she did.

Also, to those out there who dislike this book because it's a diatribe against men, or speaks poorly about the character of all men, I am judging each and every one of you. You obviously haven't been paying attention to anything.
How many were the years of my life that went by before my body, and my self became really mine, to do with them as I wished? How many were the years of my life that were lost before I tore my body and my self away from the people who held me in their grasp since the very first day?
Profile Image for Zeren.
165 reviews166 followers
September 22, 2016
Ne diyeceğini bilmediği anlar, genelde söyleyecek çok şeyi olduğu anlar oluyor insanın. Şu kadarını diyeyim ki nice devrimci metinden, romandan, söylevden daha devrimci, çatır çatır bir hikaye Firdevs'in hikayesi. Bu fahişenin hikayesini okuyun lütfen. Okuyun ve söylediklerine gücünüz ve dürüstlüğünüz yetiyorsa cevap verin.
Profile Image for Gizem.
23 reviews39 followers
November 22, 2017
O kadar çarpıcı bir kitaptı ki... Tokat gibiydi, mutlaka okuyun!
Profile Image for Miss Ravi.
Author 1 book993 followers
January 17, 2023
سیلویا فدریچی توی مقدمه کتاب انقلاب در نقطۀ صفر: کار خانگی، بازتولید و مبارزۀ فمینیستی می‌گه اسم کتابش رو از روی این رمان الهام گرفته و منم دیگه نتونستم مقاومت کنم و رفتم خوندمش. این‌که می‌دونی همه اتفاق‌های این رمان می‌تونه کاملاً واقعی باشه و از طرفی روانت گنجایش این همه زن‌ستیزی رو نداره خوندنش رو سخت می‌کنه.
بعدش یاد مصاحبه هوشنگ گلمکانی با ترانه علیدوستی افتادم که درباره بیانیه هشتصد امضا باهاش حرف می‌زنه. همون اوایل مصاحبه (چون راستش شعور پایین گلمکانی درباره مسائل زنان اجازه نداد تا آخر ببینمش) از ترانه علیدوستی می‌پرسه چرا فقط خشونت علیه زنان؟ چرا علیه همه نه؟ مگه مردها خشونت نمی‌بینن؟ شما به تساوی اعتقاد دارین ولی فقط برای حقوق زنان مبارزه می‌کنین. خلاصه که آره دنیای جالبیه.
Profile Image for Samantha  Basalari.
20 reviews66 followers
June 21, 2019
(If you want something general, don't read this, I'll spoil it)
In the beginning, Firdaus’ uncle is semi progressive. He reads to her and sends her to school. He isn’t completely bad until he atrociously takes advantage of the person who needs him the most. In the novel, Saadawi illustrates how men are torn between progress and the backlash of their own sexual frustration and need for power. There is a lot of preaching, little enforcement, and women are mistreated and silenced by societal expectations and fear. Exploitation without consequence is a constant in the novel because men are tyrants of their households. Though it’s behind closed doors, Saadawi seems to suggest that society imprisons both men and women. Men fear being revealed as disgraceful, but because there are no constraints on their power, they act disgracefully. Meanwhile, women are treated as though they should be ashamed for existing. It shouldn’t be shocking that the absence of any power dynamic between gender causes corruption. What’s grossly ironic is that religion aims for equality and fairness, but is often used as an excuse for the corrupt to gain power, which is precisely what causes people to become angry and violent. The reader gets a sense of Saadawi’s own anger, agony, and desire to “wake up” society. Among many things, the book highlights the dire consequences of censorship- this is a bold and brave message because the media does not criticize religion in Egypt.
Abuse and oppression aren’t going anywhere, but Saadawi reveals that those who are exploited are not broken. In the end, Firdaus no longer hopes for anything, but she also does not fear anything. She does not sign the petition to the President and decides to challenge death. Firdaus has no fear of death, challenges it, and becomes a symbol of struggle against injustice. “I realized that I had been afraid, and that the fear had been within me all the time until the fleeting moment when I read fear in his eyes.” This book is not glorifying (justified) murder, it expresses that fear causes irresponsibility and immorality. This killing scene is a killing of fear, injustice, double morality and hypocrisy.
In our numerical system, Zero is the base, but it’s also capable of expressing massive sums. The number represents a paradoxical truth: having nothing to lose is a lot like having power. Today, we have progressive, aware women who are fighting against religious fundamentalism and it’s connection to political power. However, there are also many women who are unaware of their rights, and this number grows because of the effects of societal attempts to control. At the end of the day, the human struggle for progress boils down to these two trends. Saadawi reminds us that we should never attempt to “protect” ourselves from what’s messy, dark and broken. It is in our best interest to look deeper.
Profile Image for Sophie.
661 reviews
March 26, 2019
Προσφέρεται ξεκάθαρα για ανάγνωση στη γιορτή του Αγίου Βαλεντίνου.
Profile Image for Claire.
650 reviews279 followers
August 21, 2016
Nawal El Saadawi is an internationally renowned writer, novelist and fighter for woman's rights, who was born in a village outside Cairo, Egypt. When she was practicing as a psychiatrist in the 1970's she had the opportunity while conducting research into the neurosis of Egyyptian women, to meet with a woman who had been imprisoned for killing a man, a woman who was to be executed by hanging. The woman had refused to speak to anyone until that point, had also refused to sign an appeal to the President so that her sentence might be commuted to life imprisonment.

After days of refusal, just as she was leaving the prison for the last time, the Doctor told her the woman had agreed to meet her. They spent as many hours as were left of that day together, the woman recounting her the story of her life that had lead to that moment. El Saadawi left at the end of that day, never to see her again. She would be executed by hanging, her story absorbed by El Saadawi who would eventually put it to paper, in this telling of Firdaus, Woman at Point Zero.

From her early days, Firdaus was one who was noticed, though rarely looked out for, cruelty and neglect made up her childhood, rescued by an Uncle who'd already crossed filial boundaries, her one respite to be sent by him to school, his new wife further insisting she live there, perhaps the only paradisaical period of her life, the one time she was left alone to flourish, to evolve.

Finding no place for her in her Uncle's home, still a teenager she is forced to marry the more than 60 yr old Uncle of her Aunt, runs from him and is taken in by another only to suffer worse abuse, a fate she seems destined to continue to live until she meets Sharifa, who takes her in and teaches her her value, a turning point in her awareness from which she will change her fate.
'How is it possible to live? Life is so hard?'
'You must be harder than life, Firdaus. Life is very hard. The only people who really live are those who are harder than life itself.'
'But you are not hard, Sharifa, so how do you manage to live?'
'I am hard, terribly hard, Firdaus.'
'No, you are gentle and soft.'
'My skin is soft, but my heart is cruel, and my bite deadly.'
'Like snake?'
'Yes, exactly like a snake. Life is a snake. They are the same, Firdaus. If the snake realises you are not a snake, it will bite you. And if life knows you have no sting, it will devour you.'

She will learn the value of her flesh, of her person and how to ensure she is rewarded for it, she will find a measure of independence, but wishes not to be beholden to man. She becomes an employee and discovers a world where women are held in even lower esteem, in many ways more a slave than a prostitute.

At various moments in her life, she experiences a feeling that might be love, that could have been love, but each time it fades to illusion, leaving a dark shadow on her heart.
But I expected something from love. With love I began to imagine I had become a human being...In love, I gave all: my capabilities, my efforts, my my feelings, my deepest emotions; Like a saint, I gave everything I had without ever counting the cost. I wanted nothing, nothing at all, except perhaps one thing. To be saved through love from it all. To find myself again, to recover the self I had lost.To become a human being who was not looked upon with scorn, or despised, but respected, and cherished and made to feel whole.

Her story and those moments are narrated in spell-binding, lyrical prose with a compassionate sensitivity that underpins a tale of one woman's life long oppression and desire to lift herself out of it and to put a stop to the cause of that oppression, to face the truth without fear, which she ultimately will do so, through death, her absolute refusal to live, her fearlessness of death.

Profile Image for أميرة.
132 reviews166 followers
January 19, 2016
من الطرائف في مجتمعاتنا العربية أنه بدلا من مناقشة مشاكلنا والبحث عن أسبابها وكيفية حلها، يتم الاستخفاف بمثيري المشاكل وإسكاتهم تجنبا لبذل الجهد ووجع الدماغ. المثال الكلاسيكي لذلك هو قضية المرأة. حالهاعندنا -مقارنة بدول العالم الأول والثالث- متردي دون شك، ولا يجادل في ذلك عاقل. مؤشرات الفجوة مخزية بين الجنسين في الحصول على الخدمات التعليمية والصحية والتمكين الاقتصادي والسياسي في منطقتنا الحبيبة التي تُعرف في علم الاجتماع بمنطقة الحزام الأبوي. Patriarchal Belt
فترتيب مصر مثلا هذا العام في مؤشر الفجوة بين الجنسين الذي يعده المنتدى الاقتصادي العالمي هو 136 من أصل 145 دولة! وتسبقنا دول افريقية ولاتينية نامية كثيرة. هذا هو مربط الفرس، فلما يُطرح للنقاش، يتم تنحيته جانبا على أنه نسوية ومؤامرة لكراهية الرجال.
640px 2013 Gender gap index world map, Gender In

"2013 Gender gap index world map, Gender Inequality Distribution" by M Tracy Hunter - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
نأتي لنوال السعداوي. فبينما تدلي بدلوها فيما ليس لها فيه علم وتستخدم نظريات فرويدية عفا عليها الزمن وتكتب أدبا رديئا، يتم استغلالها لضرب قضية المرأة في مقتل، شأنها في ذلك شأن منى الطحاوي وآذر نفيسي وآيان حرسي علي. وبدلا من مناقشتها فيما تطرحه من مشاكل (ختان الإناث كان إحداها في هذا العمل مثلا، وبالمناسبة تقرير اليونيسيف الأخير يشير إلى أن أكثر من 90% من سيدات مصر مختنات) يتم اتهامها بالجنون أو "الكبت". وهي أقدم حيلة لإسكات المرأة في مجتمعنا وكانت تستخدم في مجتمعات أخرى أيضا، حتى أن النساء "المتمردات" كان يتم احراقهن أحياء لكونهن "ساحرات" حتى القرن الثامن عشر في أوروبا. أن تتهمها بعدم العقلانية أو عدم الاشباع الجنسي (مش عارفة ايه العلاقة؟) أو الخشونة "مسترجلة" لتجنب مناقشة أفكارها مناقشة موضوعية هي أفضل طريقة لاخافة من تخاف. وهو ما لا يحدث مع الرجال بالطبع فيما يطرحونه من أفكار، مهما كان كلاما فارغا. فأقصى ما نتهم به الرجال ممن نختلف معهم هو الالحاد، وهو على ما فيه من إجحاف إلا أنه لا يسلبه العقلانية كما يحدث مع المرأة التي تناقشنا فيما لا نحب. كما لا يتم اقحام حياته الشخصية -ناهيك عن الجنسية- في النقاش.
وبينما ندفن رؤوسنا في الرمال بدلا من البحث عن حلول عملية لمشاكلنا، يتم التهليل لمثل نوال السعداوي من البعض في الغرب ممن تدغدغ مشاعرهم اللطميات عن النساء العربيات والمسلمات وتُشعر دافعي الضرائب ببعض من راحة البال للتغاضي عن الخسائر في الأرواح والأموال الذي يسببه التدخل السياسي والعسكري في المنطقة.
وأخيرا، هل هذا الكتاب بالذات سيء؟ نعم. لا أعرف مهارات نوال السعداوي كطبيبة، ولكنها من أكثر ممن أضروا بقضايا المرأة وخاصة الحقوقية منها. هذا لا يعني بالطبع أنه ليس لدينا مشاكل فيما يخص المرأة وكثير منها أثارته نوال السعداوي وغيرها وإن لم يوفقن في الطرح.

للاطلاع على التقرير كاملا http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GGGR2015...
Profile Image for Raquel Casas.
281 reviews178 followers
June 20, 2020
«Cuando la calle se convierte en tu modo de vida, ya no esperas nada, no pones esperanzas en nada. Pero yo esperaba algo del amor. Cuando me enamoré, empecé a imaginar que me había convertido en un ser humano. Cuando era prostituta no daba nada gratis, siempre pedía algo a cambio. Pero cuando me enamoré, entregué mi cuerpo y mi alma, mi mente y todos los esfuerzos de que era capaz, a cambio de nada.»
Hay personajes que dejan huella, que hablan de una manera profunda que cala hondo, que pasan a formar parte de nuestro acervo lector y de nuestra propia historia vital y Firdaus, la protagonista de este libro, es uno de ellos. Su testimonio se lee conteniendo la respiración, sintiendo en nuestro cuerpo cada uno de los golpes que recibe, dejando caer, como ella, un nuevo velo de nuestros ojos ante las realidades crudas, brutales y reales que nos cuenta.
Ayer, mi amiga-librera @alina_zarekaite de @lib_mujeres, me comentaba que este libro lo sugerían como contrapunto a «Teoría King Kong» de Despentes por la forma en la que Nawal El Saadawi aborda el tema de la prostitución a través de Firdaus, una mujer a la conoció en la cárcel de Qanatir (El Cairo) en 1973.
La prostitución como única forma que encontró Firdaus de ser una mujer libre, tras intentar varias veces ser «respetable», tras comprender «que el matrimonio era un sistema basado en el más cruel sufrimiento para las mujeres» y que «la menos engañada de todas las mujeres era la prostituta». Una decisión dura que ella sobrelleva con dignidad hasta que descubre que, ni como prostituta, «ellos» la dejan disponer de su propio cuerpo.
Inolvidable, Firdaus.
Profile Image for Mark Rizk Farag.
83 reviews63 followers
September 23, 2021
A true, succinct, emotive, passionate, comprehensive story. A call to arms. An impassioned plea. A war cry for the downtrodden women of the middle east. An admonishment of their oppressors.

The book was short, but it got its point across. Like walking across hot coal, a sharp slap or a cold shower.

I found myself forced out of my privileged perspective, an Egyptian man in the west and thrust into the life and plight of Firdaus, a prostitute in Egypt, a victim of her society.

And now I cannot continue as I was, naive of the plight of women in Egypt. I cannot feign ignorance.

What is the saddest thing about the story in book? Well. Based on the way that Egyptian censorship works and based on the preface.... Its not a story. Its not fiction at all.

The book was highly quotable and had crisp prose. Probably one of the best Egyptian fiction books I've read.

Highly recommended to all readers interested in Egyptian feminism, Egyptian literature, feminism more broadly and short fiction.
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