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Exploring the context of Woman at Point Zero

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nhu le

on 1 May 2014

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Transcript of Exploring the context of Woman at Point Zero

Nawal El Saadawi
Women In Egyptian Society
Working women:
men did not want women in the workplace
were given low position jobs
men took advantage of working women
the home was the expected workplace for women
Radwa Ashour
· Her female characters have loud, clear voices that can never be missed
·They express more than bursts of emotions or relationships with men
Egyptian Society during
the 1970s
General Facts:

Male-dominated society (a man's world)
Politics were dominated by men
Tradition and Religion greatly influenced the way people lived
Lack of education for women
Laws that treated women as second class citizens
Exploring the Cultural Context of Woman at Point Zero

A woman
must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies”
-Radwa Ashour
Time and Place

Woman at Point Zero took place during the 1970s in Egypt
Time and place plays a crucial role
These factors drive the main conflict of the novel
Major Conflict: Firdaus's struggle to attain some sort of dignity as she grows up
Some of her topics include:
· marginalization of women
· conflict between modernity or secularism, and the traditional ways in Egypt
“My characters are women who have committed crimes as a result of their unfavorable living conditions.”

Salwa Bakr
Egyptian feminist, sociologist, physician and militant writer
based her books on gender inequality within the Arab world
Wrote over 40 books throughout her lifetime
Stood up for what she believed was right, even though she was targeted multiple times for doing so

“I had to study
medicine to get
rid of it. I have to
know politics in
order to change
were expected to be at the mercy of men
men were not punished but women were
Change in the Role of Women in Egyptian Society

Family structures have changed over the decades
At least one out of every 5 households is supported and headed by a woman
More women are able to receive educations
Women are more active in politics
ex)Eva Habil -the first woman
mayor of Egypt
Cultural Ritual:
Female Genital Mutilation
What is Female Genital Mutilation?
It can involve either:
· Clitoridectomy
· Infibulation
Women in the Qur'an
In Islamic belief, women are valued
In the Qur’an, there is an emphasis on the equality of men and women (i.e. equal punishment)

“The men and women of the hypocrites are as bad as one another. They command what is wrong and forbid what is right, and they keep their fists tightly closed. They have forgotten Allah, so He has forgotten them. The hypocrites are deviators.” (Surat at-Tawba: 67)

Women and Education in Egypt
Two million women in Egypt have never attended school
The number of girls outside the educational system is double that of boys
Such obstacles can be linked to traditions, incorrectly constructed and incorporated into the religious context.
Works Cited
Ideology Behind FGM

*There’s no anesthesia or numbing involved and
conditions are usually not hygienic.

· A WHO report attempting to enumerate the extent of FGM had estimated that between 100 million and 140 million women and girls had undergone some form of the procedure.

§ More than 90 million of them living in Africa.
§ On that continent, the procedure was thought to be performed on approximately 3 million girls each year.

· 91% of Egyptian girls have had this procedure done.
There’s no religious reasoning behind this nor is there any health benefits. It’s strictly a cultural practice.

FGM is often motivated by beliefs about what is considered proper sexual behavior, linking procedures to premarital virginity and marital fidelity. FGM is believed to help women resist "illicit" sexual acts. It reduces a woman’s sexual desire and lessen temptations to have extramarital sex thereby preserving a girl’s virginity.

FGM is often deemed necessary in order for a girl to be considered a complete woman
marks the divergence of the sexes in terms of their future roles in life and marriage
enhance a girl’s femininity, often synonymous with docility and obedience.

FGM reflects gender roles and social values that are entrenched in Egyptian society.
-It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes
- It constitutes an extreme form of discrimination
against women
- It permanently marks women as second class

Amer, Kholoud Said. “Feminist Reading on ‘Women’s Voices in Radwa Ashour’s Farag’.” Alex Salon.N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014

Oktar, Adnan. “Maryam: An Exemplary Muslim Woman.” Woman In the Qur’an. Harun Yahya International, 2005. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Woman at Point Zero.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2006. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.

Mende, Claudia. “The Voice of the Marginalized.” Qantara. Quantara.de, 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

Philiptchenko, Tatiana. “Interview with Salwa Bakr.” Egyptian Women of the Revolution. N.p., 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

“Qu’est-ce que les mutilations génitales féminines?” Amnesty International. Amnesty International, 2014. Web. 26 Apr. 2014.

“Female Genital Mutilation.” WHO. World Health Organization, 2014. Web. 26 Apr. 2014.

Boseley, Sarah. “What is Female Genital Mutilation and Where Does It Happen?” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 6 February 2014. Web. 26 Apr. 2014.

Religion Vs. Culture

This belief has been twisted in modern culture so that it is different from its intended purpose
Woman are seen as incapable of doing what men can do so men are lead to believe that women are less than what they are.
Some interpret the religion in their own way, instead of the right way.
Religion=opposite of culture and society

Contradiction to Islamic Beliefs
“Every Friday morning he would put on a clean galabeya and head for the mosque to attend the weekly prayer...was it not verily true that...defaming the honor of a woman was a sin, and injustice was a sin, and beating another human being was a sin…?”
Firdaus sees the religious hypocrisy as her father abuses his wife and family while participating in holy practices
“His voice was low, with a slight hoarseness which
reminded me of my father. After he had eaten
his meal, and beaten my mother and calmed down…”
(pg. 46)
Domestic abuse is contradictory to the practices of pure Islamic faith
Domestic violence in the context of marriage affects at least 28 percent of Egyptian woman, causing untold emotional and physical damage.
Education in Woman at Point Zero

Firdaus was only allowed to get a secondary school education; anything more would have been considered unethical.
Pg. 36 “ To university? To a place where she will be sitting side by side with men? A respected Sheikh and a man of religion like myself sending his niece off to mix in the company of men?! “
At the time women were expected to get married and start a family rather than pursue a higher education.
Pg. 36 “ If he marries Firdaus she will have a good life with him, and he can find in her an obedient wife, who will serve and relive his holiness. Firdaus is grown your holiness, and must be married. It is risky for her to continue without a husband.”
This along with other societal standards is
what ultimately led to Firdaus becoming a prostitute.
Jaquette, Elisabeth. “Salwa Bakr on ‘Women and Arabic Literature’.” Arabic Literature (In English).
N.p., 18 November 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

"Biography." Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. <http://www.nawalsaadawi.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=34&Itemid=54>.

"Women in Ancient Egyptian Society.". N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2014. <http://www.datehookup.com/content-women-in-egyptian-society.htm>.

"The Status of Women in Egyptian Society." The Role of Women in Ancient Egypt. N.p,, 5 Jan. 2012. Web. 27 Apr. 2014. <http://www.library.cornell.edu/colldev/mideast/womneg.htm>.


Lack of Employment for Women
“Among His signs is that He created spouses for
you of your own kind, so that you might find tranquility in them. And He has placed affection and compassion between you.” (Surat ar-Rum: 21)

This verse promotes peace, affection, and kindness between spouses.
young women are faced with difficulties from new labor market entrants, deployed school-to-work transition, and low quality jobs
women are more dependent on government in search of jobs
they are less likely to acquire job methods using private sector employment, acquiring work location or contracting an employer
women also suffer from limited social connections compared to men
Egypt is ranked 122 out of 135 countries in terms of women economic participation and opportunities -due to Egyptian labor market
Women were not equally represented in positions of economic and political leadership, have less pay than men, and higher unemployment rates
Modern Day
Sexual Harassment
Egypt Sexual Harassment
sexual harassment has become a weapon of war against women
Eighty three percent of Egyptian women report having experienced sexual harassment.
Ninety-eight percent of foreign women reported having experienced sexual harassment while in Egypt.
Sixty-two percent of Egyptian men admitted to having committed sexual harassment.
Egyptian women are touched and propositioned by sometimes more than one man at a time.
Contradiction to Islamic Belief
In 2008, Egypt became the first country in the Muslim World to appoint a female wedding officer (Maazun) to undertake Muslim marriage procedures
The proportion of women holding public office increased from 7 percent in 1988 to 23.5 percent in 2003
Women account for 49 percent of students enrolled in universities and higher education institutions
Total enrollment rate of females in all the stages of pre-university education showed higher levels than those for male enrollment in 2004-2005
Great Changes

another form of prostitution

* Pregnancy was very important to ancient Egyptian women. Being able to bare children was considered being successful. By becoming pregnant, women gained the respect of society, their husband's approval, and admiration from woman that could not bare children.
* Husbands that had sterile wives either divorced them or opted for adoption.

many feminist movements
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