When a Woman Walks the Streets: The Female Challenge to Public Space in Nawal El Saadawi’s Woman at Point Zero


Nawal El Saadawi's novel Woman at Point Zero examines a character named Firdaus, a peasant girl who tries to negotiate a role of independence for herself in mid-to-late 20th century Cairo. Briefly forced into a bad marriage, and unable to get a university education along with any sustaining employment, Firdaus resorts to earning her wages as a prostitute, an occupation she ironically comes to admire for the power it gives her over men. Yet her job as a prostitute along with her ongoing attempts to remain independent in a male-dominated world have another unexpected effect. She is forced to renegotiate and challenge a male-defined public space. Along with being a compelling portrait of a woman trying to maintain her independence, Woman at Point Zero is also a text that delineates and maps how gender comes in conflict with public space and how gender negotiates and challenges it.

Author Information
Kenneth DiMaggio, Capital Community College, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2018
Stream: Humanities - Sexuality, Gender, Families

This paper is part of the ACAH2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon