Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi (1975)
“All the men I did get to know, every single man of them, has filled me with but one desire: to lift my hand and bring it smashing down on his face. But because I am a woman I have never had the courage to lift my hand. And because I am a prostitute, I hid my fear under layers of make-up.”
Fidaus is waiting for her death in prison, after murdering a man. The man she murdered was her pimp. Firdaus has spent many years being a prostitute in Cairo. After growing up in poverty, an abusive uncle and an abusive husband, she realises that by selling her body she is able to free herself from abusive men.
I wanted to almost underline every line in this small, beautiful book. Firdaus is a strong woman who takes each opportunity to free herself from terrible men, although it means that she has to sell herself. Because as a prostitute she has the power to say no to men she doesn’t want. And with the money and the connections she gets, she is able to have a luxurious house.
Nawal El Saadawi has written a few books about women in Egypt. I have already put some more of her works on my wish list.
“‘Everybody has to die. I prefer to die for a crime I have committed rather than to die for one of the crimes which you have committed”.