Woman at Point Zero

by Nawal El Saadawi

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Analyze Woman at Point Zero as a sociological novel.

Quick answer:

Woman at Point Zero is a sociological novel because it brings attention to the problems with gender inequality in Egyptian society. El Saadawi critiques pervasive sexism, violence against women, and the hypocrisy of religious men.

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A sociological novel is a novel that emphasizes the need for social change. In Woman at Point Zero, Nawal El Saadawi brings attention to several issues stemming from gender inequality, like violence against women. Recall how Fidarus endures genital mutilation. This is a serious issue that robs women of agency over their bodies and the opportunity for physical pleasure. In featuring Fidarus’s experience with it, El Saadawi criticizes the practice.

El Saadawi also critiques the lack of financial freedom for women. She shows how Fidarus’s work as a prostitute was her only opportunity for financial independence. While Fidarus was briefly empowered by the work, it is problematic that her only opportunity for financial agency was intertwined with sexual violence and social rejection. El Saadwi's presentation of pervasive sexism suggests that there is a dire need for women's rights in Egyptian society.

El Saadawi also brings attention to the hypocrisy of many religious men. For instance, Fidarus’s father is very religious and says that beating your wife is sinful, yet he does it anyway. So many other men in Fidarus’s life are also devout and yet still engage in extremely patriarchal behavior. In highlighting such blatant hypocrisy, El Saadawi critiques how men often use religion as a façade to maintain their grip on oppressive power.

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