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Nawal el Saadawi Quotes

  • Yet not for a single moment did I have any doubts about my own integrity and honour as a woman. I knew that my profession had been invented by men, and that men were in control of both our worlds, the one on earth, and the one in heaven. That men force women to sell their bodies at a price, and that the lowest paid body is that of a wife. All women are prostitutes of one kind or another. — Woman At Point Zero
  • I knew I hated him as only a woman can hate a man, as only a slave can hate his master. — Woman At Point Zero
  • She replied that it was precisely men well versed in religion who beat their wives. The precepts of religion permitted such punishment. A virtuous woman was not supposed to complain about her husband. Her duty was perfect obedience. — Woman At Point Zero
  • I now knew that all of us were prostitutes who sold themselves at varying prices, and that an expensive prostitute was better than a cheap one. — Woman At Point Zero
  • 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. —Woman At Point Zero
  • 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. — Woman At Point Zero
  • Revolutionary men with principles were not really different from the rest. They used their cleverness to get, in return for principles, what other men buy with their money. — Woman At Point Zero
  • 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, dragging me up and down with it. — Woman At Point Zero
  • My work is not worthy of respect. Why then do you join in it with me? — Woman At Point Zero
  • They said, “You are a savage and dangerous woman.” I am speaking the truth. And the truth is savage and dangerous. — Woman At Point Zero
  • Writing: such has been my crime ever since I was a small child. To this day writing remains my crime. Now, although I am out of prison, I continue to live inside a prison of another sort, one without steel bars. For the technology of oppression and might without justice has become more advanced, and the fetters imposed on mind and body have become invisible. The most dangerous shackles are the invisible ones, because they deceive people into believing they are free. This delusion is the new prison that people inhabit today, north and south, east and west…We inhabit the age of the technology of false consciousness, the technology of hiding truths behind amiable humanistic slogans that may change from one era to another…Democracy is not just freedom to criticize the government or head of state, or to hold parliamentary elections. True democracy obtains only when the people – women, men, young people, children – have the ability to change the system of industrial capitalism that has oppressed them since the earliest days of slavery: a system based on class division, patriarchy, and military might, a hierarchical system that subjugates people merely because they are born poor, or female, or dark-skinned. — Memoirs from the Women’s Prison
  • What we require is not a formal return to tradition and religion, but a rereading, a reinterpretation, of our history that can illuminate the present and pave the way to a better future. For example, if we delve more deeply into ancient Egyptian and African civilisations we will discover the humanistic elements that were prevalent in many areas of life. Women enjoyed a high status and rights, which they later lost when class patriarchal society became the prevalent social system.
  • Interviewer: What would you say to a woman in this country who assumes she is no longer oppressed, who believes women’s liberation has been achieved?

el Saadawi: Well I would think she is blind. Like many people who are blind to gender problems, to class problems, to international problems. She’s blind to what’s happening to her.

  • Here the oppression of women is very subtle. If we take female circumcision, the excision of the clitoris, it is done physically in Egypt. But here it is done psychologically and by education. So even if women have the clitoris, the clitoris was banned; it was removed by Freudian theory and by the mainstream culture.
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