The title and topic discussed is borrowed from the book by Nawal El Saadawi Woman At Ground Zero. If you have not read it then read it.
A prostitute is defined as a person most likely (but men also do it) a woman who engages in sexual acts in exchange for money. During Seminal Readings todays we were talking about the Chapter found in Saadawi’s book and tried to deconstruct it by looking at her life and the choices she made and the tragic choices that were made for her.
The character of the book is a woman called Firdaus and she goes through a series of unfortunate events in her life. Her mother circumcised her at the age of ten, she was sexually abused by her father and her uncle and then went on to marry a man forty years older than her whom physically and emotionally abused her until she ran away. She had completed her highschool education and had her National Certificate but she found herself on the street and went into prostitution. She goes on to become a prominent, highly paid and sought after prostitute. A master in her profession.
Trouble begins for Fidaus when she starts being harassed by a man who wants to be her Pimp, Firdaus was different she was an independent woman and worked for no one but herself so the thought of serving yet another man to her was unimaginable although she ends up working for him against her own will. She eventually kills this man and through his murder obtains full freedom and gains truth.
I personally feel for the woman her story is tragic but yet I cannot help but feel that maybe she could have still chosen not to be a prostitute whose aim was to give pleasure to the very men who controlled her and her life. However her story represents how some women are oppressed or feel oppressed even up till now in the Arab world. I say some because I feel that as a society we have decided that every woman should be ‘free’ and ‘independent’ we feel that this is every woman’s right. The danger here is that us as a society have come together and agreed on this to be a common truth but our common truth may not be every Arab women or any woman’s truth. There are women who feel that is nothing wrong with getting married to a man and staying at home to look after the children. There are women who feel that they want to wear the Hijab because they believe in it not because they have been told to do so by a man or a society that wants to control them. So yes I advocate for equality but I have come to realise that sometimes what you think is right for someone or for a people may not necessarily be what they want.
Furthermore, this book made me think of something that we unfortunately never got to discuss in our group today. Objectification of women. I do not deny the fact that men over the years have greatly contributed to the sexual objectification of women, using women’s sex appeal to advertise cars and alcohol reducing a woman to mere a object that should be used as a way to sell products or as an object that will grant a man respect amongst his peers. But over the years especially the twentieth and twenty first century women have begun to objectify themselves as sexual objects.
Today you switch on the TV and you find Miley Cyrus swinging on a ball half naked licking on it. You see a sixteen year old girl “getting down to shake that booty” as ASAP Rocky’s song Dance plays. You see a twenty two year old girl wearing a tang top with no bra with shorts that expose everything. Then you hear the girl say “I wonder why no guy takes me seriously?” or you hear the female activists blaming men for perpetuating sexual objectification of women as a way to hinder women from progressing to become equal and independent.
Although the system may be controlled by men the choices you make no matter the circumstance are always yours. And arguably I understand that some unfortunate cases you have no choice but the world should stop constantly trying to push the picture of women as the victims because this only makes them appear even more weak. I admit some women are abused, molested and worse but we should tell the whole truth not magnify only on a part of it when we tell the story of women. Talk about the women who suffered and survived, talk about the women who abuse their own men, talk about the women who want a man in their lives to submit to, talk about the women who are assailants instead of victims, talk about the heroines.
Let not your daughter or your niece grow up thinking all she is to a man is an object or a victim. Let her know she can chose what she wants to be no matter what situation she may be in. Let her know her know the whole truth that not all women are prostitutes.