Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Nawal Saadawi

“I killed Scheherazade” by Joumana Haddad

“Let me warn you from the start:  I don’t facilitate life.  If you are reading this book with prejudices such as: truths that you think you do know; proofs that you think you have gathered; being confronted with your vision of the orient; being reassured of your anti-Arab prejudices; hoping to read of the constant civilization clash; confirmations of your Arab women idiosyncrasies then, stop reading here and there.”

Joumana Haddad had published a magazine on women erotic body called “Jassad” or Body.

A foreign woman journalist asked Joumana in 2008: “How an Arab woman came to publish an Arabic magazine as controversial as Jassad? Most western people cannot imagine that there exist Arab Women as liberated as you are.”   Joumana replied defensively: “I don’t view myself as exceptional.  There are plenty of liberated Arab women.  If the western people ignore our existence, as you mentioned, then it is your problem, not ours.

That day, Joumana felt upset and she had the idea of going through all the fragments of her articles, personal notes, and ventured into the job of writing and publishing this book.

Joumana has the phobia of the whistling sound of incoming missiles or cannon balls.  She has no love affair with Beirut since she never crossed to West Beirut during the 15 years of civil war and because Beirut has no longer any particular culture.

I had the impression from the comments of the dailies that this book is an autobiography or a serious introspection study.  The book is fundamentally a set of essays on women, Arabs and non-Arabs.   They are good essays:  For example, you have essays on:

Young Arab woman reading Sade’s books” beginning with writer May Ziade‘s saying: “Books are the unique places where two strangers can meet in complete intimacy”;

“Women Arabs with no homeland” and the saying of Fatima Mernissi: “Absence of clear vision for the future is one of the main tragic obstacles confronting Arabs”;

“Arab women writing erotic poems” and starting with Nawal Saadawi saying: “A better world is impossible as long as our spirit, our body, and our language on women are not liberated“;

“Arab woman creating a magazine on the body”;

“Arab woman redefining its femininity” starting with the saying of Khalida Said: ” Not a single change in the hierarchy of power, actions against satanizing of women,  her exclusion from the workforce, education and centers of struggle is feasible as long as women have not entered the fields of activities, shouldered by her will, and her individual choice”;

“Arab woman not fearing provoking Allah” beginning with Wajeha Al-Huwaider saying: “I will continue demanding the rights of Saudi women as long as Saudi men are not brought to police stations for driving cars, women denied wearing comfortable garment, men not wearing veils and black cloths, and men having but two locations: Home and the tomb”;

“Arab woman saying NO and living it” introduced by Fadwa Touqan’s saying “I will never cease being free; I will chant the desires of my spirit in chains and my face rubbing in earth; my chant will pour out from the deep”

“Am I an Arab woman?”  Many women wear whatever they want, go wherever they desire, say their mind freely, are not illiterate, oppressed, and not submitted.  No men deny us riding cars, bicycles, motorcycle, or airplane.  Many of us are professionals and go to their work; we are active, have great salaries surpassing professional men.

We don’t live in tents, ride camels, and cannot belly dance.  We resemble so much to any foreign women.  Apparently, statistics shows that only 10,000 out of 200 million Arabs read poetry although 4 times that number claim to be poets.

It is good to read essays of May Ziade, Laure Moghaizel, Hoda Chaarawi, Etel Adnan, Mai Ghoussoub, Fatima Mernissi, Khalida Said.  It is interesting to read the novels of Ahdaf Soueif, Alawiya Sobh, Hoda Barakat, Hanan el-Cheikh, and Sahar Khalifeh.  You are encouraged to see the art works of Zaha Hadid, Mona Hatoum, Helen Khal, and Ghada Amer.

It is a joy reading the poems of Joyce Mansour, Saniya Saleh, , Nazek al Malaika, Nadia Tueni, and Fadwa Toukan.

You will thrilled by the pieces of theater of Jalila Bakkar, Raja ben Ammar, Lina Khoury, Darina el-Joundi, and Nidal al-Ashkar.  You will apreciate the movies of Jocelyne Saab, Randa Shahhal, Danielle Arbid, Layla al-Marrakshi.

Would Jumana reaches a stage of awareness for a serious introspection of her limitations, weaknesses, and foibles? I believe introspection is necessary to resuming a career of a writer:  Jumana might later be capable to strive for universality.

If Joumana is writing a diary then this is a fantastic initiation to honestly baring her spirit and sharing with mankind the deepest difficulties that women have to face and challenge.

Note 1:  My 12 year-old niece asked me “why a woman would like to kill Scheherazade?  She told the story of Sindbad and she saved thousands of women who would have died if she were not a good story-teller”

Sure, I will tell Joumana not to try killing Scheherazade again?  I wish I had  Scheherazade to keep me company.

Note 2:  I overheard that Joumana was on the diploma panel of a woman student submitting her final project.  This student displayed her magazine project along with all the necessary details.  Joumana stole the project without the consent of the graduate student and applied it and published it as her own as “Jassad”.




May 2023

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