Activism, Advocacy, and Rebellion: Arab Women Through the Work of Nawal El Saadawi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Shame has been often been argued as a culturally bound emotion, which can affect a country’s citizens to varying degrees. Arab societies are often regarded as being heteronormative, masculinist, and patriarchal. These cultures are themselves in turn often synonymous with shame narratives associated with the suppression of women and sexuality. Arab women have therefore been gazed upon as objects or chattel among Arab societies and Arab men, leading to heavy critique being delivered by the Western World against the lack of emancipation and sexual freedom Arab women are seemingly able to have agency over. Having been suppressed and also having been viewed as suppressed subjects of society, we may question how authentically Arab women may lead their lives, and truly fulfil their sexual desires. The Arab World has, however, recently experienced huge political, economic, and social upheaval, most notably recognisable as the ‘Arab Spring’. Decades of political stagnation caused by petulant and immovable dictatorships came to an end across much of the Arab World, fuelled by violent uprisings by the public. Generally, it was younger members of these societies who grew frustrated with the lack of future thinking by their governments. They communicated their dismay and organised themselves for demonstrations via social media, whilst also using it as a platform to reach the Western World’s mass media. After the uprisings, new governments were formed across much of the Arab World, but Arab women found themselves with little extra freedom, but a greater hunger to rebel. This chapter will explore the reclamation of sexuality by Arab women and how their rebellion against centuries of suppression is tackling the culture of shame in which they continue to exist.
Original languageEnglish
EditorsClaude-Hélène Mayer, Elisabeth Vanderheiden, Orna Braun-Lewensohn, Gila Chen, Kiyoko Sueda, Brightness Mangolothi, Saba Safdar, Soyeon Kim
PublisherSpringer Nature Switzerland AG
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-25924-1
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-25923-4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2023


  • Women Empowerment
  • Education
  • Women offenders
  • social justice
  • Arab Women
  • Feminism
  • Arab Culture
  • gender and health
  • Gender/Identity


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