Patriarchy-induced sexual violence and trauma in Nawal Saadawi’s Woman at point Zero
Literary representations of patriarchy have shown the destructive effects of male-chauvinism on women. Most existing studies on patriarchal oppression highlight physical abuses and assaults on women, undermining the psychological injuries suffered by such women. Domestic violence and sexual exploitation have been identified by African writers as some of the common manifestations of patriarchal subjugation. This essay examines the literary portrayal of the repressive experiences of patriarchy in the form of domestic violence and sexual exploitation, which culminates in traumatic memories. Saadawi’s novel, Woman at Point Zero, is subjected to critical, qualitative analysis, highlighting traumatic memories induced by sexual exploitation and patriarchal coercion. The critical discussion of the text focuses on the utterances and conducts of the characters, especially the protagonist, Firdaus who battles with repressive experiences in a male-dominated environment. Caruth’s Trauma Theory is adopted in this study to account for the gradual process of Firdaus’ plunging into deep despair. The textual analysis reveals that social factors like the repressive manifestations of patriarchy in the form of domestic violence and sexual exploitation are capable of engendering trauma in women.