On March 21, 2021, a savage and dangerous woman died. She was 89 years old. She was a doctor, a writer and a storyteller of the horrible oppression faced by her sisters in the Arab world and beyond.
She was a dissident, a revolutionary, a champion of women’s rights.
But do not call her a feminist. There is no word for feminists in the Arabic language. She was, as she proclaimed on numerous occasions, a fighter in the war for women’s liberation.
You could hear it in her voice, see it in her eyes, a blazing fire that was born from experiencing horrible emotional and physical trauma all because she was born a girl child in a man’s world.
Many called Nawal el Saadawi a scandalous woman who held scandalous beliefs in a part of the world where even the hint of scandal could get you killed. But she did not care. She would not back down. She was relentless in her criticism of geo- political and patriarchal fundamentalist religious systems that kept women in a state of fear, exploitation, and subservience. I call her a mighty force that blew across the Arab world leaving change in her wake.
She marched, she rallied, she stood arm in arm with her fellow revolutionary’s calling out all those who would keep her sisters in bondage.
When was the last time you had to stand up for your beliefs? speak out against something or someone that went against your values? Risked public or personal reprisals for speaking your mind?
Nawal El Saadawi is the bright Lighter who teaches us that it takes immense courage to stand strong in our beliefs and firmly grounded in our values, no matter the cost.
She was a savage and dangerous woman, speaking the truth. And the truth is savage and dangerous.