“In Camera” by Nawal El Saadawai

Nawal El Saadawi, an Egyptian novelist, is portraying the concept of interdependence in her work “In Camera”, in which she refers to the oppressed woman’s situation within the contemporary Arab-Islamic society. Saadawi tells us the story about Leila Al-Fargani, a young interdependent woman, living in the constrained civilization where she, as all other women, was restricted to participate in political issues, educational learning as well as the labor market. “Her mother always used to say to her: What’s politics got to do with you? You’re not a man. Girls of your age think only about marriage” (1109). The Arabic traditional customs’, in which the male served as the supremacy, rather expected the women to serve “feminine” duties in a form of house- and child care. After expressing her opinions regarding the Presidents norms, which she opposed, Leila is to serve in prison. While imprisoned, Leila becomes the victim of tortures and abuses by groups of men.

Saadawi demonstrates gender discrimination with this story, in which women are relegated to secondary status, and such governmental status quo is still to be found in the current civilization. “Politics is a dirty game which only ineffectual men play” (1109). The patriarchal society questions the power of individuality, and the concern of such gender stereotypes is ignored. The weakened position of women is to be expected, reinforced by, in this case, the Arabic social and cultural norms and therefore, only men had the right to express themselves politically. “Foolishness means that he doesn’t think, that he’s mindless, that he’s an animal. That’s the worst thing you can call an ordinary man. All the more so if he’s a ruler” (1114). The value of women is no more than an expectation of serving as a housewife, and obey and respect her husband. This historical, social concern, yet existing in our contemporary society, is by Saadawai questioning the human rights, and the essential element of freedom in life. The understanding of self is examined, and the concept of interdependence is to characterize this gender discrimination. Such interpretation is clearly demonstrated by Saadawi, who wrote “In Camera” based on her own life experiences from an Arab-Islamic world that “only wanted males”.