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Between Rites and RightsExcision in Women's Experiential Texts and Human Contexts$
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Chantal Zabus

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780804756877

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804756877.001.0001

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On Spurious Geneses

On Spurious Geneses

Nawal El Saadawi

(p.97) Five On Spurious Geneses
Between Rites and Rights
Stanford University Press

Nawal El Saadawi denounced excision as a medically dangerous practice intended to control female sexuality. She is the first woman writer to provide a first-person account of her own excision in her novel The Hidden Face of Eve ([1980] 1995). In The Hidden Face of Eve, El Saadawi invokes the Perfection of Creation and its corollary corporal logic, according to which Allah meant the clitoris to remain intact. Sami Al-Deeb Abu-Sahlieh, an expert in Islamic law who wanted both male circumcision and female excision eradicated, has accused El Saadawi of not speaking on the issue of male circumcision. El Saadawi later cited censorship as the reason for her silence in the late 1970s. El Saadawi's invocation of the ancestral memory, mediated by Qur'anic exegesis, and the personal memory of excision appears to redress the wrongs in this ritual practice. Her maternalist rehabilitation of two female figures, Eve and Isis, in The Hidden Face of Eve prepares the reader for what seems to be an incongruous intervention of autobiographical memory.

Keywords:   Nawal El Saadawi, excision, circumcision, The Hidden Face of Eve, Perfection of Creation, Sami Al-Deeb Abu-Sahlieh, ancestral memory

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