Memoirs of a Woman Doctor

In consideration of the renowned novel Memoirs of a Woman Doctor by the famous Egyptian feminist writer Nawal el Saadawi, reveals the many contradictions that are embedded in the female gender self-oppressive fight and struggle against any form of patriarchy. The existing interconnection between resistance and oppression greatly indicates how the women's calls for libratory practices are deemed inseparable from the known patriarchal realm. However, there are extremely major flaws in line with the feminist discourse that resides in the eventual configuration of all men and women in line with oppressors and those oppressed. This leads to a subsequent reinscription that hinders the already formidable and socially binaries that are sanctioned on sexual grounds. Reshaping the many relationships that born between men and women in a desired new light of eternal partnership rather than embracing antagonism for an immediate resolution of all the problems that they always face. Thus, it comes out as totally empowering for the renowned feminist writer.

I consider the novel as a thrilling one, which is telling the story of a very young Egyptian girl who is out to search for her identity. Based on her early life, where she managed to salvage many lives, and eventually discover that women are despised and manipulated in society, Nawal el Saadawi, takes a bold step to explain the misfortunes that the girl child may be exposed to and elucidates on the latter’s unheard cry. The writer was forced to wash all the dishes, clean the whole house, and asked to make not only her bed but also her brother's one. The freedom, according to her brother, was a mockery to the equity that society may deem appropriate for any gender. The latter was allowed to do everything he thought of, for example playing until the wee hours without being queried. Furthermore, the author was forced to observe all the table manners while eating and avoid making any sounds. She was also, at all times, forced to be the last one to clear the table. Freedom to her was a dream that she could only see her brother enjoying.

The novel brings out the notion that the narrator was only trained to behave a way that was regarded as acceptable in the society, without the gender balance considerations. Her mother, on the other hand, was the main figure of society. She was out to protect the ideals that the society held in high esteem as she always reminded her lovely daughter of how it was mandatory to cover her inner body parts. The Egyptian culture called women to respect their bodies, and the men in society as well. Her mother also persuaded her that all men were considered as gods, thus deemed a superior gender than that of women. In addition, the narrator experienced her mother’s life as an obedient and submissive wife, who never questioned anything that her husband undertook, moreover worshipped the decisions made by him. These made the writer, eventually, despise any marriage institution and hate her female gender (Uglow 1999).

At the tender age of ten, the writer experienced extremely massive changes in her body structure and size, which implied growth and development. She had grown taller, faced menstruation periods and came out an older person as compared to other children of her age. Eventually, the incident when her mother together with her grandmother requested her to wear a cream dress, and take a bold step in order to greet her father’s guest, brought out the idea that she had really grown in size. Upon the writer meeting the specific guest, she never failed to notice how his eyes kept on roaming all over the body until they eventually caught a view of her chest. These kinds of passages clearly show that the society we embrace is a patriarchal one, which brings out women only as men’s sexual objects, and subjects to the desires of the male folk. Some parents, however, consider marriage as the only solace for their daughters, since it provides protection and does away with temptations that may hamper their excellence in terms of the norms in that particular society. Marriage is regarded completely acceptable by any society, and it goes out to protect the whole family from the societal shame (Junior 28).

Also, it is evident in the novel that women, for example the narrator’s mother, could wholly accept their position in society, without any bias or bad blood. On the other hand, the narrator herself has no obligation to live in bondage of the societal gender impartiality practices. She knows her rights and understands that all human beings are equal. Moreover, she takes the bold step to fight for the rights of all other women that are oppressed in society and urges them to air their issues and advocate for the equal consideration. An obvious incident hapenned when she decided to cut down her long hair, at ten years, as a bold act of total resistance towards all her mother’s advances. Therefore, this was a clear indication that the writer was out to defend her rights and wanted to demonstrate to the whole world that all this is possible. She clear states "For the first time in my life I understood the meaning of victory; fear led only to defeat, and victory demanded courage" (Saadawi 18). She valued education and went to pursue her dream career; it is another demonstration that women can also achieve what men deem only acceptable and within the latter’s reach. She would not let "nature.... drag (her) into the ranks of illiterate women" (Saadawi 24).

While pursuing a course in medicine, the writer was forced to dissect many naked human corpses. It came out as the first time she put her eyes on a naked man. She says "And in the course of it men lost their dread power and illusory greatness in my eyes" (Saadawi 25). Science greatly aided her to realize that all women had the ability to tackle what men could do. It was extremely amazing to witness how the writer used science in a bid to explain how all men and women had no disparities in line with all the gender roles. Women have a brain, a heart, and nervous system just exactly like all men. She stated that her mother’s assumptions that men were gods, was totally misplaced and needed guidance and review. The astonishment that faced the writer was mainly due to the fact that she was raised in a way that made her believe that men were totally different from the women and that they were superior. Despite the few biological differences in the nomenclature, the strength of any individual lay in the brain, where brain rules over brawn (Saadawi 25).

However, it turned out to the surprise of many when the narrator seconded the fact that science could not actually explain the course of everything in the society. She finally regained her lost faith in humanity when she helped a very sick old man in her daily work. This led her to the eventual decision of getting married and having a family. However, that was short lived as a divorce was on the offing. The moment her husband asked her to stop practicing medicine made her to reconsider her state and opted for a divorce. This was a show of male chauvinism and a feeling of intimidation from her husband because her wife was in a good career (Junior 28).

After that fateful divorce, the writer did not relent in her quest to practice medicine and serve the common folk. This earned her a lot of accolades in the society and independence that she enjoyed was a boost to her ego. She could stand out and celebrate her gender, and be a role model to many women who feel intimidated by their feminine gender. Despite the fact that she acknowledged missing and integral part of her life, which is the love, she was sure that at one time, her dreams would come to pass (Uglow 20).


Solace is Nigh

Looking up at the sky, hope near my eye,

Society gives me an ear, but no place to sigh,

The woman lies in awe, no faith in high,

Where should she look, solace is nigh.

Gender equality is sought, my dire cry,

No place to fight, many are out to pry,

The woman despised, no help to pray,

Where should she look, solace is nigh.

A solution is sought, the men are ruling,

The woman is out, to find a hiding,

Little is told, about her fighting,

Where should she look, solace is nigh.

The tunnel is long, justice in the ruling,

Brighter are the days, the woman keeps hoping,

Together in the struggle, no more relenting,

Where should she look, solace is nigh.


The society has its own ideals and norms that those in authority work towards enriching. The issue of gender roles and equity is a major problem that still hampers development in the modern world. There is a need for guidance and moral control, form all sectors that deal with socialization, culture and the economy. People have to be enlightened on the basics and the main issue that lead to the development of self and the society, at large. This is what the writer tries to bring out in her novel. She wants to elucidate the fact that gender equality is a calling that should be embraced by the current generation, in order to be trickled down to other upcoming generation. As a culture is brew, so a notion in line with gender issues can also be induced in the lives of people. Male chauvinism is an archaic act that should never be advocated by anyone, but rather mutual understanding should be the core to the development of the society. This forms the gist of the novel and portrays all the issues that hamper the success of the feminine gender.

The writer echoed issues that affect the world. She advocated for equality in all sectors of society, especially the gender roles. There is no superior human being; moreover it is necessary that people treat each other as equals. The world can only be made a better place if there is an ample ground for respect and observation of all set norms. Organizations should not relent in their quest to ensure that gender equality is observed in all institutions in the society. Women are not a lesser folk, and they should be accorded to the due respect they deserve.

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