In the Arab world, bargaining with censorship has been an ongoing struggle for writers, particularly female authors. How could we explain that only male writers were allowed to discuss sexuality in the Arabic canon, insofar as female characters are portrayed as passive sexual objects? Are Arab women writers victims of double censorship? One is imposed on their fellow male writers, and another is tacit censorship which judges women’s morality based on their writing. Girls of Riyadh (2007) by Saudi novelist, Rajaa Abdullah Alsanea, and Distant View of the Minaret and Other Stories (1987) by Egyptian novelist, Alifa Rifaat, are two examples of works which had been subject to a fierce campaign of censorship. Sanea’s novel had been banned in Saudi Arabia and was not published in many Arab countries, whereas Rifaat’s collection of short stories had appeared posthumously in English translation. While the alleged reasons for banning both works are the obscene descriptions of heterosexual and homosexual desires which might spoil young female readers, in addition to how they suggest that almost all Saudi and Egyptian women engage in premarital and/or extramarital sex, the truth is that institutionalized patriarchy, represented by Arab publishing houses, could not represent works by women that tackle these motifs. As such, the article holds that the two narratives deconstruct the Cinderella complex, namely, the protection that domesticity can offer to women, showing how punitive could it become for all the female characters, insomuch that their suffering lies in their blind conformity to male customs. Beyond confining both works under the moral prism of patriarchy, Girls and Distant poignantly dissect violence against women, double standards of patriarchy, and most importantly, the yearning for the acknowledgment of female desire.
""Too immoral to be narrated by a woman": Censoring Erotic Fiction of Arab Women Writers in Girls of Riyadh and Distant View of a Minaret and Other Stories,"
Comparative Woman: Vol. 2:
2, Article 4.
Available at: https://repository.lsu.edu/comparativewoman/vol2/iss2/4
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