The short fiction of Arab women writers epitomizes their penetrating feminist voices and contributes to our understanding of the diversity of Arab women short-story writing in the second half of the twentieth century. This fiction, which should be read with an open mind and with a nod to the culture and social context in which it is born, cradled and bred, deals with family relations in the Arab world and the ways in which the members of these families show each other love, or perhaps neglect to do so, with social and cultural dominion that emphasizes the collective and downplays the individual, with identity crises, with sexual objectification and with the politics and social/cultural/economic dynamics of gender relations and gendering in the vast Arab world. As evidenced in the selected short stories examined in this paper, Arab women exist in societies which present them with impenetrable boundaries around asserting control over themselves and achieving self-actualization. This dilemma of stifled self-control trumpets a series of dichotomies between which these women are forced to live, straddling inner passions and imposed social obligations, desire and duty as a female. As a result, a population of halved women is produced, women who are neither satisfied nor fulfilled and who are unable to define what satisfaction and fulfillment mean in their own terms. Through reading the lives of Arab women, we come to see the role history and society have given us and a more passionate and meaningful self-fulfilling existence. We come to refuse the silence ingrained in our soul and to reject our fate as discarded women. We come to validate our own deeply-held values and to forge a new future for ourselves, thus creating ourselves anew, a true act of love.
Pinched Lives and Stolen Dreams in Arab Feminist Short Stories.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 15(1), 54-66.
Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol15/iss1/4