Evelyne Accad, Cynthia T. Hahn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


“Creative writing is a more & convincing way of denouncing than & political treatises” by opening access to women’s subjectivity, writes Evelyne Accad. Horror and engagement followed her first encounter with clitoridectomy in the 1970s. “Born an Arab woman in Beirut, of a Swiss mother and Lebanese father,” the wordsmith realized early how to deploy her talent against suffering: by authoring the novel L’Excisée (1982). Accad’s heroine observes, undergoes, and rages against clitoral amputation. Inspired by Nawal el Saadawi’s description of her ordeal, E. (for Elle/Eve) represents “universal woman, woman from everywhere, & socially mutilated by the tyranny of man, a & witness to the physical mutilations of other women.” A “cry of revolt and a prayer for hope,” the empathic substrate for Accad’s campaign, remains contentious, however. She admits, “To destroy traditional institutions that oppress &, and therefore to liberate women, is in fact & to undermine & patriarchal organization on which & domination” – in this case FGM – relies. Addressing the dispute between universal discourse on human rights and particular cultures, Accad inventories relativists who privilege nationalist identities over gender solidarity, but they have not been known to propose means of ending FGM. Accad reiterates the ties that unite her with women across the world, sharing the empathic, autobiographical, and angered feminist roots of her novel’s graphic exposure and fierce opposition to FGM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook of Harmful Cultural Practices
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781003805892
ISBN (Print)9781032327563
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Medicine


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