Salu’ah: The She-Wolf of Arabia

This paper reviews a number of folktales that represent the Salu’ah, the she-wolf of Arabia. Telling the tale of a monster roaming the deserts of Arabia looking for men to devour, narratives about the nature of the Salu’ah are charged with horror. Her demonic nature shifts her from human to animal. But, her gender questions the very structures that abject her as a monster and a female. The discussion analyses how the narrative functions within the Bedouin social environment. It considers how the imagery within these narratives generates an image of the context in which this myth operates. Through a psychoanalytic reading of the narratives, the paper analyses how the myth shifts the social hierarchies to empower the feminine. It reviews the role of her transformation into the maternal and how it contributes to the figure of the werewolf as a female and as a monster. These narratives invert gender structures of heteronormative discourse when the monstrous feminine in the she-wolf destroys the location of its abjection that functions within the patriarchal discourse. The exaggeration of her abjection highlights her as an emasculator. She is a mother that devours. The Salu’ah emerges as more powerful than men of the desert where the Bedouin man is perceived to be the hero. She represents his most horrific fears.

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