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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Monday, December 05, 2005

Oprah, Saudi women's hero

I just read this article in the Times Online and didn't know how to define it exactly. But it made me laugh my ass off, so I figured I would share. THE women of Saudi Arabia have a new heroine in their struggle for emancipation — Oprah Winfrey, the American chat show host. In a country where satellite television is banned — yet nine out of 10 households have a dish — MBC, a Middle Eastern channel, has discovered that ratings for the Oprah show are the highest of any English-language programme it broadcasts in the kingdom. To cater for the demand, MBC is showing Oprah twice a day, five days a week, as it goes after its target audience of 18 to 25-year-olds. Women under 25 make up a third of Saudi Arabia’s 26m population. So that's why they have Oprah on so much on MBC 4. Goddamn Saudi women. The popularity of Oprah reflects an increasing identification with western values and culture that is slowly becoming evident in other areas of women’s lives. Gone are the days when women would only be seen outside in their black abayas. The younger generation are now to be found buying clothes at franchises such as Saks Fifth Avenue and sipping cappuccinos at Starbucks. They discuss Oprah, Erica Jong, Harry Potter and even Sex and the City, available uncensored on the satellite channel HBO. They probably discuss how Harry Potter books are banned (they are) and talking about how fast Sex and the City's Samantha would have gotten stoned to death if she was born Saudi. But, you know, they drink cappucinos at Starbucks. That makes them "hip", different and more "liberated" compared to their older generation counterparts. Ooooohh baby! The cabinet of King Abdullah last month approved a development plan calling for a bigger economic role for women that would remove “the obstacles hindering their participation in the economic and development activities”. Abdullah has said he is committed to improving the lives of women, who are not permitted to drive cars and need a male relative’s permission to travel abroad or attend university. “I believe the day will come when women drive,” he told ABC in an interview. LOL. Yeah. Sometime before 2150 A.D. I am sure. The day will come when women drive. Yeesh. They drive everywhere else dude. Sure, most of them don't drive well (sorry, couldn't resist), but they drive! What's your problem? Ohh, right! I remember now. Women who drive are potential whores in the eyes of Saudi men. How could I forget? Anyway, it's not all roses and love when it comes to Oprah. Some of her saudi female fans are kinda mad at her for putting their country on the spot regarding the whole Rania El Baz thing. The Oprah show has caused controversy in Saudi Arabia, after it broadcast an interview with Rania al-Baz, a Saudi TV presenter who was nearly beaten to death by her husband. “Thank God we live in America,” was Winfrey’s comment — which prompted an avalanche of criticism. What was the response? “Yes, we have domestic abuse. Yes, there are unsavoury elements in our society. Yes, there are women and children who have been subjected to mental and physical torture,” wrote Lubna Hussain, a popular women’s commentator. “But no, this does not define us as a society.” Well, Lubna, I hate to say this, but until you do something about it, it will continue to define you as a society. One of the world's most backwards one as well. Right up there with Pakistan and Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Just saying.


At 12/05/2005 09:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh lord, save them! I am female and I personally can't stand the whinning that is done on that show!

At 12/05/2005 11:17:00 AM, Blogger Atif Shaikh said...

there are two things to consider when talking about any society, one is the basic concept of that society and the other is the level of practice of that concept by the people.

if u portray that arabs, pakistan and afghanistan are antifeminist or female abusing societies then i can potray the western societies in general as being more womanising and more abusing than these countries simply because in the west, women are nothing more than a sex object, something u can display at brothels and strip clubs and there is no moral or spiritual guilt present in the people to even consider that to be abusive.
there are some black sheep in every society and the mere presence of such black sheeps doesnt indicate that the whole society is bad. what u have here r only instances and what oprah or anyone for that matter portray or discuss are mere instances. if countries like saudia and pakistan start enumerating the instances of female abuse in the west, u guys will simply stop moaning about your confused ideologies about women and women rights.


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