Important Notice

It is not my intention to denigrate Saudi Arabia or its people. It’s like everywhere else, there is good and there is bad. I would rather focus on the unusual and the humourous. Offence is not intended.

“The country is not perfect. The media cannot be trusted, mistreatment of religious minorities is common and there are some that live in fear.” You can decide for yourself whether that statement is about Saudi Arabia, the UK, or any country for that matter.

To quote the Joker, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

That is all I will say about either subject.

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Western Myths #4: Saudi Women Are Oppressed and Must Be Weak

Yes, yes, "myth" probably isn't the correct word to use. I don't want to discuss the politics of it all but I would like to make one observation.
It's true that I'm still scarred by the curse of the angry ninja and don't even ask me about my experiences in Women's Secret, but a lot of the Saudi women I see here are very assertive ladies. Some of them are just downright scary and I wouldn't want to be the one to say no to them if they demanded something.
For instance, at Granada mall over the weekend we passed a young ninja shouting angrily at three guys. The guys were all grinning, but it was the sheepish grin of a guy thinking "please, someone reassure me that I'm still cool and please please move this lady on, I'm really rather scared and very very sorry."
As we passed the exit a Saudi gentleman in front of us stopped and spoke to the security guard whilst gesticulating back to the lady. I cannot speak Arabic but I imagined him to be saying "excuse me, there are three men back there being harrassed by a young woman...."


Mariam said...

oh, Margrave, the young ninja was me. And believe me, those asses deserved it.

Seriously, I would have paid money to see that. And exactly, HOW did you know she was young?? no wrinkles around the eyes???!!! hmmmmm, don't let saudi men see you staring at their women.

Margrave said...

...she had a young voice? ;-D

an asian expat said...

Good post!
Assertive! oh my! should you see these ladies calling out thier husbands and instructing drivers during driving. oh my they will blast the bullet in the gun. The world doesnt know about arab women. They opress (mostly).

Alwan said...

Saudi Women are enjoying many privileges that very few cultures are allowing women to enjoy. However, Saudi women have different angles when viewing these privileges. some of them think they are being oppressed and some think they are assertive.

or.. let's put it this way: Saudi women have been oppressed too much that they become very assertive, and they start to oppress back! lol

DonPato said...

Your are providing a great service with your descriptions of Saudi Society. Ignorance is not bliss its dangerous and the sooner we all learn about each other the better off the world will be.

I remember going to Moscow with a tour group. One member had shipped in 4 cases of bibles.

He would try to pass them out on the street and all the old Russian lades would point at the text and laugh. Oh I no read English, and I have a Russian one at home anyway and they would walk away.

So much for a country of atheist. Don't those atheist realize a English bible is better than a Russian one!:)

Gay Saudi Aribia

Anonymous said...

Mr Margraves

Your writing and observation skills are outstanding. I sincerely hope that some real benefit emerges from the effort that you have put into this, other than just the sheer entertainment that your blog provides.

Dr.Talal said...

That is in Garanda mall which I'm lucky to live near it, why don't you go to Souq Hjab in East of Riyadh. I'm living here for 20 years and the women are oppressed is a fact. if you take a look for the rules is enogh , they can't drive, the can't use court or police service without a guardian and so as for travelling outside & applying to universities, and many more laws. I thank you for writing your opinion and effort to find the truth thu .

Margrave said...

Thanks for your comments. On reflection I think perhaps the post should have been titled "Myth: Saudi Women have less rights than Western Women and therefore must be weaker" but well... it's not a very snappy title is it? ;)
That they have less rights is obvious (e.g. no driving). The assumption that Saudi women must therefore be weak is what I was trying to correct. In my (limited) experience they are often very assertive and often sound well educated too.
I take your point about the mall though and I accept I am in the capital city rather than out in the distant burbs (where men and women are probably less likely to as wealthy and hence less likely to be as well educated).

Dr.Talal said...

Nop , Souq Hejab is in Riyadh in the east part of it :). And yes I agree saudi women are well educated but I wish they have the chance to use thier knowledge in work fields which forbiden on them. and finally thanks for the reply.

Sand Gets in My Eyes said...

The women of Saudi Arabia are - for the most part - amazing! Of course, the myth is that they are oppressed, and from the outside it looks that way a lot of the time. But, when you sit down and talk to these ladies, you get the impression that what I as an American feminist might label oppressive, they often label protective and even reassuring. As Alwan put it - Saudi women enjoy many privileges. They might not be the ones I'm used to - or even expect, but then again, this isn't my country or culture.

DemonEyes said...

well,they sure arent submissive that i know.
if you ask me,the real myth is that (the majoroty of saudi women want to be liberated but thier male wardens keep prisoning them).

what most people dont know is that the larger masses of saudi women strangely support the laws the lesser masses of saudi women find restricting and opressing.

women driving for example,my sisters get booklets from other women (warnig them from the evils of driving) all the time,and this is jutst a tiny example.
its not a battle of sexes that is happening in here,its a battle of ideologies.
and the women belonging to the dominant ideology in this country are satisfied with the way things are.

thats nice and all but what really sucks is that they confisticate the rights of the minoroty by giving themselves the right to represent the all women.