Video: Saudi intellectuals tackle the tough issues

posted at 9:13 am on June 6, 2007 by Allahpundit

Ayaan Hirsi Ali always says that women’s liberation is the key to reversing Islamic extremism. Intuitively that makes sense, but this is the second MEMRI clip in a week touching on “women’s issues” where the most progressive voice in the room has been a male one. Let’s hope that’s only because most Arab women are wary of speaking out against their oppressors, not because they’ve bought the line that this is for their own good. Because if it’s the latter, the long war is going to be even longer than we thought.

LA Times reporter Megan Stack has a story out today about her years in the Kingdom as a reporter suffering under its hyper-victorian morals. She doesn’t sound optimistic either:

One afternoon, a candidate invited me to meet his daughter. She spoke fluent English and was not much younger than me. I cannot remember whether she was wearing hijab, the Islamic head scarf, inside her home, but I have a memory of pink. I asked her about the elections.

“Very good,” she said.

So you really think so, I said gently, even though you can’t vote?

“Of course,” she said. “Why do I need to vote?”

Her father chimed in. He urged her, speaking English for my benefit, to speak candidly. But she insisted: What good was voting? She looked at me as if she felt sorry for me, a woman cast adrift on the rough seas of the world, no male protector in sight.

“Maybe you don’t want to vote,” I said. “But wouldn’t you like to make that choice yourself?”

“I don’t need to,” she said calmly, blinking slowly and deliberately. “If I have a father or a husband, why do I need to vote? Why should I need to work? They will take care of everything.”

Says Stack of the physiological effects of the abaya, “The kingdom made me slouch.”

Here’s the clip. The names, costumes, and language have changed, but the basic themes would probably be familiar to late 19th or early 20th century America. Click the image to watch.

drive.jpg

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“I don’t need to,” she said calmly, blinking slowly and deliberately. “If I have a father or a husband, why do I need to vote? Why should I need to work? They will take care of everything.”

So what’s wrong with this quote (besides the “why should I work” statement)? Makes perfect sense to me.

right2bright on June 6, 2007 at 9:18 AM

And she’ll have fun, fun, fun till Achmed takes the T-bird away.

JackStraw on June 6, 2007 at 9:25 AM

You can’t take anything from that quote. Her father was in the room. She’s not going to speak freely to a western reporter with a person in the room who has the legal right to end her life.

There’s an interesting (old?) docu-drama on PBS about a Saudi princess (iirc) who was killed for having an affair. Anyway, it paints a very interesting picture of what life is like for these woman and what they truly think. The Saudi gov tried like crazy to prevent it from being shown. It fits with the posting here (or maybe LGF) the other day about what these woman are doing on the Net.

As I recall, there have been lots of videos on the Net over the last year about these groups of woman protesting out in the open and driving (and getting a beating by the police.) We also have the videos from Iran where woman are attacking the dress police in Tehran.

So, my sense is, this quote does not represent what these woman truly think. There’s hope. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is living proof.

TheBigOldDog on June 6, 2007 at 9:39 AM

right2bright on June 6, 2007 at 9:18 AM

I hope you’re joking.

Here’s the clip. The names, costumes, and language have changed, but the basic themes would probably be familiar to late 19th or early 20th century America. Click the image to watch.

Amazing how their society has been around many thousands of years longer than ours, yet they’re so far behind technologically, and apparently ethically.

amerpundit on June 6, 2007 at 9:51 AM

hahaha Jackstraw, you owe me a keyboard and monitor.

csdeven on June 6, 2007 at 9:57 AM

We also must not discount the universal nature of the female species. There is a segment that doesn’t want responsibility and are more than happy to be a kept woman. So her response could be based on a trade off between freedom and responsibility. I do think that once a woman starts to have kids, that attitude changes somewhat, as the need to get away for a few minutes is realized.

csdeven on June 6, 2007 at 10:04 AM

And she’ll have fun, fun, fun till Achmed takes the T-bird away.

JackStraw on June 6, 2007 at 9:25 AM

She’s the little old lady from west Medina…

(Go granny go granny go granny go!)

James on June 6, 2007 at 10:16 AM

We also must not discount the universal nature of the female species. There is a segment that doesn’t want responsibility and are more than happy to be a kept woman. So her response could be based on a trade off between freedom and responsibility. I do think that once a woman starts to have kids, that attitude changes somewhat, as the need to get away for a few minutes is realized.

csdeven on June 6, 2007 at 10:04 AM

Female species? Oh please tell me what is a KEPT woman???
Certainly not a stay at home mom. Need to get away? I didn’t work until all my children were in school and only worked the hours they were in school. My son’s wife stays home.

ChrisIansNana on June 6, 2007 at 10:32 AM

Also my daughter in law is quite smart. Was second in her class in high school. And RESPONSIBILITY? She is responsable for 3 young lives and doesn’t drop them off for someone else to take care of.

ChrisIansNana on June 6, 2007 at 10:38 AM

Sorry, back on the subject. These so called Arab “men” are so full of (for lack of a better word) crap. I feel the older women have had this crap drilled into them since they were young that they are afraid of the “unknown”. Hopefully, the Arab women will realize they aren’t second class citizens and start walking beside thier husbands and not behind them.

ChrisIansNana on June 6, 2007 at 10:52 AM

Honestly, there are teen-aged and “young adult” women in this country who would say the exact same thing about voting or working. You can’t really extrapolate the views of one (possibly spoiled) rich girl to the rest of her nation.

corbettw on June 6, 2007 at 10:54 AM

Looks kind of like McCartney. The woman that is, not the man.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on June 6, 2007 at 11:02 AM

This whole thing is surreal. Women don’t need to drive until the “wise” (lol) Saudi government has considered the safety implications? Until then, they can rely on their chauffeurs? You could almost get the impression that you’re watching a Saturday Night Live skit.

morganfrost on June 6, 2007 at 11:25 AM

I’m still waiting for someone to get upset at AP comparing America to this in a roundabout fashion..

Anyhoo, it’s hard not to lol@a woman dissing other women for being bad drivers, that’s just classic. I admit it’d be funnier if there wasn’t a darker side to it, but nevertheless..

On a more serious note, I would agree with cs insofar as there are, amazingly, women in first-world countries out there with the same mentality towards many things

Well, given the state of things, perhaps not-so-amazingly. Somewhere along the line it became ‘empowering’ to dress up as male sex fantasies..

Reaps on June 6, 2007 at 11:32 AM

Female species? Oh please tell me what is a KEPT woman???
Certainly not a stay at home mom. Need to get away? I didn’t work until all my children were in school and only worked the hours they were in school. My son’s wife stays home.

ChrisIansNana on June 6, 2007 at 10:32 AM

Not all women stay at home and there are women who want to be kept. The point was that the girl interviewed could be one of those types.

csdeven on June 6, 2007 at 11:53 AM

ChrisIansNana on June 6, 2007 at 10:52 AM

Are so suggesting that all Muslim women and all Muslim men are exactly of the same mindset?

csdeven on June 6, 2007 at 11:55 AM

Are so suggesting that all Muslim women and all Muslim men are exactly of the same mindset?

csdeven on June 6, 2007 at 11:55 AM

ok these so called “men” and women in the video’s

ChrisIansNana on June 6, 2007 at 12:29 PM

632 years behind us in EVERY way.

tickleddragon on June 6, 2007 at 1:05 PM

Ok, my computer won’t let me play the clip, but on this subject, I have a friend who was in the Air Force in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. He witnessed a hanging of some women who decided they were going to set an example of independance and drive their cars themselves. They were punished as an example to other women. I think when you’ve been raised your whole life to believe certain things, especially under the threat of death, it would be extremely hard to break with that, I think some of them do truly believe what they’ve been taught. The others are, I’m sure, afraid, of death, beating, at the very least being ostrasized from your family and community.

4shoes on June 6, 2007 at 1:21 PM

4shoes on June 6, 2007 at 1:21 PM
exactly!!!!

ChrisIansNana on June 6, 2007 at 1:27 PM

I think the woman on the TV clip probably reflected the views of many women in the privileged class in Saudi. It’s not in her interest to support laws that might improve the economic status of women from less fortunate Saudi families (those struggling by on just $1 million per year…ahem, sorry). I couldn’t help but notice her “diamond” (fake, I assume) sleeves, and hair covering. How long could she wear that around the Taliban, I wonder?

doufree on June 6, 2007 at 1:45 PM

The guy at the end of the video is the absolute moral authority on the subject. Women will begin to associate with men, uncover they’re faces, begin to wear makeup, and have their picture taken! Oh the horror of it all!

Kini on June 6, 2007 at 1:51 PM

OK, lousy joke time!

Why are there no convertibles in Saudi Arabia?

Because women are forbidden to drive around with their tops down….

Hisses and boo’s…..Man this is a tough tent!

soulsirkus on June 6, 2007 at 2:06 PM

I might point out that Saudis are liars by nature. A Saudi, male or female, is not going to admit anything is wrong to an outsider, certainly not an infidel. They are going to look you right in the eye, lie their ass off, and tell you everything is peachy.

There is a scene in “Saudi Arabia Exposed : Inside a Kingdom in Crisis” by John R. Bradley, where Bradley recounts watching a Saudi princess, considered a moderate, tell the Western media immediately after Sep 11 that the skyjackers were not Saudi. When she finished, she turned to Bradley and admitted they were Saudi and what a problem that was. Saudis are brazen liars. They lie to save face even when all the facts are against them and they know that you know they are lying.

If you want to learn more what it’s like to be a woman married to a Saudi and living in Saudi Arabia, I recommend
Inside the Kingdom: My Life in Saudi Arabia” by Carmen Bin Ladin. It’s good beach reading.

If you want to learn about the Saudi-American relationship, I recommend “Inside The Mirage: America’s Fragile Partnership with Saudi Arabia” by Thomas W. Lippman. Lippman tells the story through interviews with the people who were there. It’s very readable, unlike the academic histories of Saudi Arabia or the propaganda histories of Arab authors. You will be infuriated when you read how much we contributed to Saudi Arabia only to be repaid with murderous treachery on Sep 11. It’s the first book you should read about Saudi Arabia.

Tantor on June 6, 2007 at 2:15 PM

Tanto sez …

You will be infuriated when you read how much we ontributed to Saudi Arabia only to be repaid with murderous treachery on Sep 11. It’s the first book you should read about Saudi Arabia.

The whole Saudi/US relationship makes no sense, and hasn’t for years. Yet one US president after another, of all political stripes, has made nice-nice with them. Let OBL take over, that way we have some good targets for our cruise missiles. And no, I don’t care if the price of oil skyrockets for a while, the cure for high prices is always high prices, especially with commodities. And if the price of slaughtering terrorists in large numbers is high oil prices and recession, so be it….well there go my chances of being President…or of going to Saudi Arabia.

doufree on June 6, 2007 at 2:32 PM

right2bright on June 6, 2007 at 9:18 AM

You ARE kidding, right???

hollygolightly on June 6, 2007 at 3:48 PM

amerpundit on June 6, 2007 at 9:51 AM
right2bright on June 6, 2007 at 9:18 AM

Just wanted our great conservative women to come out swinging.

I know the lib women won’t say a word, they support this type of lifestyle. Keep them covered up, keep them uneducated, keep them quiet, mutilate those parts of the body, that’s the way NOW wants them.

right2bright on June 6, 2007 at 6:23 PM

Wow, just got home from work and actually got to watch the video. I don’t even have words…

However, I will say this: is it just me or is this traditional woman fighting to not have rights (yep, that’s right, I said RIGHTS) owed to her not already wearing a TON of eyeliner?? Also, I believe the good doctor, who couldn’t put together a one minute speech on his “cause” w/out using notes and stuttering, may be afraid that if women are “allowed” their independence (gasp), they will prove themselves smarter than him???

hollygolightly on June 6, 2007 at 7:00 PM

If Muslim women aren’t smarter than Muslim men, God help us.

(And I don’t mean Allah.)

profitsbeard on June 7, 2007 at 12:19 AM

The very well made-up woman in the decidedly sparkling hijab is a mouthpiece, but she is also a hypocrite (big surprise, right?)

She is employed(?) by the road safety department, and is head of the women’s affairs committee. Interesting double title, but it shows that she is a mouthpiece for the ruling government, giving them the “appearance” of being progressive about women’s issues, while making sure that what you hear, coming from a female mouth, is the same arcane bigotry.

Her job is to be the face women are supposed to trust while she tells them they have no good reason to be treated as equals.

There is a segment that doesn’t want responsibility and are more than happy to be a kept woman. So her response could be based on a trade off between freedom and responsibility.

Her response is what she is told to say, nothing more and nothing less. Your point is completely lost behind the real one, that Saudi woman CANNOT CHOOSE their comdition, kept or free. Given that lack of choice, certainly many will content themselves to a life of no responsibility, but don’t confuse that with happiness. When they have the opportunity to be independent, and THEN choose to be ‘kept’, it will be fair to assign some form of judgement to their decision. Not before then.

Freelancer on June 7, 2007 at 10:23 AM