Friday, January 13, 2006

Sexism and The Kingdom

I find it strange that every successful Saudi woman is hated by the whole of this kingdom.
I'll tell you why. It's because the authorities have brainwashed everyone into thinking women were not meant to have lives, or do anything productive.

Rajaa Al-Sanea. Now I'm sure most of you are thinking; Yeah, we hate her for a reason!
But take everything the media and the people are telling you, and put it aside.
Why do you hate her, again?
The woman wrote a book. A very successful book. She wrote a book called "Riyadh Girls".
People think she exaggerated, generalized.
News flash!!: All writers exagerate and generalize. No one would sell any books if they didn't!
Also, if you think about it, she didn't exaggerate that much.
She took the truth, and wrote it down. I know Saudis are used to sugar coating everything, but this woman had the guts to tell the truth.
She didn't give us her opinion. She just spoke the truth in the form of a story, and yet, people are offended by her book.
And let us not forget; this is the woman that singlehandedly made thousands of people flock to bookstores and actually pick up a book and read.
Admirable, at worst.

Lubna Al-Olayan. A very successful buisiness woman. CEO of Olayan Financing Company. She's making tons o'cash.
But we Saudis have to say something negative. (She is a woman, afterall.)
She got all kinds of crap for appearing unveiled at the Jeddah Economic Forum in 2004. She was wearing a head scarf, damn it!
But to us Saudis, her "behaviour" was shameful.
Isn't she old enough to decide whether or not she wants to cover her face?
Not according to the people (and written media) of Saudi Arabia!
Shame on her. Not covering her face while giving a speech! The nerve!

I'm over this.



Mochness said...

I don't like Rajaa cause she bailed out on her friends. I know for a fact that many of the ppl who read her book hated it mostly due to its lack of edit, so editting her book might fix her novel's weakness language-wise.
Haven't read the book and I don't really feel like it, though. I know I said that I would, but I won't. Bleh

Talal said...

I think raja made an unblievable sacrifice just so this story can be heard, so I commend her.

As for Lubna well you know why they hate her so ? because it gives women a hero to admire and emulate how the hell can they control thier wives with this kind of bad influence. Next thing you know their wives will speak up to them.

ruba duba said...


You took words right out of my mouth
That’s exactly what I've trying to say my whole life
I don’t know if u noticed it or not.
I think rja2 al 9ani3 did such a good work
I read a little bit of the book (not all of it cuz I didn’t feel like reading :P)
Anyway there was a chapter about girls who drink and stuff
I was like no way this cant happen her in Saudi !!!
But then it got me thinking, I shouldn’t judge Saudi from the environment I live in!
There are a lot parts of Saudi I still didn’t see!
Plus I heard that a lot of boys and girls drink.
In fact they make it themselves!!! Strange huh???

And lubna is just my role model
I look up to her!

Rimyoleta said...

I think she said the trueth(raja)..I don't know about riyadh but I know it's True...Everyone read it said so..
I loved how everyone hated it,,that means they actually read it,,that's GREAT:D..and lubna is too good to be true..I love her weather she is mohajaba or naked...they went to her goal..that's all that matters:)

$uper MO said...

I agree with mocha with what she pointed out on raja2's book...

After all, us Saudi ppl might not be ready yet to read such books. books that reveal our secrets & show our weaknesses. I know, we have to get used to it, but the first move ( raja2's book) will alwayz be criticized !

taqo said...

Ive wanted to read it, but i cant find it anywhere..kl ma aroo7 bookstore, their like its mamnu3 in the kingdom.
A girl in my class had it, but shes not really a friend, so i cant really ask her if I can borrow it from her.

Dotsson said...

Is Raja that dentistry student who wrote a book about sex?

Abu Sinan said...

I dont know why some men in some areas of the world are so worried by their women? Insecurity?

I love smart, success oriented women. My wife is a smart Saudi woman, educated, with a mind of her own.

She is good looking, sure, but it is her mind and intellect that drew me towards her.

Why a man would want a meek unintelligent woman is beyond me.

Trevelyana said...

My two cents on this is that the reason is simple.

They're a threat.. a threat to archaic customs for the conservative, and a threat to the comfort zone of the rest. Change is hard on any society.. cut them (or rather--us--if I dare) a break.

George Bernard Shaw once said that
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

We're a nation of unreasonable men and women. Change is just not easy.

Oh and dot, the book is not about sex.

Talal said...

You stated that Raja's book showed our secrets and our weaknesses, but if they are ours then what is the problem if one of us is to write about them?

No Mo the problem is not that we are not ready to read such books we are not yet ready to acknowledge our weakness and secrets, we are hell bent on brainwashing ourselves into thinking we are a perfect society that has no problems.

ABDULLA said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ABDULLA said...


Been talking about women in Saudi in my last post, yet from a different angle. You may wanna read the post. I respect both ladies myself. Actually, I told my mom amma propose to Raja2 if I meet her in campus while doing my masters..:p

Mochness said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mochness said...

Talal said, "No Mo the problem is not that we are not ready to read such books we are not yet ready to acknowledge our weakness and secrets, we are hell bent on brainwashing ourselves into thinking we are a perfect society that has no problems."

Are there people in our society that are still in denial? I've heard about what the book is about and I'm planning to read it so I'd know what I'd talk about with friends and people concerning this, but Rajaa has talked about issues and incidents that would only happen to the people of her so called "own social status", so why generalize and call it "Banat Alriyadh" in the first place? A friend of mine told me that Rajaa said in her book that she had several titles in mind before resolving with "Banat Alriyadh", and one of those titles was "Al6aba8a alma5malia" (translation: The Velvet Society) which is a more appropriate title.
Aside from ratting her friends out (I've recently heard that all her friends were happy with the book aside from one who doesn't speak to her anymore) and the desperate need of editing the whole thing, there's the way she's so sure that everyone in our society is just like her and her friends. I mean, sure there are those who go out with men, drive around in cars, drink alcohol, smoke the hookah, and so and so forth, but that doesn't mean that all of us are like them. I've nothing against their way of living; it's their life, but don't go pointing your finger at me and accusing me of being someone I'm not.

*takes a deep breath* with all that said, I'd like to point out that I do like one major thing about this book, and it's that a Saudi girl our age finally had the courage to at least publish a book in the first place.

ubergirl87 said...

Alrighty! I'm glad you all are discussing Banat AlRiya6'!
First off, the title "Banat Alriyadh" does not have to mean "hey you! You're from Riyadh, so you're either opressed, a slut, or something else is wrong with you!"
It does not mean Rajaa was pointing fingers or generalizing.
When you think about Riyadh, all it is is a city that combines every Saudi (and maybe even every Arabic) culture out there!
We have the Gaseemis the Hasawis the Hijazis tha Shawamm, the list goes on..
What the title "Banat AlRiyadh" means; is that Rajaa got a stereotypical character from every one of those different cultures.

The fact that she called it "Banat AlRiyadh" falls under the accusation of generalization I addressed in my post.
And so what!? She could have called it banat "Insert my family name" for all I care.
Her book, (no matter how trashy, how cliche, HOW teeny-boppish it is) IS a break through.
We're finally getting some honesty out of the female youth of Saudi Arabia.

Thanks for your comments, everyone! :-)

Anonymous said...

I lived in KSA thirty years ago, went to school and University ( first year) then came to the USA to study, got married, divorced and still living in USA. Finally got the Banat Al Riyadh book, I could not put it down. If the events are true, I think that your generation has made some advances, unfortunately the society is still where I left it. The book brought out so many good and bad memories, but it is the best book I have read this year. I have another Saudi friend who lives in The USA and I know that she will enjoy it. I am proud of all the women in SA that will try and demand respect and recognition for their accomplishments. Women are half the society and must take control of their desteny, and I do not mean being a wife and mother only, but an active role in the building of the country. Marriage is good with the right person or it could be hell. Therefore, it is not necesseraly the main goal in life.