Aug 08 2012

Not even a hint

Are the Saudis proud of their women athletes? They are not. They consider them a dirty secret.

Across the world, word that Saudi Arabia would send women athletes to the Olympics for the first time immediately rocketed to the top of websites and broadcasts. In Saudi Arabia’s official media: Not even a hint.

They don’t want the sluts to get big ideas.

“It does not change the fact that Saudi women are not free to move and to choose,” said political analyst Mona Abass in neighboring Bahrain. “The Saudis may use it to boost their image, but it changes little.”

Even the two athletes selected to compete under the Saudi flag — 800-meter runner Sarah Attar from Pepperdine University in California and Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani in judo — live outside the kingdom and carry almost no influence as sports figures.

They sent only two women; both women live outside the country; Saudi Arabia kept the whole thing a secret.

So actually, nothing changed.



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  1. 1

    makes me want to cry. SA is just an enormous prison.

  2. 2

    I really feel for those poor saudi men. Carried around inside a (gasp) woman for nine months then expelled ingloriously via her vagina…..no wonder the poor things are traumatized and fear women for life. I would too if it happened to me! Oh, wait……

  3. 3

    From the article, emphasis mine:

    “Of course this will bring backlash from many religious leaders,” said Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Washington-based Institute of Gulf Affairs that has been behind the “No Women No Play” campaign that called for an Olympic ban for Saudi Arabia if it resisted adding women. “This fight is far from over.”

    As recently as April, a Saudi newspaper quoted the head of the Saudi Olympic Committee as saying he did not approve of sending women to the Olympics — suggesting instead they could compete on their own under a neutral flag.

    …I have no words for my disgust.

  4. 4
    Shaker Srinivasan

    South Africa was barred from the Olympics until Barcelona in 1992, but only after the repeal of all apartheid laws. It was also banned from international cricket, football, rugby, and other games.

    Why aren’t Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia that practice gender apartheid with impunity banned, too? Time to draft a “Change” petition to the IOC? Help, please.

  5. 5
    Albert Bakker

    It’s only because the threat of which that resulted in the Saudi Olympic Committee sending 2 women, well reluctantly looking the other way while they allow them to (secretly) act out their perversity in London.

    This shade of grey that is actually still pitch black might nevertheless create enough ambiguity in how to interpret the sixth Olympic Principle as stated in the present Charter:

    6. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.

    to make an all out ban difficult, as it is wide open to interpretations that would make it seem that neither Saudi Arabia or the IOC would act in total compliance with the Olympic ideal in such a scenario.

    Then again practice is Saudi Arabia unilaterally de facto defies this Principle (and others) while the IOC stretched to breaking point to accommodate the Saudis while demanding a token in opposition to gender discrimination. So you make a good point, well enough I would say for me to sign your plea to the IOC to ban Saudi-Arabia and other countries for as long as they are unwilling to comply with the Olympic ideal as defined in the Charter and while acting in a manner that is incompatible with the IOC mission as stated in it.

  6. 6

    And I saw that poor woman, running the 800m in a tracksuit, because someone was afraid she might show some skin…

  7. 7
    Barry Pearson

    I have said elsewhere “We are engaged in a war for enlightenment, being fought over generations“. There are ultra-conservatives in Saudi Arabia who will still be ultra-conservatives at the end of the century. If progress happens, it will probably be slow.

    I think we should reserve judgment for a generation on whether this has changed NOTHING. Will it have no effect, or will it be seen as a Rosa Parks moment?

    Sometimes social change is a bit like the changes resulting from scientific discoveries. Changes can take much longer than anyone hoped, but eventually have much bigger effects than anyone expected. (And some DO disappear without a trace).

    Those 2 women surely don’t exist in isolation in Saudi Arabia. They will return with news of how well they were appreciated by the outside world. What will that achieve?

  8. 8

    IOW not progress, only landmines.

  9. 9
    Sheila Crosby

    The Saudi media won’t say anything, but people have the internet. I still think it’s a baby step. Frustratingly slow, but something.

  10. 10

    Unfortunately, human history has few examples of a privileged class voluntarily relinquishing some of its privilege. Since it doesn’t appear that the impetus will come from within SA it will have to come from outside. I can’t see waiting a generation to see if this small change has been effective – life’s too short for that.

  11. 11

    As of yesterday, 23 of the US’ 34 gold medals were won by women.

    We still have our problems, but I have no doubt that at least some of that dominance is due to the more sexist/lower opportunity nature of (some of) our international competitors.

  12. 12

    From pteryxx:

    As recently as April, a Saudi newspaper quoted the head of the Saudi Olympic Committee as saying he did not approve of sending women to the Olympics — suggesting instead they could compete on their own under a neutral flag.

    Sounds good to me. Women of Saudi Arabia, might I suggest that for your flag, you pick a green field, in the middle of which is a fist with one finger extended? Or possibly two fingers extended, in the European manner.

  13. 13

    For your amusement:

    Saudi Arabia’s female Olympians face cold return home

    Dr. Mohammad al-Arifi, an influential cleric who preaches at Al-Bawardi Mosque in Riyadh, is on faculty at King Saud University, warned Prince Nawaf against sending Saudi women to the Olympics:

    “Women practicing sports … is fundamentally allowed … but if this leads to mixing with men … or revealing private parts … or men watching her sometimes run, sometimes fall down … sometimes laugh and sometimes cry or quarrel with another female athlete … or mount a horse … or practice gymnastics … or wrestling … or other sports … while the cameras film and the [television] channels broadcast … then there can be no doubt that it is forbidden.”

  14. 14
    Shaker Srinivasan

    On the status of Muslim women in Olympics – http://muslimwomeninsports.blogspot.com/2012/08/in-name-of-games-muslim-female-athletes.html

  15. 15

    …or men watching her sometimes run, sometimes fall down … sometimes laugh and sometimes cry or quarrel with another female athlete

    They might get the mistaken impression that she’s actually (gasp!) a human, and we couldn’t have that!

    According to this article:

    …judo competitor Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani’s father received insults that included racial abuse and comments questioning his manhood, his honour and even his citizenship.

    Both women were featured under an Arabic Twitter hashtag that translates as “Olympic whores”

    And according to the BBC there have been suggestions that “Saudi Arabia had purposefully sent weak female competitors to the Games.”

  16. 16

    or men watching her sometimes run, sometimes fall down … sometimes laugh and sometimes cry or quarrel with another female athlete

    What the fuck?

  17. 17
    Ian MacDougall

    The interesting thing however, is that the ruling Saudis all selectively endorse the Enlightenment, via some of the human creations which emerged from it. They don’t mind modern textiles (camel skins are soooo last century) or computers (to keep track of their oil squillions in the banks), nor electricity and appliances, nor a bit of modern medicine, nor mobile phones, nor the latest in limousines and personal jets, nor air conditioning for their palaces… etc, etc.

    They don’t want to be seen as outcasts from the modern world, particularly it seems, by the Saudi population at large. So they try to play the Olympic system the best they can. It’s just that the Dark Ages are hard to reconcile with modernity. To keep the two going side by side is a bit like trying to keep gazelles and lions in the same zoo enclosure.

    In their own way, the whole Saudi population has to live in a subterranean warren like those unfortunate subjects of the benighted (literally!) burrowing Caliphate in Tartarstan.

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