How to cope with eternal bliss »« Uncomfortable with activist women

Sport will lead to corrupt morals

Saudi Arabia finally gave in to pressure and “allowed” Saudi women – a whole entire two of them – to compete in the Olympics, but it really really hated doing it.

The ministry of education bans physical education for girls. The rationale behind the ban ranges from claims that sport will lead to corrupt morals and lesbianism, to it being masculine and damaging for female health and psyche.

The main rationale, though, is that introducing physical education is a slippery slope that will eventually lead it to becoming common to see Saudi women practise and compete in sports publicly in front of men. In a country where all state schools mandate fully covering the face , the thought of Saudi women running in a conservative tracksuit with the face showing is simply too much for many to handle.

Saudi Arabia thinks everything is damaging for female health and psyche, apart from being fucked and bearing children. It’s as if women were both fragile as crystal and infectious as Ebola, while still being tragically necessary because fucking and reproduction.

Imagine not being allowed to do any kind of sport. Imagine not being allowed to go outside unless you’re buried in a bag and have a male relative along. Imagine not being allowed to go into banks, shops, restaurants because women are banned.

Once it was announced that two women would be joining the Saudi delegation, many  criticised the minister of sports, Prince Nawaf al-Faisal, for allowing it. However, the inclusion of women proceeded, and when those opposing the move saw that they could not get the minister to retract, they changed strategy and focused on the female athletes instead.

Photos of Sarah Attar on the running track from her university website in California emerged on Twitter and Facebook with her face, arms and legs blurred so that all a person can see is that it is a woman in shorts. These photos were captioned with statements of how this goes against the minister’s promise to ensure that Saudi women would participate in hijab.

As if the Saudi minister of sport gets to promise that a girl in California will wear what he says she’ll wear. As if it were the world’s business what she wears.

Meanwhile, 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“.

Aren’t people lovely.

 

Comments

  1. says

    But obviously wearing niqabs is their completely uncoerced free choice that they chose themselves without any social pressure or overt threats from the rape culture brigade.

  2. Kathy says

    I was in the stadium when Sarah Attar ran her heat today. She was cheered all the way around and across the finish line, despite being 45 seconds off the pace. It was wonderful to see.

    This is a major buzzkill. I don’t know why I’m surprised….

  3. says

    Yessenia, quite – Mona Eltahawy was tweeting that today to someone who said Attar “chose” to race in a hijab. She didn’t choose, Mona said.

    Kathy – well later in the piece it says that Attar doesn’t care, she has dual citizenship and is going back to California.

    Sad about all the other Saudi women though.

    Jeezis I hate that place.

  4. Brian M says

    remember….They are our bestest allies in the whole wide world. Our buddies. Our leaders kiss and hug their theocratic corrupt princes.

  5. Godless Heathen says

    It’s great that Saudi Arabia finally let a woman compete in the Olympics.

    I’m a little curious about her training background, though. I’m pretty sure my high school 800m PR was 2:44 and that was nowhere near fast enough to land me on the varsity team, much less qualify for the Olympics.

    I realize that she probably has much less competition than I did, but still.

  6. GordonWillis says

    she probably has much less competition

    The point to remember is that she has much more opposition, opposition not because she is a competitor but because she exists.

  7. Trebuchet says

    @Steve84:

    Saudi men seem to be little more than animals.

    That’s a pretty broad brush — which could also be used to tar a very large number of American Christian men.

  8. Amy Clare says

    I have no idea why the govts and people of the West don’t have more of a problem with Saudi Arabia. Considering the anti-apartheid campaigns of the 80s and the clear message given to South Africa that what they were doing was not okay. Is it all down to oil, or is it that Western leaders don’t see women as that important?

  9. Alex says

    The minds of these people are fucked beyond recovery. I have just googled “hijab sportswear”… sick, sick, sick.

  10. Godless Heathen says

    Yeah, I really shouldn’t be nitpicking her time… Don’t know why I did that. I’ll stop now.

  11. Godless Heathen says

    This is from the first article you linked to:

    “After all this controversy and craziness, Saudis were suddenly blindsided by the emergence of a half-Saudi, half-Filipino 19-year-old Olympic swimmer, Jasmine Alkhaldi. Surprisingly, since her existence went viral in Saudi, the majority seems to be not only in support of her but also protective.”

    “Why the change of heart on women’s participation when it comes to Alkhaldi? It’s hard to say. It could be that the ultraconservatives were burnt out opposing Attar and Shahrkhani by the time Alkhaldi came on the scene. Or it might be because she is not officially representing Saudi Arabia and the ultraconservative interpretation of Islam that the government adheres to. Or it could be the fact that she is a real Olympic contender with a good chance of winning the gold medal, unlike Attar and Shahrkhani who were included at the last minute under the “universality” clause.”

    This woman is competing for the Phillipines.

  12. Trebuchet says

    I have no idea why the govts and people of the West don’t have more of a problem with Saudi Arabia. Considering the anti-apartheid campaigns of the 80s and the clear message given to South Africa that what they were doing was not okay. Is it all down to oil, or is it that Western leaders don’t see women as that important?

    You’ve answered your own question in the last sentence. Yes, and Yes.

  13. Interrobang says

    Back in the 60′s (and probably before) people thought a woman’s uterus would fall out if she ran more than half a mile.

    The old dudes on the IOC still think that a woman’s uterus will fall out if she ski-jumps, which is the stated reason why there is no Olympic women’s ski jump. The unstated reason is that in other high-level ski jumping events, the women routinely beat the men.

    And the attitude that women shouldn’t exercise too much lest they become “huge” and unfeminine is definitely making a resurgence. I’d never heard such a thing until just recently, and that was from a woman much younger than myself. Scary.

  14. crowepps says

    I don’t think the real fear is that women who exercise too much will be become “huge” and unfeminine” but rather that a physically fit woman might be able to fight back.

  15. Godless Heathen says

    The unstated reason is that in other high-level ski jumping events, the women routinely beat the men.

    Seriously? Fuck the IOC. They don’t believe that bullshit about the uterus (although I guess they might if they’re old enough), they just don’t want women beating men in sports, the last domain for manly-men.

    Another interesting fact: In very long distance events (ultra-races) women are much more likely to beat men than they are in shorter events (e.g. marathons and less). They will sometimes come in first overall, which rarely to never happens in other races.

    Anywho, I need to figure out how to support some female ski-jumpers this winter.

  16. says

    Crowepps:

    I don’t think the real fear is that women who exercise too much will be become “huge” and unfeminine” but rather that a physically fit woman might be able to fight back.

    Well, that’s the underlying fear. That’s why “feminine” is constructed to mean “helpless.”

    Years ago, there was an anecdote in Ms. The author was working out in a gym, lifting weights, and some man in the vicinity said, “Wow, I bet your boyfriend doesn’t mess with you, huh?”, followed by a passive-aggressive, sotto voce “…if you even have one.”

  17. HM says

    @Godless Heathen well female ski jumpers did try to get the event included in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. They ended up suing in BC Supreme Court but were eventually told it wasn’t within the jurisdiction of that court to make changes. Caveat I live in BC and followed the story when it was happening, I was also rooting for them to win the case but figured the IOC wouldn’t allow it.

    BC Supreme Court passed the back, which I didn’t like.

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