Why They Make Fun of Us?

Arab News reports:

Saudi women expressed outrage at Chelsea Handler, the American host of the TV show “Chelsea Lately,” when she swore at Saudi men for being able to receive notification by SMS of their wives’ travels abroad.

Here’s the 35 seconds long clip that got these women outraged:

The first woman quoted in the story says Handler does not understand how the system works:

Sabah Abdulmalik, a 42-year-old stay-at-home-mom said, “I would like to inform Chelsea that this is only a service that people can activate or decline and that this was not forced upon us,” said.

“This service was developed by the Saudi authorities and not by husbands who want to track their wives, so when she says such a word, she should know that it was not conceived of at a local level and that it’s a matter of choice,” she added.

It might be true that the SMS notifications are an optional service (although it is more complicated than that), but you are ignoring elephant in the room: guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia do not allow women to leave the country without permission from their guardians. In the past it was the notorious yellow slip, now it is the infamous text messages.

Saudi fashion designer Reem AlKanhal says she respects freedom of speech but this crossed the line. “I think we have deeper problems than traveling, driving and covering our faces. They only focus on the aspects of our lives that make them laugh and we hate to be the butt of jokes on live television,” she said.

If we don’t want to be the butt of jokes then we should fix our “deeper problem.” Complaining about others laughing at us will not solve these problems, especially when we are not allowed to discuss and tackle them because of the red lines that you say Hanlder has crossed one of them.

A female Saudi blogger who chose to remain anonymous said that Chelsea’s clip was offensive not only to Saudi women, but to Islam as well. “We learned that Muslim women should not leave the house without the approval of their husbands and I think it’s the right thing to do,” she said.

“Her words were very aggressive and we do not accept such attacks, especially using bad words knowing that this is not how we were raised and this is not normal to us in Arab, local TV shows and talk shows,” she added.

You would think that bloggers are opinionated people who want to express their ideas and stand behind them, but this is not the case here. Here, you have a blogger who wants to be anonymous. She is like the anti-blogger. She complains that Handler, a comedienne who was talking on a late night show, used “bad words.” What are you, five? She adds that “this is not normal to us in Arab, local TV shows and talk shows.” First, this was not an Arab or local show. Second, you almost certainly watched this on YouTube, i.e. you chose to click and watch this. Nobody forced you to do this. Oh and by the way, since you seem easily offended, you should probably stop using the Internet.

Sarah Essam, a 32-year-old mother of two, wonders how Chelsea thought she was defending Saudi women in making these statements. “I know that using shocking language and discussing controversial topics are surefire ways to attract a larger audience, but this is beyond disrespectful and she crossed the line,” she said.

“Thanks to her words, she actually made us defend our husbands and stand behind this service even if we don’t approve of it,” she added.

Again with the damn line. But wait, Handler’s comments made you “stand behind this service even if we don’t approve of it”? Wow, talk about Stockholm Syndrome.

Mariam Hejazi, a 28-year-old banker, demanded an apology from Chelsea. “We have been tolerating the international media for a really long time. How can they judge a whole nation when funnily enough, it is their motto to “never judge a book by its cover,” she said.

Poor Hejazi is upset. Very upset. How dare this Handler comedienne make fun of her plight? How insensitive of her. Okay, khalas, international media will no longer talk about Saudi women issues because someone’s feelings are hurt. Promise. Pinky promise.

In the end, the newspaper has managed to find at least one woman who was not offended by the clip:

Yasmine Abdulrazak, an English teacher at a college in Jeddah, thinks the clip was actually funny and did not feel offended by it. “I don’t know why we are always offended when people talk about us. Yes, the media highlights the negative things about Saudi Arabia and they always make women feel like we need a hero to save us,” she said.

“Chelsea is a comedian and her job is to mock people and attack others to make her audience laugh. We see her make fun of celebrities, politicians and nations but they do not express offense in the same way we did today,” she added.

I found a few more on Twitter. Here’s one of them:


16 thoughts on “Why They Make Fun of Us?

  1. We in the West find it funny that Saudi Arabia embraces modern technology in order to support traditional practices. Marriage should be about trust and it sounds as if Saudi men just don’t trust their spouses. One wonders why their isn’t a service texting women when the men leave the country?

  2. I found it funny and ironic. She actually expressed how most of us Saudi women feel. The women interviewed should wake up and smell the humos!

  3. These women should just relax and take a chill-pill. I laughed out loud when I saw the clip. It’s just a joke, why do Saudis always have to get so easily offended by everything..sigh.

  4. Despite the System’s Obstructive Policies, Saudi Women Gain Strength

    CDHR’s Commentary: Denying Saudi women the right to drive, the right to work, the right to advanced education and restricting them to cosmetic public positions are neither due to Islam nor to tradition, as the evasive Saudi regime, its censored media, its domestic beneficiaries and foreign recipients of Saudi largess misleadingly argue. When Islam was established and Muslim text books were written, about 15 centuries ago, there were no cars, planes, McDonald’s, Starbucks, universities or any knowledge of the world outside of nomadic encampments. The main transportation at that time was camels and the main foods (subsistence) consisted of dates, grains, camel milk and dried locusts.

    Abaya (the invented black covering for women) did not exist during the founding of Islam either. If it did, it would have been mentioned in the Quran like elephants, locusts, cows and ants. Now, there are consultations of self-appointed uneducated Muslim clerics in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere who insist that it’s un-Islamic for women to drive cars, show their faces, work or interact with men publicly, according to their ungodly self-serving interpretation of religious texts. These toxic practices are invented by the current ruling Saudi autocratic and theocratic men for no reason other than fear of a united society where men and women can work and socialize as equal citizens and debate issues of national interest which rulers fear most.

    Despite a multitude of institutionalized discriminatory measures against Saudi women, they are struggling to obtain their legitimate rights and in the process they are gaining more self-confidence, recognition and support domestically and globally. Saudi Arabia can benefit immensely from integrating women into the workforce specifically because they need and want to work. They could do most of the jobs that are being done by millions of expatriate workers in the public and private sectors. Employing Saudi women is doable, desirable and in the best interest of the country. Sadly, the best interest of the Saudi people is not compatible with the profit margin many in the royal family make from imported workers.

  5. It is really sad to see how years of brainwashing had its effect on the Saudi society. These women didn’t only condemn Chelsea for what she said; they went on to support this ridiculous decision (which most probably was suggested by one of the so called religious scholars in our country).
    The majority of Saudis will become so defensive when foreigners criticize them and will accuse them of trying to destroy Islam or change their traditions or something equally irrelevant.

    The point is..the world doesn’t revolve around Saudi and Comedians will continue to make fun of whatever they like. Jokes however will continue as long as more ridiculous news keep coming from our missed up society ( like the 70 year old that married a 15 year old teen).. Just keep giving material guys !!

  6. wtf is this garbage blog about. by the looks of these posts it a bunch of goofy self hating arabs or someone pretending to be arab/saudi. saudi arabia is the best country on the planet. you sound like a bunch of uncle toms and housenegro arabs. islam rules! saudi arabia #1! im fron the west and i can tell a bunch of wannabe western sellouts when i see them. nobody likes you. bunch of political intellectual wannabe losers.

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