Saudi women took the Internet by storm when they shocked us all with a powerful music video pleading to put a stop to the male guardianship system.
In Western countries, women are fighting for liberal rights. In Saudi Arabia, women are still fighting for their basic human rights. The lives of Saudi women are controlled by men; they need to have a male guardian who must give his authorization in regards of critical decisions about her life. All women in Saudi Arabia must obtain permission from their assigned male guardian, whether it’s their fathers, brothers, husbands or sons, to marry, travel, work or access healthcare. The men in their lives must provide them with consent to do any of the latter. Naturally, they face great difficulty in conducting legal transactions and claims without the need of a man in their life to act as their legal guardian.
For a long time now, women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia have been calling on the government to abolish the male guardianship system, but sadly, to no avail. The Saudi government only reformed some aspects of the guardianship system, however, it still remains ineffective and insufficient.
After their relentless pleading, Saudi women decided to take a different route to fight for their equal rights. This time, they decided to use art as their medium for expressing their discontent and exasperation. And we couldn’t be more grateful for exposing us to such a powerful and colorful music video that tackles such a dark and grim reality.
The lyrics of the video: “May all men disappear from the earth; they give us psychological illnesses. Damn, you feel none of them is sane. My luck is like a sandstorm and my loved ones are like candy wraps.”
The video opens with a bunch of women sitting in the backseat while a male kid sits behind the wheels to state what a sad state of affairs it is that women are banned from driving in Saudi Arabia. The men in the video are bewildered by the women who are skateboarding, playing basketball and dancing and are looking at them with eyes that want to scream: “Surely, this can’t be true”. Two other men are shown to be standing in front of an airplane and dancing, because they can travel whenever they want while women aren’t allowed without the consent of a male guardian.
A lot of controversy has been surrounding the viral music video. Some people believe that the video poorly represents the issue of gender inequality because of the heated lyrics. They believe that the attitude of hating the entire gender of men is equally oppressive, but towards men, therefore unproductive in establishing gender equality among both sexes.
Others have commented that given their choice of colorful and “bling” attire, then the men in their lives can’t really be THAT bad since they allow them to wear such clothes. More people have also expressed their opinions on how Saudi women won’t be able to give up the luxury that their men provide them with and that they won’t be able to handle hard labour, because they’ve always been pampered and cared for.
Moreover, some people criticized that the women in the video were wearing veils and niqabs while breaking gender boundaries, because it contradicts the message they are trying to send. But of course, the women in the video had to keep their identities secret in order to avoid future problems that could lead to execution.
Lastly, people have been wondering about the relevancy of Donald Trump in the video and saying that it could have just been a ploy to get wider recognition. But I think it’s safe to say that the Donald Trump in the video represents all misogynist and sexist men as he himself has expressed that men are superior to women (you can read all of Donald Trump’s sexist comments here).
It’s a sad world that some people think that women wouldn’t be able to handle equal citizenship. So kudos for the brave women who made this video! Kudos for them for fighting for their basic human rights and calling to abolish the system that impedes basic rights.