The article Saudis in Bikinis published in The New York Times by Nicholas D. Kristof discusses the place of women in Saudi Arabia society. The author tells about his visit to Al Riyadh. He touches upon the problem of attitude of local women to the traditions of clothing in their country. Besides, the author analyses whether the women in Saudi Arabia are discriminated. The different opinions on the issue are presented in the article.
The aim of this essay is to analyze the article Saudis in Bikinis by Nicholas D. Kristof.
The culture and traditions of Saudi Arabia are very conservative and are based on the Islamic beliefs, to the large extent. The cultural norms of the country do not create the image of the modern progressive society in Saudi Arabia. The women in the Arabic society are suppressed by the men. There are a lack of understanding of the social and gender relationships between the Western people and the people from Middle East. The women in Saudi Arabia suffer from gender discrimination.
Nicholas D. Kristof, the author of the article, described the situation when he saw three Saudis woman looking at the shop window where rather extravagant and sheer blouse had been displayed (Kristof n.pag.). They were so enthusiastic about the blouse while being covered in the black clothes called abayas that the author started to think about what the real attitude of Arabic women to their social position and clothes restrictions was (Kristof n.pag.).
The author asked the opinion of different women from Saudi Arabia. It could be said that the opinions were divided into those who were satisfied with the cultural norms of their country and those who said that the problem of gender discrimination was obvious in Saudi Arabia. The women from Saudi Arabia who obtained high education in the West agreed with the statement that the women were suppressed by the men in their home country.
They mentioned the problem of the unequal access to education, in particular. Hanan Balkhy stated, ”I don’t think women here have equal opportunities. There are meetings I can’t go to. There are buildings I can’t go into. But you have to look at the context of development. Discrimination will take time to overcome” (Kristof n.pag.).
The author wondered why the choice could not be given to Arabic women. He said that if the choice of the lifestyle was given to them, it would be highly improbable that the majority of women in Saudi Arabia society would have deprived themselves from the opportunity to drive a car, to attend various places in the city, and to wear the clothes more elegant and fashionable than their traditional ones.
However, a significant part of the female population in Saudi Arabia seemed to be against the statement that the women are discriminated in their country. In contrast, they argued that the Western traditions seemed to be weird to them. Some of them claimed that it was the
Western women who were suppressed by the men. They were “effectively arguing that Saudi women were the free ones — free from sexual harassment, free from pornography, free from seeing their bodies used to market cars and colas” (Kristof n.pag.). Moreover, one of the interviewed women claimed that the women in the West were not really free and that, essentially, they were the “toys” of the men (Kristof n.pag.).
These statements are, obviously, contrary to those which have been expressed by the women who have gained the education in the West. It seems that the author also supports the argument that the women in Saudi Arabia are discriminated and suppressed by the men.
The article Saudis in Bikinis by Nicholas D. Kristof uncovers an excellent theme for debates. There are plenty of contradictions and opinions in respect to the problem of social place of women in the countries of the Middle East. The article is rather interesting.
The opinions of the supporters and objectors of the argument that the women are discriminated in Saudi Arabia are presented. The readers can compare them and make their own conclusion. The author also gives his own view on the problem. In my personal opinion, the women in the Arabic countries are really discriminated and suppressed by the men.
At the same time, I think that many of them do not recognize this fact because they simply do not have the opportunity to be actively engaged in the social life. They do not have the opportunity to participate in the debates either. In addition, many of them do not have the high education. It is not surprising that they believe that the cultural norms and traditions in their country are fair and that they give them freedom, as they say.
However, if these women feel themselves comfortable in the society of their home country, probably, they are satisfied with their life and we are not in a position to say that they live in a wrong way.
Kristof, Nicholas D. “Saudis in Bikinis”. 25 October 2002. Nytimes.com. Web. https://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/25/opinion/saudis-in-bikinis.html