I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar!

Woman swimming in the Red Sea

Woman swimming in the Red Sea

Fully clad from head to toe in her black cloak, called abaya, and her black head scarf, called hijab – nothing stops this Muslim woman from cooling off in the beautiful blue water of the Red Sea.   I saw two women, fully clothed, submerged in the water on this hot day.  They both stayed fairly close to the water’s edge, but stayed down in the water so as not to show their bodies.  While men can swim in trunks, women are forbidden from swimming in swimsuits, so most women never, ever go in the water.  Muslim women must be Islamically dressed when out in public, which means only the face and hands can be exposed, and clothing must be loose fitting.  In Saudi Arabia, women are required to wear the abaya, but Muslim women in most other countries are free to dress modestly and wear bright colors.  (#5, concluding the series of 5)


About SusieOfArabia

American woman now living in hubby's homeland of Saudi Arabia
This entry was posted in Culture, Life, Middle East, Photo, Saudi Arabia, Tradition and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar!

  1. Susan says:

    Yes, I’ve seen it … tho some argue the material is still too clingy. For the sensitivities of societies remiss to partake in the already present supply … these other options await creation.

    Otherwise, if it exists, why don’t they wear it?

  2. 2sweetnsaxy says:

    I find this fascinating. It’s such a different culture.

  3. Hi Susan! There actually is Islamic swimwear available now. You can Google it and find many websites offering Islamically correct swimwear for women.

  4. Hi Susan! There actually is Islamic swimwear available now. You can Google it and find many websites offering Islamically correct swimwear for women.

  5. Hi Elaine! I remember having the same feelings that you described when I was a teenager growing up in a small town in America. I had four brothers and I was the only girl, and I felt that they were allowed so many more privileges than I, and I was the one stuck with all the chores. I can remember thinking that I wish I had been born a boy, and how things just weren’t fair for women.
    You’re right – I don’t think many women here are taught to swim. When I go to the sea here, there are so many women going on boat rides, dressed in their black from head to toe gear, and no safety jackets of course. I am so afraid that one of these days, there will be an accident and lives will be lost.

  6. Susan says:

    The technology and materials exist to construct women’s swimsuits – suitable for these guidelines. It would be non-fitting to the torso, etc. light enough to navigate ones self through the water without feeling cumbersome. And emerging from the water, no one should be alarmed by her modesty not being in check.

    About 100 years ago, they used to have little changing tents/huts on the beaches where people would change into their swimming outfits from their street-clothes. “Changing tents” could be easily constructed, aluminum and fabric …

    There’s no reason why women can’t go to the beach, swim, enjoy, and have to worry about the outline of their bodies being incorrectly observed by those who are disallowed to see them. It’s just a matter of doing it – making the suits.

    There’s a whole new industry waiting for development adding to the upcoming toursim industry the government has been working on building … there you have it

  7. Elaine says:

    This was a great series of images and questions, Susie. I remember feeling the injustice of double standards from my very earliest memories in the 60s, even here in America, before I even knew the words to describe my feelings and the injustice I was seeing and experiencing. I think in a more restrictive society, I would just be depressed all the time, and just not understand why.

    When I lived with a Turkish family for a summer as a teenager, I saw that men and women both wore swimsuits, but only the men and boys seemed to know how to swim. It felt strange to be the only girl diving and swimming around in the water. If you were never taught how to swim, you would logically stay close to shore.

  8. Hi Ilse! I wondered about when these women would get out of the water, although I wasn’t around when that happened. Perhaps one of their children would hold up a big towel to drape around the women so their forms wouldn’t be visible to others? You are so right about how the men here make their own rules – it is definitely a male-dominated society.

    Hi Ab! Thanks for your comment – glad to hear that you enjoyed the series. It’s the first one I have ever done. It was fun.

    Hi Ade! I appreciate your comment. Yes, other Islamic countries have seemed to manage nicely without placing so many restrictions on women. Change is very slow in coming here.

  9. Ade says:

    Very nice post u’ve made. Islam in Saudi Arabia is very strict and in some aspects have been bias with the conception of Islam it self. I think Marroco, Indonesia, Malaysia, Tunisia, or even Palestine and many other countries are more comfortable employed a moderate and friendly Islam.

  10. Ab says:

    Nice series and good concluding picture. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Ilse says:

    P.S. Loved your reaction to men selling underwear to women dressed as nuns. As I wrote there . . . why look for logic in an essentially irrational situation? These guys . . . they are playing with a different deck of cards & another set of rules. The whole western notion of the rights of the individual & equal protection of the laws . . . it’s not a viable theory for them. There once was a time when women could not vote in western-style democracies.

  12. Ilse says:

    Fantastic! Thanks so much. I guess they cannot go out too far or the robe will drag them under. So . . . how about that wet thing clinging to their bodies? Is that like too exciting? Remember the scene of Bo Derek in TEN walking out of the water with those amazing braids? Now that’s going back a ways.

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