MyWorld: Game Show – Saudi Style

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A couple of nights before the start of Ramadan, we happened to be at a local mall and noticed that a stage was ready within the mall for some type of entertainment. Later when we walked back by, a type of contest, or game show if you will, was in progress. There was a Master of Ceremonies (who was quite good, even though I couldn’t understand what he was saying in Arabic) attracting plenty of attention, and there were young boys who were performing passages from the Quran in an apparent contest. The proud parents gathered around the stage which was decorated with balloons and lights and advertising for the sponsor, a large mobile phone company. But what struck me was that men (in white and assorted colors) all grouped over to the left in this venue and the women (in black) were all gathered over on the right, definitely separated from having contact with the men – except in the center where the imaginary line was drawn. I guess this way women in the crowd will not be groped innappropriately or goosed by strange men. But it also means that husbands and wives cannot oogle together about their talented youngsters. Is segregation like this really necessary? If you live in other countries, have you ever been inappropriately touched when in a crowd? What do you think?
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About SusieOfArabia

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

11 Responses to MyWorld: Game Show – Saudi Style

  1. Yefre says:

    been groped for as long as i can remember

    in one incident i was in the market and out of no where someone pressed my arm softly. i turned n didn’t see anyone nor did anyone see it happen. i was 16/17 years old…

    in another incident i was in a crowd watching a dance. and i felt someone pressing hard on me……..that’s when i decided it was enough i deserve some respect so i started wearing a veil and everything stopped no more groping no more frotteurism…….everyone treated me with respect, i had my peace of mind and felt safe.

    Presently, being in a different country (Arab), it’s been worse,

    shop keepers take advantage of the tight shop come up behind you and rub their hands on your back one accidentally touched my chest but instead of stopping there he came up in front of me in the tight/crowded shop and kept going at it *(he was passing a bag to another person in front of me, and accidentally touched me i moved and he came and stood right in front of me shamelessly and kept pushing the bags from one side to the side in front of me and touched me again i was really mad so i moved out), i left and that was in Ramadhan and i am a muslim i observe hijab.

    most often than not when I’m outside there’s at least one guy who would ask for my ‘price’ for the hour, some ask for my number, some just keep following me. sometimes i have to take a taxi to avoid them………….and thats even with dressing decently with a veil. it saddens me i cry myself to sleep when it happens

    From my Experience having lived in a non Arab country and an Arab country (no segregation)
    when i’m in hijab/veil in my country, i never get harassed nor abused in anyway, i do get respect (which i value as a person/woman)

    the above are just a few among a lot of these harassments in my life so far.

    i am really traumatized by these unfortunate experiences and it’s not a good feeling at all.
    i bury them but they crawl back up once in a while and ruins my mood.

    I believe in freedom and equality between genders. but if ‘that’ is the result of that freedom, i would personally vote for segregation in public infrastructures (transports, stadiums..etc).
    *(eg. in japan there’s a train couch or so for ladies only during rush hour)

    *(i was about to sleep and those memories came up, i’m quite overwhelmed by it right now, gonna cry myself to sleep)

    thanks for this post Susie.

    • Dear Yefre – I am so very sorry to have trudged up traumatizing memories for you. I hear these stories all the time. One young woman even told me that she was molested in Mecca while she performing Hajj! I have also been told that by many women that they have been harassed and groped in Muslim countries and that they never had a problem with it in countries where men and women mix freely. Thank you for sharing your stories, and again, my apologies for reminding you of memories you would rather forget.

  2. Louise says:

    It seems extreme to me… like a kid who if you tell “no” about everything is definitely going to get into trouble. I’m all for guidelines, but maybe assuming the worst is going to happen in every situation isn’t the best way to operate life.

  3. Mary Haight says:

    Susie,

    I love your blog. It’s entertaining and informative.

    I wonder, did the people separate themselves “naturally” or was someone there enforcing it? Just curious.

    As far as being groped, never. I agree with Chiara that it probably will happen in cultures where there is more repression and segregation. We human beings have a tendency to create the very thing we fear.

    I live and work in the USA. I work in a small company with three men, I’m the only woman. I’ve always worked with men (I’m a bookkeeper for small companies all of which have been owned by men). I expect men to treat me respectfully and if they don’t I confront them about it. If they still refuse to treat me with respect then I find another job. Usually when I confront a man about his behavior he is embarrassed and then he admires me for it and changes his behavior. Very few will continue as before and there the type you don’t want to be around anyway!

    What bothers me about Saudi Arabia is the lack of freedom of choice. If women want to wear abaya’s and keep separate from men, that’s one thing, but to have it forced upon them, that’s a whole ‘nother thing!

    Susie, I live in the Pacific NW. I don’t know how how you could leave this beautiful and cool place to go to a place so hot and stifling. I admire you but I know I would never do it, not for any man. I love my independence and I love to drive my car!

    Mary

    • Hi Mary – Thanks for your comment. I can’t say for sure how it happened, but I think there is just a natural segregation of the sexes at events such as this. They run the risk of having it shut down by the religious police if men and women are not separated like this.

      • Mary Haight says:

        Hi Susie,

        Thanks for your response. I’ve been following your blog for some time but have never before posted a comment. I’m fascinated by Saudia Arabia but also frightened by it. I grew up with a tyrannical father and didn’t really know personal freedom until I was in my 30’s which is probably what has made me so fiercly independent. I admire your courage and your love for your family. I hope that your husband appreciates how much you are sacrificing.
        Mary

  4. Dimple says:

    I was once groped (not in a crowd) as I was walking down a street near my college in California by a man who rode by on a bicycle. And once on a crowded cable car in San Francisco a man rubbed himself against me until I shifted position a little.

    I can’t speak for everywhere, of course, but I think the chance (how big a chance I have no idea) of being inappropriately touched exists whenever men and women are together.

    However, I do not think strict segregation of the sexes is that good an idea when it separates spouses.

    • Hi Dimple – I definitely enjoy myself much better when I am with my husband and son, rather than separated off usually in an entirely different room with a bunch of women I don’t really know who are speaking Arabic – it’s not really my idea of a good time. I want to share my time with my family, not strangers.

  5. Geogypsy says:

    I think the segregation is a sad situation. But that’s their cultural way. I’ve never been “groped” without giving permission first.

  6. Chiara says:

    I was inappropriately touched on a bus in France, by a person whom I later in Psychiatry training learned suffered from frotteurism. Otherwise in my experience in the West groping is not a problem. However, it is more common in more repressed cultures, where there are fewer opportunities for the so-inclined to pretend they are doing it as part of a normal relationship.

  7. Jerry M says:

    “If you live in other countries, have you ever been inappropriately touched when in a crowd?”

    Me, no but I have known women who were groped in the subway in NYC.

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