How cool is this? Wow, a member of the Saudi royal family says he sure does hope that someday, little girls in Saudi Arabia can grow up to play sports! (But not with men. Never with men.)
Appealing to a powerful Saudi prince, an 8-year-old girl asked why she was not allowed to play sports in school like boys. She got an unexpected response: The prince said he hoped government schools for girls would allow playing fields.
And how cool is this? The AP is taking this mealy-mouthed, patronizing anti-feminist pap and pushing it like it’s the equivalent of America’s Title IX.
The stand taken by Prince Khaled al-Faisal, governor of the holy city of Mecca and one of the most senior second-generation members of the royal family, on the controversial issue is the strongest official endorsement so far of women’s sports and a sign the government may be tilting toward opening up on that front.
And exactly why is it such obvious bullshit? Because in the next breath, the AP reports this:
Physical education classes are banned in state-run girls schools in conservative Saudi Arabia. Saudi female athletes are not allowed to participate in the Olympics. Women’s games and marathons have been canceled when the powerful clergy get wind of them. And some clerics even argue that running and jumping can damage a woman’s hymen and ruin her chances of getting married.
“Conservative”? Ronald Reagan was a conservative. A better description of Saudi Arabia would be “feudal.” Except I’m pretty sure that women had more rights in feudal Europe than they have in modern Saudi Arabia. And lest you think that the prince was suggesting any form of equality for women, think again:
According to local newspapers, the 8-year-old girl told Khaled: “I ask myself why is it that only boys can play sports and have courts while we girls don’t have anything?”
“I hope to see sports courts for girls inside girls’ schools,” the prince responded, according to Al-Hayat newspaper.
He said if this were to happen, it will be in coordination with the Education Ministry and “according to certain mechanisms that take into consideration women’s privacy in this country.”
Yes, the fabled privacy excuse. Because given half the chance, women in Muslim lands won’t throw off the shackles of repression and try to live normal lives. Oh, wait. Yes, they will (cf: Afghanistan, Iraq).
But when you live with medieval freaks like these, well, your choices are limited:
A statement issued by three senior clerics last month lashed out at Saudis who demand the opening of more gyms for women, saying such a move would “open the doors wide for spreading decadence.”
“It is well-known that only women with no shame will go to these clubs,” said the statement signed by clerics Abdul-Rahman al-Barrack, Abdul-Aziz al-Rajihi and Abdullah bin Jibrin.
In a recent column in Al-Watan newspaper, Sheik Abdullah al-Mani, an adviser at the royal court, said virgins should think twice before engaging in sports.
“Soccer or basketball require running and jumping and these could damage (a woman’s) the hymen,” he wrote. “If she marries, her husband will … think that her hymen was destroyed as a result of an (immoral) action.”
“He will either divorce her or lose confidence in her chastity,” he added.
But sure, let’s respect their culture and traditions. Because practices like these simply cry out for respect.