Monday, 6 February 2012

M.I.A's Bad Girls- and Saudi Ban on Women Driving

 M.I.A 's Bad Girls song has been making waves in Saudi, and maybe some other parts of the world where people are 'concerned' with women's rights' in Saudi Arabia.
Before I discuss the video, and my opinions and more, I would like to get a few FAQs out of the way.

FAQs about M.I.A's Bad Girls music video
The lead 'singer' M.I.A (Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam)  is NOT Saudi, she is a British rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, painter and director of Sri Lankan Tamil descent.

The music video Bad Girls was NOT filmed in Saudi Arabia, it was filmed in Morroco-there is a  big difference, in fact the countries are on 2 different continents.

I'm not sure where the background extras are from, but I would bet any amount that they are not from Saudi Arabia.


Ok, where do I start? Well, like  most women in Saudi Arabia, I believe, that women should be allowed to drive. In my most frustrated moments, when I have no one to take me to a destination 5 minutes drive from my house, and am not able to go I have a lot to vent.

But in my calm moments, I realise the change will have to come gradually in society, for example finally after decades of inconvenience we have saleswomen in lingerie stores. I think as women take a greater role in public life, we will see more acceptance of women driving.

I am not a fan of Saudi bashing as it I think it is morally incorrect to bite the hand that feeds you. I also believe it is an internal Saudi problem, and that it isn't one that demands the amount of media attention it is lauded with. The Telegraph blog did an article titled Watch: M.I.A's middle finger to Saudi Arabia's insane driving laws trumps Madonna's sexy pop  both article and comments below it seem to be using the driving ban to spew hate against the 'Islamic kingdom' , the Middle East, its culture and more. I really wish that Saudi religous academics had never issued that stupid report saying that women driving will lead to pornography, homosexuality..and wait for it more virgins. I guess if you say things you are asking for a response in the form of that article at the very least.

It also begs the question, that since men drive, often illegally from the age of 12, that must mean none of them are virgins, as soon as they start driving they become gay,  and indulge in pornography- while the women stay at home all pure and straight. I think by this logic, Saudi men should be banned from driving too and only foreigners should be permitted to drive, since they are n't in any danger of losing their morals as they were born in open societies. It also paints a very disturbing picture of society where a driving ban is the only thing preventing the Islamic Kingdom from turning into the Kingdom of Sin!

Secondly, the video shows Saudi style drifting which is a serious problem, and it glamourises these dangerous  activites of the youth. Her lyrics, 'Live fast , die young' are all too representative of that lifestyle, and I think the youth  don't need further encouragement. Too many young livesare lost this way every day.

The rest of the song  lyrics and music itself is not too my taste, the only thing I like is the Arabic music riff .

The song will serve to enrage people who are actually for women driving as Western interference/taunting is never approved by the mainstream Saudi population. Even the youth who listens to Western music is getting sick and tired of the stereotyping that goes on. If the opponents of women driving become aware of the video, it will only reinforce their stance that it is part of a Western agenda to loosen the morals of Saudi women.

On a final note, the way people who are supposed to be Arab/Saudi don the headgear in any movie/ music video etc made in the West make me cringe. Its like they think you can just put a cloth on your head and some sort ring or tie another cloth on top of htat nad you are done. Sigh! I'll havet odo apost on the wonderful different ways to wear Shemagh or Ghuthra and how it makes most Saudi men look better with than without- not the cartoonish caricatures you always seen in Hollywood representations. 

I am not sure if it will make M.I.A more popular, maybe next time she can do a song about the hundreds being killed in Syria while the world watches in silence.

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  1. I totally agree with you.. and from my view I think Saudi girls and women are a target for most of opened societies.. I really really hope that the decision of driving cars by women is seen as a positive step to give women more independence and give her confidant and trust... Saudi women drive cars outside Saudi Arabia..lots of them got a forign driving licence after passing the practical test successfully.. And they still fine and nothing is wrong.. I think the Saudi nation should be more open minded on this point instead of leaving their youn doughters alone with the forign driver...
    Saudi Girl

  2. Not quite sure MIA wanted to take on Saudi driving laws. Lucy Jones just assumed this. So, maybe MIA just wanted to base her vid on the already known fact that in Arab motoring culture some think it's cool to burn rubber. And maybe she just took the liberty to mix elements of Arab culture with glitter jumpsuits, cool sunglasses and see through cars. Let's call it artistic liberty. A bit like American movies where they depict the Dutch as wood clog idiots in front of windmills - or worse, cliché Amsterdam coffee shops. I'm not offended...

  3. @Saudi Girl- Thanks ofr stopping by and commenting-) and yes, many Saudi women do drive in other countries without any problem, and a mother driving around her kids should be a safer option than a strange man

    @Anonymous- It wasn't just Lucy Jones that took MIA's video to be targeted at Saudi, many online news papers and mags, and even the blogosphere ins general understood her to be talking about Saudi driving laws. Everyone's sensitivity level to such things is different and its one thing to make fun of a country's language or way of dressing which is done all the time; but when the Western media journalists and artists alike routinely misrepresent, taunt and ridicule the local culture- it gets old-fast, its like Sacha Brown Cohen, (Ali G) showing up at the OScars dressed as a general and dispersing ash on Ryan Seacrest at the red carpert- distatesful.

  4. @ Anonymous Oh and thanks for stopping by I guess we'll just agree to disagree :-)