ibidbroascele: (Jump)
[personal profile] ibidbroascele
There are a lot of cats around our compound, although lately I have seen rather fewer of them.

I don't know who or what has done away with them but a chat with my flatmate this evening has made me reflect that it was certainly not curiosity.

In most countries I have been in, students ask me questions about my experiences in other countries, about me, what I think of their country. I really don't have conversations like that with my students. I will sometimes talk about the world outside and they might listen with interest. But as I have previously noted what I may talk about is tres limitee. A lot of the girls are obsessed with their phones, with their friends. One girl in my class reads (and in English) but books are in short supply and no one seems to mind.
Views are parroted. The other day I asked students what they liked about Riyadh, I was told 'because it is safe for women', no comment. As I normally don't wear a scarf when I go out I am frequently stared at by a lot of men and it's not a comfortable sensation. Someone tried to squeeze my mammary in the souk the other day. It's harassment such as could happen anywhere but I would certainly not describe this as a particularly safe place for a woman. i felt safer in Moscow. But because they have drivers and never walk how could it occur to them otherwise?
They also said because it is a good place for Muslims. I can understand that, many of my colleagues are Muslims and have opted to live here because they want to live in a Muslim nation. But it doesn't tend to foster critical thinking. I was fascinated the other day by my colleague, a Londoner of Yemani descent, talking about the gym and modesty. She was talking about how she didn't want to see flesh in the gym, how the body was a temple and we had to make sure not everyone has visual access to it. We must not incite desire and how showing flesh in the (all female gym) could potentially be alluring for lesbians (!) and then in the next sentence went on to say how she only wore subtle makeup - but why is she wearing make up in an all female university? why does she make an effort to dress nicely if she doesn't want to attract people? At least to me it was contradictory. Saudi girls are taught their Islam is the only correct way and regional differences are just plain wrong. According to this lady most schools spend a more than a quarter of school time teaching religion http://saudiwoman.me/category/education-2/
And then you get stuff like this http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/05/saudi-sharia-justice-1000-lashes-liberal-activist-bloggers.html#
Their faith is deeply held, but any questioning of any Saudi social more is considered questioning Islam.
I don't think it's entirely that. They are children after all and children don't question things. Indeed I would hate to be a thinking Saudi woman, I would be frustrated every day of my life.


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February 2017


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