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By ATWadmin On May 30th, 2008

I don’t actually wear a sports bra (yet), even if I am quite a few pounds heavier than the long distance runner I used to be in High School and manbras have been introduced on Seinfeld.  But I recall the sisters burning their bras in the 70’s to protest gender inequality and damn it, I think it makes some sense now. 

As pointed out on another thread by one of the grand ladies of ATW to whom I am indebted, protests over China’s Olympics have focused on Tibet, a worthy cause.  But little or nothing has been done to highlight the plight of women in certain Islamic nations.  Three states who will be participating in the Olympics ban women from international competition – Saudi Arabia, Brunei and United Arab Emirates.  Need I say what they have in common?  A radical form of Islam and a deplorable view of women, plus oil.  Other nations with Islamic populations, Turkey, Morocco and Indonesia have women atheletes so this isn’t really a religious issue as much as it is a control of women issue.  

The Saudis are the worst offenders, and if it was Black folks, Jewish folks, or Christian folks that were banned we all know the offending nation would be ostracized internationally.  Some crackpot preacher in Saudi has issued a fatwa against women who participate in sports.  What a punk.  I give a shout out to Jedda United, a women’s basketball team that plays in defiance of their society’s strictures.  Yet there is no sustained protest agains the Saudi team’s participation.  Taiwan can’t even march under their own flag because they’ve committed the sin of not wishing to live under communism.  But at least they can participate.  Do we abandon these women even more?  Some day maybe we’ll have the decency, so that someone like Hassiba Boulmerka of Algeria can win her nation’s first Gold Medal.  Until then, the Olympics is a farce.        


  1. Mahons

    Good post. This needs to be highlighted.

    But be careful. You’ll have the neo-cons agitating for Saudi Arabia to be invaded in the name of the spread of univsersal human rights. And we all know what a success that has been in Iraq. One dictator toppled, one state destroyed, one sectarian bloodbath unleashed, one Al Queda training ground created, and one winner (yet to be declared formally) – Iran.

  2. Well i said on the other post it will take a few good men to help them out. And here you are. Sick of feminists arguing this and getting panned. It will be the men who make the difference for these women locally – so maybe the men in the West can redirect their muslim asses.

    Nice one.

    I think the bra thing was a myth by the way.

  3. Cheers Peter. Alison, I think it is a worthy topic and it never would have occured to me until you introduced it. I feel like an idiot for not seeing it in the first place. And feeling like an idiot is a condition I experience more often these days. Enjoy the weekend and your superior beer!

  4. Mahons,

    Good man for spotlighting this. Respect.

  5. 😉 I’m drinking Coors Light (its rubbish but i get to slam away a few more than usual)

  6. Well said Mahons. The brutal truth is that too many of the media sisterhood ignore the appalling treatment of women by the ROP states.

  7. Alison,

    "I’m drinking Coors Light"

    Oops, don’t go near any canoes okay? :0)

  8. A wedding – and a rather slinky bridesmaid dress to wear. Canoes are perfectly safe with me 😉

  9. >>and if it was Black folks, Jewish folks, or Christian folks that were banned we all know the offending nation would be ostracized internationally.<<

    Well, it’s not quite the same thing. Sport is a physical activity, and people of all religions and races are equally able to compete, so it makes sense that they compete together. In sport, the sexes are already separated for the same reason (some Saudi would also no doubt point out that women were banned entirely from the original Olympics).

    But it’s a great cause. Although the main focus would be on Saudi, it would benefit women all over the Arab world and indeed in sub-saharan Africa and other non-islamic societies.
    Beijing is obviously a bad place to start, as the Chinese are obsessed about having a trouble-free Olympics and have a phobia about all forms of protest, etc. Probably, as in most such cases, the best that could happen is if some individual case is given prominence and becomes something of a cause celebre.
    It’s going to be very difficult. Remember, in Saudi Arabia any woman who as much as speaks her mind is immediately a slut and a whore in the eyes of society. Many men in the west could in fact also find themselves a bit uncomfortable about some of the issues raised.

  10. I think London would be perfect for this and im willing to put on a political statement t shirt as suggested.

  11. Well I posted my bit on this over at the coffee thread.

    While we’re on the general topic though, and I suppose this is minor by comparison, why is there never a woman umpire in the chair for the men’s final at Wimbledon? At least I don’t recall ever seeing one and I’ve watched it for years. I know they have women umpires because they are there at the women’s final. This isn’t Saudi Arabia it is the UK in 2008. What in the hell is that about?

  12. Are you serious over on the other thread Frank? (see my question).

    Women have only just got the money sorted out for winnings in tennis eg equality of pay outs. Though they only play 3 sets.

  13. Coors light is good stuff – let’s you maintain a nice low grade buzz.

    I’ll throw a monkey wrench in the lovefest here. I really don’t care about Saudi women personally. I don’t think most people do, not enough to make a statement or form a boycott, or go to war. I buy into the argument (I’ve made it myself) that no society will ever come close to being free if it systemically treats half of their people as property. I do believe that societies that treat women as equal human beings are less likely to commit terrorism.

    I also think the comment Phantom made on another thread is true – most of these women you’re advocating for would reject your intervention.

    This post and the feelings expressed in the comments are just pc feel good words. The current worldwide governmental take on the middle east is; let them maintain their culture. Until you have enough islamic people rejecting sharia & wahhabism, there won’t be any changes at all.

  14. Also Frank – do you read Butterflies & Wheels blog? Have you read the book by the blog’s author Ophelia Benson called: Does God Hate Women? by any chance

  15. Such campaigns are always driven by a strong lobby of exiles in western countries. I have only ever met one Saudi exile (he was running a bar, actually, and was saying things about his homeland that would embarrass even Troll), but there must be many of them in a place like London.

  16. >>This post and the feelings expressed in the comments are just pc feel good words. <<

    Daphne, speak for yourself!

    >>most of these women you’re advocating for would reject your intervention.<<

    As I said on the other thread, the point is irrelevant, because the issue must be seen as one of universal human rights. There was no survey of blacks in South Africa to find out how many were happy with Apartheid and how many were too scared to complain.

    Another thing is that any such campaign will surely fail if it is hijacked by those interested only in opening up a new front against "Islam".

  17. Alison, I’ve not come across that blog or the author before…her books sound interesting though I can’t find the one you mentioned on amazon.

    The blog looks good too but there’s so much of it! Is there a way to read that as a blog feed without getting a million articles a day?

  18. There was no survey of women in the West on the vote etc. Im sure i saw a programme on how little enthusiasm there was for equality and the vote here in certain sections of western society. We would all still be doing embroidery, keeping mute on politics and learning piano – if it wasn’t for a small vocal bunch of radical ‘nutters’ and a lot of men.

    I think the effect on terrorism and ME/West crap through equality would be enormous. Plus i just hate the way religion treats women. (And i hate looking at niqabs here and the message it sends little girls here. Pisses me off)

    Count me in on any 2012 demo. Im serious if anyone else is.

    Frank – On the Butterflies thing – the best bit is the ‘Dispatches’ section at the top which is the blog bit…she covered the Saudi women there i just noticed. Same article too. But I don’t totally get her point.


  19. Daphne, and others who think that Westerners protesting Saudi treatment of women is silly:

    It’s not because it puts the Saudis – and most importantly radical islamists in the Middle East — on defense.

    For some time now, radical islamists have been on offense against the West.

    And the West has been fighting back by protesting encroaching calls for Sharia. Think of all the lawsuits and conversations in the media about this. Can a woman have a drivers license covered in a burka? Or see patients, go on trial etc. It’s been an offensive, aggressive campaign against the customs of the West, with the end goal being adaptation of Sharia in the West.

    Any campaign for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia changes the framework of the debate. Suddenly Saudi society has to explain to the West why enslavement of its women is OK.

    It’s a huge, great thing not because it changes the Middle East but because it helps the West protect herself.

  20. Noel – I always speak for myself, unlike some of you group politic thinkers. Apartheid is a relevant point – it’s nice to see how well that social change has worked out; a prosperous country is now a failed shithole. This one should work out just as well if you don’t want to fundamentally change Islam (or go to war with islamic tenants). Get real.

    Good luck with that Patty. If you can get the Leftist activists on board you may see Congress issue a condemnation or some sanctions. Maybe the MSM will get on board. The Republican party will NEVER sanction SA or condone, endorse or promote any change of the status quo in that country. Corporate America won’t be to keen on this move either.

    Have fun kids!

  21. You know what Patty, your comment deserved a better response than I gave.

    I was exactly where you’re at six years ago. My inner cynic has now settled in regarding our government, the UN, charity orgs., and rights groups. I don’t believe they really want to change a damn thing at any fundamental level. They all have two goals; don’t destabilize things too much and don’t dry up the money.

    It would be wonderful if Saudi women, all women, lived like we do – but, Im very dubious that we’re going to see those changes until our government, and others, decide that Islam is bad in it’s current form. They just don’t seem willing to condemn Islamic social structures at this point in time when sensitive multi-culturalist thought rules the day.

    Your instincts are right, if you give women power, the region will eventually change. I just don’t see any of the big players getting behind this at the moment. They might even squash your efforts.

  22. Daphne: Ouch, wounded by the Yellow Rose of Texas. I may have to console myself by abandoning my Budweiser boycott and watching some Amos and Andy movies to deprogram myself.

    Think of it this way. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball when the Brooklyn Dodgers signed him, before Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King came into national attention. We can use a smal start to change a great problem. it is worth a try. I know our politicians and pundits may push us into cynicism, but we got to stop letting the tail wag the dog.

  23. I told you I might be prickly tonight darlin’.

    It’s a worthy cause, but it has no legs.

    Go save a needy kid in your city, it’ll have more meaningful long-lasting repercussions than another protest movement, especially one in Saudi Arabia.

  24. Daphne – LOL. Perhaps prickly will deflate my inflated sense of injustice. But right you are, local good works are important. I am constantly humbled by the folks in my community who do them. The VFW Post up the road has a bunch of old farts who sit around drinking beer and chain smoking, the kinda guys and their wives who seem to be the folks the media and Hollywood feel they can mock with impunity. But guess who mans the volunteer fire brigade, collects toys for kids at Christmas, drives the ambulance in an emergecny, and collects money for people with disabilities and health problems. They do. I try to learn from them, and it is kind of a simple message, be neighborly and do the right thing. Clearly I am buzzed, but i might still be right.

  25. Mahons, we are all right tonight. (heh!) Helping our fellow man up the ladder is a great thing. I’m just critical of any success of this movement right now, maybe after Bush is gone?

    I signed up for CASA training last week, I’ll start next fall after the kids go back.

    My backyard could use some tidying up, so I’m going to put my time and money where my mouth is.

    Micro loans are very beneficial for Muslim women worldwide – do that for their independence. Don’t just blog and wear protest t-shirts, act.

  26. Good for you Daphne.

    I don’t think I have a protest t-shirt.

  27. Do you need one with a built-in bra, that can be arranged. 🙂

    What slogan do you see on the front?

    *I’m gonna go work on that – could be funny shit……

  28. oooh, how about BITCH




  29. Daphne: I’ve been a way abit. Couldn’t get back to respond.

    I’m not talking about changing the fate of women in the Middle East by campaigning for Saudi women freedoms. I’m talking about changing the fate of women in the West by aggressively campaigning for Saudi women freedoms.

    Rather than defend our freedoms in say, the city of London — a struggle we are losing because we cave in the face of multiculturalism and complacency — we can change our passive, helpless posture by reframing the argument,by aggressively attacking the Saudis on their lack of freedoms.

  30. Mahons – I totally agree the offending countries should not be allowed to participate in the Olympics. Be careful about wearing a Tshirt which offends Muslims in London Alison! Maybe lots of people would wear them men & women…a start has to be made. If Saudi women protest they are killed as simple as that but we in the West can make a difference. Governments should join in as they did in protests for South Africa. Where’s Desmond Tutu he’s always campaigning perhaps we can enlist him (poor joke)!

    There is a big factor which may prohibit western governments from protesting and we all know it’s name …oil!

  31. In the future Islam will have far more influence on the status of women in the west than the we will have in Islamic states.

    From this mornings Irish Times

    French outrage at annulment because bride was not virgin

    LARA MARLOWE in Paris

    FRANCE HAS reacted with shock and outrage to a decision by the high court in Lille to annul a marriage because the bride was not a virgin.

    The case involving a Muslim couple has revived fears that France’s second religion is eroding the country’s secular tradition.

    Two years ago, a 30-year-old French engineer, a convert to Islam, married a 20-year-old Muslim nursing student in the northern town of Roubaix. She had assured her fiance that she was a virgin.

    The last of 500 wedding guests were still drinking mint tea in the hotel reception when the bridegroom returned, distraught because there were no bloodstains on the sheets of the marital bed. He contacted his lawyer the following morning to file for annulment. His bride later admitted she had had sexual intercourse before marriage.

    "He felt tricked," the groom’s lawyer, Xavier Labbée, a specialist in family law, told Le Parisien. "He couldn’t imagine building a lasting union based on a lie. The court understood."

    The tribunal based its decision on article 180 of the French civil code, which says: "If there was an error about the person, or about the essential qualities of the person, the other spouse may demand the annulment of the marriage."

  32. Yes I read that case too H94 – Sick isn’t it from all aspects. Was the groom a virgin one wonders? On reflection guys leave it to the big boys (governments, establishments, etc.) to try and sort the Olympics problem out…no tshirts, the muslims are an ugly bunch and they would not hesitate to attack anyone male or female who interfered with the way they run their countries. No Saudi woman would mourn for anyone killed or injured on their behalf. So I think Daphne is right … go fight for your own needy.

  33. That French divorce case is not a matter of surrendering to Muslim sensitivities but just upholding what is a French secular breach of contract.

  34. Right, Colm.

    To answer Daphne, and to (partly) agree with Patty. It’s not about Saudi so much as it is about us. This is from the Olympic Charter.

    4. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship,solidarity and fair play. The organisation,administration and management of sport must be controlled by independent sports organisations.
    5. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race,religion,politics,gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.
    6. Belonging to the Olympic Movement requires compliance with the Olympic Charter and recognition by the IOC.

    The question is not whether your actions will ‘work’ or what effect they will have. It’s not about whether the Saudis can be forced agree. The only question is whether YOU agree with those words or not and if you think they should mean what they say. If you do you should stand up and say so.

  35. Maggie,

    "There is a big factor which may prohibit western governments from protesting and we all know it’s name …oil!"

    Maybe so but here is what the EU had to say about it. You can be cynical about it but I feel quite proud to read that.

    In any case it’s just another reason among any to reduce dependence on oil.

  36. Thank you for that Mr O’Dwyer it made good reading and brightened up my day….so it has been noticed …great that’s a start.

    I totally agree about oil dependence and I hope I live to see the day we say F.O to all oil exporters!

  37. The last thing those marshmallow Saudi Sheiks want is little girls admiring strong athletic women, you’re right Mahons its all about control, being fit and exercising makes you feel more powerful.

    Hopefully this will brighten your day too Maggie
    man I can’t wait to meet someone named Maggie, just
    to sing this to them 🙂

    I know its off topic, but I couldn’t resist


  38. AC1

    For ten years here in the UK you could have stood outside Downing St and serenaded a certain lady with that song.

  39. Thank you AC1 – loved the song and the singer too…god was he ever that young! Glad you couldn’t resist …

  40. The hair and the outfit on the guy who introduces them!


    Blimey! or should I say Bloiieee-mey

    Colm: I was like two when Thatcher was in office, come to think of it, that would have been really adorable

  41. Muslim women need publicity.

    Before anything else.

    It is that which highlights what they are doing and shows support so their government cannot simply push them to one side. Publicity hurts people. Ask a film star.

    The point about the Olympics is that it will do exactly that. Its a showcase nothing more. But it has a valid reason behind it which adds more weight.

  42. Alison

    As Frank points out above, by letting the Saudis and other Muslim countries which ban women from participating in sport, into the Games , the Olymic authorities are clearly in breach of their own charter. The fact that they so obviously permit this shows that the Charter and ideals beihind the games are a con.

  43. Yup – but its still a giant publicity stage and an easy target for that very reason. That was my point abut the Olympics. Sorry if that wasn’t clear. I do think it is a worthwhile avenue. They need publicity. That in turn will give other women the courage to come forward and join them. That’s how it works.

  44. Alison

    I wonder if a legal challenge in the UK courts could force the Olymic committee to honour their charter and ban the offending countries from the 2012 London games. Would any judge dare risk the huge political storm that would cause ?

  45. Totally concur Colm…or you are absolutely right! It has always been a con. Athletes who run on drugs, or the host country, pushing it’s athletes to the limits in the preceeding fours years to make sure they are on the leader board…who gives a stuff.

  46. >>I wonder if a legal challenge in the UK courts could force the Olymic committee to honour their charter and ban the offending countries from the 2012 London games.<<

    Great idea, Colm. Even if it doesn’t succeed in getting the ban, any such legal challenge would be big international news immediately. It would turn this into an issue.

    Another idea would be to petition the European Parliament to reiterate its call for a ban on such countries for the 2012 Games (see Frank’s link).