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Penseive: Do something or Don’t: We’ve Got Options, People

October 4, 2012

a thing: IKEA’s Saudi Arabia catalogue.

“If Saudi men want to live in a World without Women, they can go F*** Themselves”. No doubt the male Saudi population is not laughing at writer Nick Gillespie’s title for his recent blog post, but this American feminist definitely was. Nick’s rant referred to a recent snafoo where it was discovered that an IKEA home furnishings ad was altered for it’s Saudi audience by removing the image of a mother in the ad, leaving only the father and two little boys in the picture. My question is this: what motivates Saudiya’s selections, because they are definitely choosy when it comes to certain social rules.

The IKEA ad, before and after. Sourced from the Boston Globe.

For example: movie theatres are forbidden, but satellite TV is not. Is the government afraid that seeing things on a big screen will convince the Saudi population to go nuts and try to start dancing/singing/driving/talking to the opposite sex? Furthermore, does this mean that they are going to start erasing women on television shows? Because that could make for some really interesting dialogue.

a place: Somalia

Somalia popped up in the news this past week for a good reason (for once in what is probably a very long time). The documentary ‘Half the Sky’ was shown on cable TV this week and it is a very-inspiring look at Edna Adan, a 74-year old Somali woman who was a UN Diplomat, among other esteemed roles, before selling most of her worldly possessions to build a hospital for women in the extremely impoverished Somaliland. Edna is truly a twenty-first century hero, and the mere fact that she was the first woman in her country to learn how to read (is this really true? Someone needs to fact-check this) perhaps astounded me more than anything else I’d read. Somalia also came up (positive again!) in my reading of Rock the Casbah, where Somalian-born rapper K’naan is mentioned. K’naan sang the ubiquitous chorus of “Wavin’ Flag,” which was basically FIFA’s anthem for the last World Cup. If you like rap, or want to hear music with a conscience, K’naan is definitely one to watch: although I’m not incredibly fond of his voice, his lyrics are, unlike American rappers, authentic: he’s not lying about seeig his friends die or holding a gun at the age of 10. With his blend of West and East Africa, K’naan shows that globalization ca be positive on culture.

a person: Honey Boo Boo.

Alana Thompson, of “Here Comes Little Honey Boo Boo” fame, will not change world politics. She will not influence the presidential debate, nor will she help achieve world peace nor probably even bring comfort into the homes of many (I can only wonder if there’s anybody-anybody-out there who watches the show who actually feels comforted by it). But this little roly-poly elementary-school-age pageant queen is nevertheless an important symbol. I say this because she is a symbol of all that is basically wrong in American culture, which reflects and is reflected in our economy, and politics, and foreign policy….following a self-described “redneck” family around who likes to shamelessly promote a six-year old for her “beauty” (what beauty, I ask, but that’s a different topic) is just crass, classless and wrong. This is American culture? Please, don’t ever let me leave New York.

an event: the First Presidential Debate of 2012

I will not discuss my opinion of the debate here. Why? Because I did not watch the presidential debate. Because I would probably just throw things at the TV screen. I will vote for Obama, but unlike the last time I voted for him, the reason this time around is simply because I don’t want the Other Guy-aka Mitt Romney-to win. Of course, my main problem is American politics themselves, not these two candidates who are the by-products of a government gone glaringly wrong. Why is politics all about lying and storytelling (or the trending word “myths?”) Why can’t our candidates focus on themselves and actual policy instead of bashing each other because they are on different parties? And why can’t the American people elect their own damn president?? (Although, if the amount of nonsense that I saw on Facebook post-debate is any indication at AMerica’s brainpower, then I guess it’s a good thing the general population doesn’t elect the president.

an idea: Occupy What you Hate!

France’s Le Monde summed it up best, commenting that, after all, it (Occupy Wall Street) was just a group of punks a chiens anarchistes et etudiants–punks and students–and therefore it’s not surprising that the movement lost steam, since these are people that don’t like organized institutions. Indeed, many of my blogs covered OWS and protesting in general, but the fervent Wall Streeters didn’t come out to camp in the warm summer months, and so all was quiet on the Street Front. Papers like Le Monde devoted time to analyzing the movement’s impact, since any Resurrection was hardly comment-worthy, and although some would argue that #OWS didn’t achieve its goals, I would add that achieving goals was hardly the point of the protest. Surely none of the protesters really believed that Wall STreet CEOs would step down or start handing out cash, but they wanted to get across the point that people were tired o corrupt governments and corporations and wanted to believe in the American Dream again. What #OWS achieved was making the word protest a part of MOdern AMerica’s lexicon: Americans learned that it was alright to protest and speak their mind. And although I find it ironic that protesters nowadays are often rich or comfortable (for example, the Hamptons residents who have been picketing East Hampton airport for its “noise,” which I find to be the rankings of people with nothing Better to do–don’t they realize that there a re a lot more serious things in the world?!) I do agree that they have the right to voice their opinion. Lets talk, people!

Links:

1. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/21/nyregion/midtown-rally-by-americans-for-prosperity-aims-at-occupy-wall-street.html

2. http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/tv/here-comes-honey-boo-boo/about-here-comes-honey-boo-boo.htm

3. http://reason.com/blog/2012/10/01/if-saudi-men-want-to-live-in-a-world-wit

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 4, 2012 8:47 PM

    Have you read the article “I pray my daughters have a life like mine” in the most recent Newsweek? It’s pretty horrifying. I can usually tolerate alternative (as in different to mine or different than the status quo) lifestyles and perspectives (I am very live and let live and like to think outside the box), but I can’t seem to accept that this way of life is healthy or empowering in any way. To me, it’s one of those unequivocal things: killing is wrong, hurting animals or the environment is wrong, and teaching women that they should serve men, cover every centimeter of their bodies and spend their lives shut up in their house without even internet access, in my opinion, is wrong. I guess it’s their prerogative, unless, of course, they’re brainwashed. Or maybe I am being narrow-minded — I just can’t help my visceral reaction to their utter lack of rights and freedom.

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