PRINCESS – A Shocking Expose of Misogyny Within Saudi Arabia

Princess was the first book that I’d read on the, shall we say, unusual treatment of women in Saudi Arabia. This led me to read other books on the subject which dealt with women’s precarious place in other Muslim countries as well.

Princess
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The story of Princess Sultana (a pseudonym) was written by Jean Sasson a twelve year resident of Saudi Arabia. It is the story of an anonymous Saudi Princess who grew up in a Saudi palace, her sisters, servants, friends and other unfortunate women she had heard about. Some have debated the veracity of the book but many things as I have outlined in my conclusion cannot be denied.

Princess Sultana was born into a Royal Saudi family of ten daughters and one pampered son. She was too feisty for her own good and managed to often manifest the displeasure of her father. Some of the things she did wrong were taking her toys back from her bratty, can do no wrong , brother and then trying to explain her side of things when she got in trouble, but as she and her sisters got older things became even more suppressive.

Supposedly an honor and a sign of adulthood, Sultana was forced to veil as punishment for standing up for herself a couple years before menses. She was saved from female circumcision, which her four oldest sisters endured when a foreign tutor intervened. Sultana goes on to describe how her favorite sister, Sara, was betrothed at sixteen to a man forty-six years older. Within five weeks Sara almost committed suicide due to her aged husbands sadistic and brutal sexual practices.

Sasson goes on to describe many practices and laws in Saudi Arabia that would make a westerner blanch, including the summary execution of a thirteen year old girl for fornication, who was most likely raped, a young girl drowned in the family swimming pool by her father for kissing a boy and girls who had been forced to marry as young as twelve, having four and five children before their eighteenth birthday.

Summary
Jean Sasson weaves a very interesting story. Her writing is easy to follow and extremely readable. The incidents she describe tend to stay in your mind for a long time and may cause indignation in the reader. She accomplishes a fairly good character development of Princess Sultana and other family members.

The book itself is 254 easy reading pages long and also contains four appendixes, The Koran and Women, The Laws of Saudi Arabia, a glossary on Arab terms and a Chronology of Key Events in Saudi History, all located in back. In addition there is a map of Saudi Arabia, the surrounding area, with facts on Saudi Arabia and the surrounding countries and a family tree of the House of Saud in the front of the book.

Conclusion

The conclusion I took from all the books I have read so far on the subject is, that while some, maybe even most, women in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries may be well treated, the underlying groundwork is there for the mistreatment, even killing of women.

It is hard not to notice than Muslims take exception to this and similar publications. They would like us to believe the conditions and incidents that take place in these books are fantasy and maybe they believe they are, but the undeniable facts that lie within, lend credibility to everything within the books.

I ask these people. Can women drive in Saudi Arabia? Are there modesty police? Can a woman get in trouble for not wearing a head covering, a veil, letting hair show, letting skin show? Has any women ever been executed for adultery? Have young women ever been killed by family members in honor killings? Can a Saudi man divorce his wife by saying I divorce you three times? Can a wife own property? Does a woman need three witnesses to report a rape? Can a Muslim man have multiple wives? Is a Saudi woman’s testimony worth only half of a man’s? Are many if not most of Saudi women’s husbands chosen by their father? Are Saudi women encouraged or even allowed to get an education? Can a Saudi women work in any field she chooses? Can a Saudi woman walk the streets unescorted? Can a Saudi woman date?

To be sure, women historically have had trouble in almost all societies but the second class citizenship that seems endemic in Saudi Arabia and several other Muslim countries is systemic and deeply rooted.

January 19, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . execution, Islam, misogyny, Overzealous, review, Saudi Arabia, Sharia, Sunni, Wahabism, women. 31 comments.

Too Much Clout for Iowa (and New Hampshire)! Too much Power for Evengelicals!

Am I mad. You bet I am. Every four years, two people get nominated to run for President of our fair country–all fifty states. Do I have any say in who gets nominated? Hell No! Do you have any say in who gets nominated? Not unless you live in Iowa or New Hampshire or possibly South Carolina. That’s right. The caucuses and primaries in two, sometimes three, rarely four under populated, relatively insignificant states, for better or worse (usually worse) always choose our candidates for president. The other ninety-seven percent of the population can go to hell.

Now, if you happen to live in one of the three or four deciding states, please don’t take what I say personal, you lucky dogs. I personally think the time for a national primary has arrived, but assuming things aren’t going to change, you people have an obligation to choose the best candidate for the rest of the country and frankly you haven’t. In hindsight one could argue that in 2000 and 2004 you gave us the worst candidate and Iowa, in 2008 you may have done it again. Mike (Huckster) Huckabee?

Ahhh. The Evangelicals. I’m about to ruffle some feathers here. It never ceases to amaze me how selfish this group can be. To the detriment of everything else their main concern always seems to be social issues. They got their man in 2000/2004 and look what it got us, two wars (one unprovoked and unwarranted), two trillion in additional debt, three, soon to be four dollar a gallon gas, disdain around the world, tax relief for the rich and an epidemic of corporate greed and fraud to name a few.

To the Evangelicals, think about it. Do social issues have anything to do with prosecuting a war, dealing with national emergencies, dealing with our former friends and enemies overseas, dealing with the energy crisis, curbing our national debt, providing affordable health care, or dealing with terrorists?

Mike (Huckster) Huckabee? The only candidate that has stated he believes in creation. Forget billions of years of sedimentary and fossil evidence. Forget Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons. For this man, the earth and life upon it began seven thousand years ago. (sometime after the first pyramid was built.)

Yes, Mike Huckabee is likable and charismatic, but I think we’ve learned that charisma doesn’t run a smooth government. The man was an apprentice to Jerry Falwell. He was a preacher for chrissake. Evangelicals, if you want to be taken seriously, go do some good in the world and stop trying to shove your religion down my throat.

January 4, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . candidate, ethics, Evangelicals, fairness, George W. Bush, lobbists, overated, Overzealous, politicians, politics, President, President Bush, primary, pro life, science, Terrorism. Leave a comment.

Iranian Justice (Based on Islamic law)

On August 8, 2004, Atefeh Rajabi, a sixteen year old girl, was executed in the Iranian city of Neka. Officially, her crime was ‘acts incompatible with chastity.’ Unofficially, it was because she was a free spirit in a dogmatic theocracy, doing what she wanted and thumbing her nose at authority in the form of the stupid Iranian laws

An example had to be made and made it was as the teenager, Atefeh Rajabi dangled from the end of a crane in a square for forty-five minutes.

The late not so great Ayatollah Khomeini, was quoted as saying “There is no fun in Islam.” Obviously this is true, unless you happen to be one one the misanthropes who run the misbegotten hunk of desert called Iran.

The following is a reprint of an article I came across on the internet.

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Siamack Baniameri
September 25, 2004
iranian.com

In the past twenty some years, I have seen them come and I’ve seen them go. Some live, some die, and some disappear. Some are executed, some are tortured, some are rotting in prisons, and some are rotting in hell or heaven — depends on who you talk to.

It doesn’t bother me none. They have chosen that path and they have bigger balls than you and I. They have been around for thousands of years and they’ll be around for thousands more: the rebels, revolutionaries, freedom fighters, activists, and whatnot.

But seeing her picture, hanging from a rope, broke my heart. I generally don’t give a shit, but this one, I couldn’t stomach. Dead, she looked more human than many of the living in this jungle of inhumanity.

Atefeh Rajabi was my kind of a girl: a hard-drinking, sex-loving, foul-mouthed, rebellious, defiant, seductive teenager who didn’t take shit from grownups and made no attempt to sugarcoat her demeanor the way Iranian women often do.

She was a type of a teenager who would look us straight in the eyes and tell us to go to hell. She didn’t put up with our rules and laws and traditions and social standards and religious beliefs or code of conduct. She didn’t buy any of our bullshit. She didn’t care anymore. She had enough of our crap.

Atefeh did what she liked and for that she stays on my cool-list. Atefeh’s defiance of all conceited Iranian social and cultural values is what makes her my number one girl.

Some of you are probably thinking that admiring a teenager who exhibited immoral and decadent behavior is inappropriate and sets a bad example. The only answer I have for you is what most likely Atefeh would’ve told you to fuck off. You created Atefeh and many like her. And you — that’s right, you — tie the rope around their necks every single day of their young lives.

Atefeh and many like her are byproducts of dysfunctional Iranian culture that push teenage girls underground in search of answers to some fundamental human questions and needs. A sick culture that is cherished by many of us because it feeds our egos and band-aids our defeats and deficiencies.

We have managed to deprive our teenage girls from every essence that makes them human. We have managed to take away their desires, curiosity, self-respect, wit, and the most basic instinct of every human: to seek happiness.

We get offended by Atefeh Rajabi and others like her because she challenges every fiber of our traditional pride and she questions everything that is sacred to us. Atefeh was poison to Iranian values and she needed to be silenced. And that’s exactly what we did.

While thousands of execution enthusiasts watched her little neck snap like a toothpick and her small body dangling from a rope for twenty minutes, not a single asshole said a damn thing to stop it. Boy, am I proud to be an Iranian.

I wish I knew her. Like her big brother, I can picture myself having a lively conversation with her over a shot of chilled vodka and maasto-khiaar. Would I have a drink with my teenage sister? Why the hell not!

I would’ve told her a dirty joke or two and I’m sure she would’ve matched with some of her own. I would have asked her if there was a guy in the ‘hood that she had her eyes on. I would’ve asked her who her favorite singer was or what kind of music she listened to. I would have thanked her for being who she was and kissed her small hands for no particular reason.

For many self-righteous Iranian folks who abandon Atefeh and many like her because she was a “whore” or “misfit,” take a good look at that small girl’s body hanging from a crane. This is your daughter.

October 18, 2007. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Atrocity, execution, hang, Iran, Islam, misogyny, murder, Overzealous, sex scene, Sharia, Teen, teenager, Terrorism, women. 3 comments.

Fallen – Get a Life Reviewers

Okay, It’s time to get silly again. This a review, more like an essay actually, I wrote four years ago of the very popular album Fallen (remember it?) by Evanescence in response to a very silly write off titled I Got So Mad I Got My Dad To Write A Letter Write Off
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Why would anyone write the 56th review of an album? Why even the tenth or fifth review of an album, especially one where the only really good song has been played on the radio continuously for three months? And why has Amy Lee on the cover of Fallen been staring at me from Epinions home page almost as long? Has everybody flipped out? What’s the fuss about? If you think 56 reviews is a lot Amazon.com has, as I write this 57th epinions review, not one hundred, not two hundred, not four hundred, not six hundred but SEVEN HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-EIGHT REVIEWS!!!! Just think if anyone is as gung ho as the idiot that wrote the 788th review they could spend a long weekend reading all 844 reviews, 845 if you count mine. Wouldn’t that be entertaining!!!!Think about all the man hours and emotion that went into all that work. If we could bottle all that energy we could be the most dynamic country in the world, but we’d need to bottle some common sense too!!!!!

I know why I’m writing the 57th review of Fallen. Someone has to look beyond the hype and look objectively at this album and what, I think, it represents. Ok, so let’s start with the album. I know, by now that some of you are really mad at me for bashing your current favorite album. I know you like it and that’s fine, 31 flavors and all that jazz, but hear me out. I bought Fallen too, so I guess you you could say I fell for Fallen also. That is til I got it home and played it a time or two. It was then that I realized that It didn’t hold a candle to music I already had. I was attracted to it because of it’s femme gothic-metal tendencies and I’ll grudgingly admit it is a good album but not great and certainly not deserving of all the acclaim it has received.

So tell us Red Rider, What do you have that’s so much better? I’m getting to that but first I want to tell a little story. Our esteemed colleague Vanwarp has a teenage daughter and son and they did a very interesting exercise, whereupon he and his children each burned a ten track CD rom of their chosen favorites for the other two family members to listen to and outlined the ten songs each that were chosen. I was surprised, no shocked, to see that all their tastes were somewhat compatible. Not so in my family. I too have a teenage son and daughter. My son thinks that anything that is played on the radio is craap, and my daughter thinks that if it hasn’t made the FM play lists it lacks credibility. That is the point I am trying to make. Most people in America think like my daughter. No radio, no credibility. I, on the other hand, have begun to think the opposite. Radio play is like a negative role model. Although a good song occasionally slips in on alternative or top 40 radio, I still think the best stuff isn’t being played but that may change thanks to the unabated popularity of Evanescence.

Hey man, what about the better stuff? I’m getting to that. Soon I promise. Ok now let’s talk about what Evanescence success represents. I am very happy that Fallen has been a blockbuster. I believe it provides a little crack in the wall of misconception surrounding the Femme Goth-metal sub genre. It provides some handholds for similarly inclined musicians to climb into the spotlight. The popularity of Fallen is going to create a demand for more Goth-metal music and where can it come from in the short term but the hot spot of the Goth-metal scene; Europe.

The better stuff man,
Ok, Waldo, now the good stuff. I can think of a dozen good Femme Fronted Gothic-Metal bands who, given the opportunity, could make great inroads here. I think Italian prog/gothic metal band Lacuna Coil has the best chance of making a breakthrough since they will be touring the country this summer and fall and their hit single “Heaven’s a Lie” is now getting air time on some radio stations. Another distinct possibility is Dutch Femme Fronted Goth-Metal band
Within Temptation, whose hit album Mother Earth has been having strong sales in the U.S. and whose phenomenal singer Sharon den Adel dwarfs Amy Lee.

In closing, to all those die hard fans of Evanescence, I have this to say; Don’t hate me I’m just expressing my opinion and GET A LIFE!!! There just might be something better around and oh yah, Norah Jones too while I’m at it!!!! I’d rather Be tongueing a Platypus!!!!!!

I will post links of the three Femme Gothic-Metal bands I’ve reviewed and a list of similar bands below.

Link for Polish Goth-Metal band Delight:
http://www.epinions.com/content_103143870084

Link for Dutch Goth-Metal band Within Temptation:
http://www.epinions.com/content_102189993604

Link for Italian Goth-Metal band Lacuna Coil:
http://www.epinions.com/content_98096942724

AUTHOR’S NOTE
I know it’s the usual procedure to write something about the music but since I wasn’t really writing about the music I have dispensed with this procedure. If this disappoints anyone, let me remind you. There are 56 other Epinions reviews available, which I’m sure actually cover the music.

Two week update It has been fourteen days since I posted this review and cooler heads seem to have prevailed at Epinions. There is only three new Evanescence reviews and they were all written by newbies. Amazon though is another matter. It seems the idiocy is running rampant. They are now up to 862 reviews an increase of 74 or 5.28 reviews per day.

One month update
It is now 34 days since this review was originally posted and Epinion reviews have picked up a bit with 7 new reviews in the twenty days since my last update, which brings the total to 66 and I see I received an off topic from one of the seven new review people. Probably felt silly after reading my review. Meanwhile Amazon is still chugging away with 927 reviews, opps, make that 928 reviews, err, I mean 929 reviews. Amazing, but they still have a long way to go to catch N Sync which has 1756, no it’s not a misprint, reviews.

Forty-seven day update
I don’t know when it happened but we’ve eclipsed the thousand mark. We are now at 1014 and counting.

I don’t know how many days update I know, it’s been a long time but I just had to do this update. Remember I joked about how Fallen had a long way to go to catch N’Sync with their 1756 reviews. Well as of 10/4/04 Fallen has 2138 reviews and counting! Think they could hit 5,000?

Just so you know Amazon.com now has 2.438 reviews on Fallen. I know because I just read every one of them!

September 5, 2007. CDs, fan, Goth, Iconic, Music, overated, Overzealous, review, reviews, rock concert. Leave a comment.