Due to personal and safety reasons, I postponed publishing the following thread of thoughts, which was written after the release of the MTV episode, True Life: Resist The Power. And of course after receiving tons of messages filled with concurrence or rejections.
By now, you have possibly built a specific imprint on who I am and who I am not. I might be the so-called “MTV girl”. But am I? I am Fatima, a 21-year-old Saudi citizen, studying Psychology in the city of Jeddah, passionate for taking part in the development of this beloved land. (I ask again.. Am I who I say I am? Who am I?)
On the 24th of May of year 2010, a trailer was out depicting the release of a 90-minute episode about Saudi youth on MTV channel, named: True Life: Resist The Power, which was filmed by a documentary production company based in New York, called Loki Films. Despite my agreement on their choice of name and selection of ingredients, it was on my part an initiative towards youths’ individuation, acknowledgment, and respect. However, I wonder if I actually became a victim of unsupported particulars or guilty for my youthful decision to speak publicly about my symbolic concerns, if not, the concerns of a few others.
As a psychologist would say: “How do you feel about this?” I have sensed that, contrary to those who related to the issues I tackled, others felt I had a hand in a movement that was betraying our traditions, threatening our development and damaging our international image, i.e. reputation. If this production made you feel so, I assure you that my participation was for the sake of us as a whole, and not inconsiderately my own. I am part of this society; I love Jeddah, The bride of The Red Sea and personally am devoted to its growth; mind, body and soul. I also believe if we all are, then any critique or constructive criticism we receive or affirm, through mentioning complexities or downfalls, under the objective of enriching our society, should be the symbol of true citizenship.
Throughout the episode, I recognized scenes, exhibiting an image of Saudi Arabia and particularly Jeddah as being desert like and military oriented. I ask myself, if I couldn’t see enough of the Red Sea in Jeddah, where else would I? Nonetheless, I understand that a single episode may be incapable of showing the entire picture of such a compound culture, starting from a range of social economical backgrounds and ending with the diverse progressive visions and approaches and from it’s modern shopping centers and restaurants to its traditional old designed streets and crowds.
Throughout the shooting days, approximately two year ago, I remember parts being filmed at my university’s library, in addition to a steamed discussion among Saudi teenagers debating various topics that only confirmed how varied, yet respectful our youthful generation is. The bulk of my participation goal was indeed fabricated due to editing reasons or other extraneous factors. However, I do assume these topics were to be tackled sooner or later by someone, if not me, then another, if not through this approach, then an alternative.
Believing that hiding or keeping our “dirty laundry” from others will actually keep us in the safe side might be the first stage where our opinions clash. The comfort zone is not my favorite spot. I don’t believe I should run away from my hometown to finally feel free and act like I’m at home. I want to feel home at home. If you are someone who chose to run away “in disguise”, then you might as well know why my reply to you was silence or simply “no comment”. I quote, “The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.” I end quote and say, this is a precise scenario of where our issue lays.
I agree that the colored abaya is neither an addition nor an innovative contribution to some. Although, it still belongs to a minority, if not the minority of the minority who approves of it as a type of change. This group creates a specific culture that can be referred to as the elitist or exclusivist or in some cases, the liberals (Free of personal opinion) stemming from one region in Saudi Arabia, Jeddah. My aspiration was to spread and not to gain, not through a profitable business or by a recognized title, rather through a wider and deeper social movement. Therefore, if you already are familiar with your options as a woman and are acting upon this acknowledgment, then the message was not targeting you, but your restrained neighbor.
Can a person effectively change without admitting areas of alteration? Can a community progress without having its own people identify aspects for development? Can a civilization develop without progressed communities that its own people contribute to its enhancement? Perhaps we don’t have the same goals. Perhaps my dream is idealistic and “out of the blue”. Perhaps you don’t share my dream and have your own. But perhaps nothing is impossible. And perhaps we do share common grounds that may after all bring together our miscellaneous ambitions. And no, I am not talking about a ludicrous outfit, rather the hypothesis that lies behind having an option. We’ve been taught in our science 101 course that black is the color most absorbing to heat, also having learned that women are most physically fragile and sensitive in comparison to men. Whether I agree or not with the latter being a fact, how do you imagine me growing up with the first scientific fact in mind, watching “superior and strong” men wear white, the color least absorbing to heat? This contradiction may be the origin that brings about further attributes, making our lifestyles unique and worth starring at. Women’s “choosing” for themselves the white color instead of obligating them (obligation: being the norm) to wear black in a summery afternoon is merely a metaphor that carries between its lines a more complex trend.
My choice of brining this issue on screen was misinterpreted by many supporters and detractors. Having the choice of wearing a colored abaya resembles not only the physical appearance of a woman, but also a noteworthy demonstration of a patriarchal society, if not, a patriarchal world. ???
Bicycle part… I’d rather you think it through, but nevertheless, it’d be on screen soon.. In a way or another 🙂
- Some of the news and comments published and received about the issue are worthy of an independent post, tackling dialogue mannerism, tolerance, acceptance and rigid thought, in addition to trust and truthfulness in telling our facts..
Some of the links published about the documentary: