The Arab Web has been abuzz by a story out of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia that has caught my attention. Generally being referred to as “The Makeup Wars,” the posted video is taken by a woman who was apparently harassed by religious police at a Riyadh mall because she was wearing lipstick and nail polish. I was extremely impressed by the way the young woman stood up for herself, despite being insolently told to leave the mall several times. She consistently reiterated her right to wear make-up and to walk freely around the mall, also stating that religious police, under Saudi law, were only permitted to offer women advice on their appearance, and were not allowed to harass them based on their attire. Some individuals have expressed disdain over the posting of the video, but I think it gives the global population a rare glimpse of some gender issues within Saudi Arabia. More importantly though, I believe that the video dismisses the stereotype that all Saudi Arabian women are voiceless, and that progress on gender issues, particularly within Saudi Arabia, seems to be imminent.
Here’s a link to the story and video.