The Women of Indonesia’s Film Religi: Part II

Yesterday, we examined “the convert” and “the reformer,” two types of female characters in film religi. Today, we’ll examine three more:The idealWho: Aisha, the niqabi with beautiful eyes in Ayat-ayat cinta (2008) and Anna Althafunnisa, the studious Al-Azhar graduate in Ketika cinta bertasbih (When love is an act of devotion, 2009).In most romantic dramas, we have the impossibly perfect female lead, which I will designate as “the ideal.” She is fresh in her twenties, conventionally beau … [Read more...]

The Women of Indonesia’s Film Religi: Part I

Film religi is an Indonesian cultural phenomenon quite unlike any other in Southeast Asia. It is a film genre that is focused on religion (mainly Islam) and its attendant hot issues like polygamy, deviant prophets, interfaith relations, and global 'terrorism'. Riding on the popularity of the hugely successful Ayat-ayat Cinta (Verses of Love, 2008), a string of copycats followed. Mainly love stories, these films work on variations of the single, but winning formula: boy meets girl, a conflict … [Read more...]

Ufone Commercials: the Positives and Negatives

While wasting time on YouTube, I recently came across a series of Pakistani commercials for the phone service Ufone. I tend to roll my eyes at the attempts of companies to get people’s money, but with Pakistani commercials it’s different.  Watching Pakistani commercials remind me of the winter evenings I’ve spent in Pakistan, cuddled under the warm comforter with my aunts and cousins watching Pakistani or Indian dramas interspersed with wholesome, lively Pakistani commercials.As I watched one c … [Read more...]

Rowdy Saudis: MTV’s “Resist the Power: Saudi Arabia”

As part of the True Life series, MTV recently aired an episode titled, “Resist the Power! Saudi Arabia,” in which the lives of several young Saudis were filmed. The show documents a handful of struggles experienced by Saudi Arabia’s large youth population. Among them, the show follows a young man named Ahmad in his fight to provide women a voice within Jeddah’s City Council and Fatima, a 20-year-old psychology student (pictured below), who is pioneering a colorful abaya line that will challenge t … [Read more...]

Friday Links — June 4, 2010

A Belgian court rules a company can fire woman for wearing headscarf.Bahrain hosts the region's first sex shop.The Star profiles Huwaida Osman as she works to bridge gaps between Somali and Canadian societies.Arab News reports that Saudi society is to the blame for the country's high female unemployment.Five female news presenters at the Al-Jazeera satellite television channel have resigned over conflicts with management. More from the Telegraph,The BBC researches the abuse … [Read more...]

Power Laced with Femininity: Stereotypes and Female Bodybuilders

Becca Swanson, bodybuilder, power-lifter, and pro-wrestler (who has been called "The Strongest Woman on the Planet") writes on her site that she has "a burning desire to show the world my powerful physique laced with beauty and femininity." This self-consciously anti-oxymoronic statement reflects the fact that female bodybuilders have often been subject to the most extreme form of antipathy against athletic women, as a result of the stereotype which labels physically powerful women as … [Read more...]

The Lobby for Abu Dhabi — An Essay by Carrie Bradshaw

Recently, Ms. Bradshaw traveled to the Emirates for a glamorous vacation with a few pals. Here, she recounts her thoughts about her time in Abu Dhabi.As I sit here in my sparkling new genie shoes, I am in a post-vacation glow. It was easy to become overwhelmed with the glittering luxury of our suite in Abu Dhabi, the cocktails, and the shopping. Upon returning from my trip, I could not help but be overwhelmed with a bit of patriotism. I have always been the greatest fan of this tiny island of … [Read more...]


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