About two weeks ago, my bulging eyes nearly met my falling jaw when I came across a flood of tweets in my feed about the Saudi Industrial Property Authority, “MODON,” building an all-woman city to boost the country’s economy and productivity all while ensuring that no one gets a hickey from the opposite sex in the process. I’m not going to lie or even attempt to hide the fact that I was extremely excited at this prospect; the possibility for the emergence of a matriarchal society challenging Saudi gender mores seemed a little too awesome for me to even consider this as what others deemed another brick in the gender apartheid wall. And, as per usual when it comes to anything about Muslim women’s bodies in cruel, cruel Muslim countries, the media went into an uproar about this story.
Then, however, my dreams of matriarchal bliss and womanly fortitude were dashed by what turned out to be – su-freakidy-prise – extremely poor and sensationalist journalism. As Al-Arabiya, a Saudi-based publication, would point out within days (August 15th) of the story breaking and going viral: no one actually seemed to have read the press release being cited beyond the headline:
“The subhead of the press release, set in italics, reads: “Al-Ahsa 2nd Industrial City will create job opportunities for both men and women.”
Yes, both men and women.
The second paragraph clearly states that the city “is not intended for women only.”
MODON clarified the issue further on Tuesday.
“It’s a city like any other city, where men and women work. But special sections and production halls will be reserved for women within the factories,” the Authority told Al Arabiya English via Twitter.”
So, what the hell happened that seemingly led some of the top online media to rabidly become illiterate? [Read more...]