Under Fire: Al-Watan’s “For hire” T-shirt Article

Under Fire: Al-Watan’s “For hire” T-shirt Article August 22, 2011

When a Chinese company manufactured a line of women’s T-shirts with the words “For Hire” on them, Al-Watan published its disapproval at their availability in Riyadh stores.

For Hire

At first, Al-Watan’s comment was on point when they described the T-shirt as “One more way to disrespect women.” But then they featured opinions against the T-shirt:

“The truth this is very unfortunate,” Kattan, a Saudi citizen commented, “what is left is just adding the price on the T-shirt as well, where is the control from the authorities? These women probably don’t know what it means.”

Saad Osaimi attributed that to “The ignorance of some citizens in English, plus that the spread of these situations is because of the absence of the concerned authorities and the absence of censorship on the market.”

The more interesting point is the almost unquestionable assumption that most women buying this T-shirt won’t know what the words mean. Al-Watan’s male commenters must think the female consumers of Riyadh (where the shirt was stocked) must be very poor English students.

And why were only men asked for their opinion about a product for women? Who cares what men think about it? Unfortunately, Al-Watan didn’t think women’s opinions on a product for women were important. Perhaps the author thought women would be too ignorant to have any relevant or interesting opinions, much like the men interviewed for the story.

Also interesting is that no one actually discusses what about the T-shirt is offensive. Is the shirt “offensive to women” because it refers to prostitution or sex trafficking? Or is it controversial because it could refer to women’s employment in Saudi Arabia?

After proudly declaring that they contacted the authorities–and by that, they mean Department of Combating Commercial Fraud–Al-Watan again spreads panic by reminding every patriotic Saudi to take an action against these violations “against customs, traditions, and religion.”

It always comes down to this: society, normality, traditions, customs, religion and whether Earth is actually going around the sun is by all means directly proportional to what women wear! No one wonders who is buying these T-shirts and what their message actually means for women and children. No, it is the violations for traditions, customs, and religion!


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