HomeNewsboxWomen Defy Saudi Restrictions in Video, Striking a Nerve

Women Defy Saudi Restrictions in Video, Striking a Nerve

Three women in black niqabs covering their hair and faces skateboard down a street, their scarves and colorful dresses flowing behind them. A catchy tune with provocative lyrics — “May all men sink into oblivion” and “If only God would rid us of men” — plays as the women alternately glide on in-line skates, cruise on scooters and parade down the street in vibrant outfits, all things taboo for women in Saudi Arabia.

The music video has rapidly spread across social media, viewed more than three million times since it was uploaded to YouTube two weeks ago, and it has prompted debate over the role of women in Saudi society.

ماجد العيسى – هواجيس | Majedalesa – Hwages Video by majedalesa | ماجد العيسى

In the video, directed by Majed al-Essa at 8ies Studios (pronounced 80s), a production company based in Riyadh, the women shoot baskets, wear neon-colored sneakers and dance with a swagger and confidence that seems to dismiss the men who look on, all while covered nearly from head to toe.

The two men in the video, dressed in traditional Saudi garb, stare down the women from behind the wheel of a car. They wag their fingers as the women cruise down the street.

Many social media posts that discussed the video applauded its message, including commentary from dozens of Saudi women who shared the video on Twitter.

Ameerah al-Taweel, who is the former wife of a Saudi prince and has long been an advocate for women’s rights, shared the clip with her 1.4 million followers.

The video, despite its fast beat and bright color palette, is anything but light, and it points a critical finger at the restrictions women face in Saudi Arabia. Activists in the country have long protested its patriarchal society that essentially prohibits women from traveling, marrying or attending college without permission from a male relative, who is called their guardian.

When The New York Times asked women in Saudi Arabia to tell us about their lives in such a private, patriarchal society, nearly 6,000 women responded, expressing their fears, frustrations and ambitions.

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