I don’t think of myself as culturally insensitive, but I guess I am. Today’s news reports that that three men from the United Arab Emirates were expelled from a festival in Saudi Arabia.
Apparently, the men shipped home were just too damned good-looking — positively Dionysian. Clerics deemed that these dudes were so sploosh-inducing there was a danger Saudi women “could fall in love with them.” The same reports mentions several grafs down that a woman from the UEA was also traveling with these guys, which isn’t allowed in Saudi Arabia. In that frame, this just could be a reprisal. But it seems like something else as well.
In my bubble of San Francisco, that sounded like an episode of Star Trek in which Kirk unknowingly is forced to survive on a ice planet populated entirely by graduates of Handsome Boy Modeling School. It also made feel like Saudi Arabia is stuck in the past, much to its own detriment.
Is there a room at King Fahd Airport where someone decides the ratio of pug fugly to askoutable men passing through Immigration? Maybe’s there dark room with a panel of women watching monitors through their hijabs, pressing red buttons when they see a man whose kiss could be on their lips when they turn our the light. I’m also curious who’s on the list, naturally.
Channing Tatum? Bradley Cooper? Going on principle, anyone who’d ever been named People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive is out, right? Maybe the people who run this kingdom and rely on fundamentalist clerics to ensure peace and order on the Arab Street will let this one fly. After all, it’s not as serious as as beheadings.
Look, I hate to be conspiracy guy here, but is it possible that we’ve all just bought into the narrative that our presidents hold hands with Saudi princes because there’s so much durn Texas Tea under their sand? (I guess I should stop calling it Texas Tea ‡, because I recently learned that also refers to a concoction of cough syrup and Sprite). But I digress.
The price of oil keeps going up and always will until we have we see dramatic cultural shifts in oil-producing nations, particularly the ones that rhyme with “Schmaudi Schrabia.” Or unless we start taking solar, wind and — ha, I was just kidding.
God knows, we haven’t cornered the market in the US dealing with racism, sexism. homophobia, but I believe rthat a little more exposure to Western culture couldn’t bad for a county that still literally treats women like minors.
We may turning the corner on marriage equality, but I’m not asking nations like Saudi Arabia and Iran to embrace that today. I’m just urging them to take a second look at how they’re perceived on the world stage. Someday, they won’t have all that oil, leverage, and they’ll have to start dealing with their citizens — and other countries on different terms.
(Sorry for the initial typos. This is what happens you try to write on public transportation.)