Saudi News Notes: Normal and True

Merry Christmas, y’all. I took the holiday off. And I meant to still be taking it. But then the news got the better of me, and I found myself at the mercy of a flowchart. Because, you see, this article appeared in today’s edition of the Saudi Gazette:

Saudi Gazette: I Want to Marry a Saudi ManAND IT GETS BETTER. There is no shortage of puzzling material and illogical constructions to be found in the local papers, but the “local viewpoint” section does tend to be a gold mine. Unsupported, blanket generalizations? Always. A leads to B which causes C which means 4,237 and a piece of string? Check. Racism, sexism, classism, nationalism, jingoism, tribalism, and -isms you haven’t thought of? Yes.

In this one, the best I can tease out is that the writer has a bone to pick with Saudi men, who, according to her, are better creatures for foreign women than they are for Saudis. But when she tries to close the loop as to why, and what it means, and what Saudi women want (which at first is not Saudi men, but then maybe it is?) the logic strands just get completely frayed out of control. I’m lazy and don’t want to use up all my column inches on a reprint, so I’ll send you here to read the whole thing yourself. You may want to keep the tab open.

It’s been a popular share on Facebook and Twitter today, and in the comments the words “confused” and “rambling” have come up a lot. Now, I’m a visual person, so when something doesn’t make sense, the first thing I want to do is make a picture out of it. Thus, my Christmas gift to you: “I Want to Marry a Saudi Man,” as a flowchart:

Saudi man flow chartI was in a hurry, so please forgive the crude construction. And yes, the chart is a bit busy. (So is the article.) But it DOES get us to a conclusion statement, which is nowhere to be found in the actual article and pops out crystal clear here. Are you seeing what I’m seeing? Just in case you didn’t, I added it as a helpful box at the bottom of the chart, and now to kick you in the face with it I’ll put it here, too:

Saudi women want Saudi men to have the strength and confidence to be what Saudi women don’t want them to be.

Which means…they’re just like everybody else. Admit it: We want what we don’t really want. Nice guys, have you been keeping count of how many times you’ve been thrown over for the rugged bad boy that treats her lousy and sails on to the next port without looking back? Good girls, do you have a tally of how many times the best-friend good guy gets swept away by the high-maintenance princess? How they both spend a lot of time complaining that there just “aren’t any good ones out there”? Vegetables, have you been weighing all the pounds of sugar I’ve been eating ahead of you the last couple of weeks?

True, when we’re in the throes of despair over the thing we didn’t want turning out to be something we didn’t want, we can be a tad illogical. And the degree of illogicality here makes me VERY curious about what prompted the article. A broken engagement? An affair? Betrayal or rejection? Jealousy? A prettier friend who made a better match? More underwear-sitting than she could stand, coupled with the knowledge that an underwear-sitter was what she’d set herself up for?

I feel for “the Saudi man.” I also feel for “the Saudi woman.” They’ve got the same problem as everybody else. The deep-down, heart-felt, emotional wiring that determines what they long for and idealize is caught in the norms of a society that doesn’t exist anymore. Meanwhile, they also want everything the modern world has to offer, but that’s only available for a price. Bummer. Show me a society that doesn’t have the same problem.

It took a lot of work, dissecting this article to get to truisms that most folks should know pretty well by now. “We never want what’s good for us.” “We only want what we can’t have.” “Don’t press the Send button when you’re still mad.” So I guess there really is nothing new under the sun. But there ARE new ways to say it, and I am just ever so grateful to find somebody who did.

6 thoughts on “Saudi News Notes: Normal and True

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