Tag Archives: women’s rights

Pious pretext, prurient interests? Selling lingerie in Saudi Arabia

Pious: adj. marked by or showing reverence for deity and devotion to divine worship; marked by conspicuous religiosity

Pretext: n. an appearance assumed in order to cloak the real intention or state of affairs

Prurient: adj. marked by or arousing an immoderate or unwholesome interest or desire


In Saudi Arabia women the religious police,  formally known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice make sure that women are covered from head to toe in robes and veils, sit in a separate room from the men at the mosque, and otherwise keep themselves away from men’s prying eyes.

OK. I keep my lip zipped on what I think about this situation. But here’s the absurd thing: most retail stores in Saudi Arabia are staffed solely by men. Including women’s lingerie stores.

Imagine being one of these super-cloistered cloistered woman, having a strange man measuring your bust, discussing uplift or separation or your cleavage. Helping you choose lacy bikini panties. (Saudi women wear them too…).

And putting myself in the salesman’s shoes – it would be torment – like touching the devil. Tzzzt!!

One brave woman is fighting against this, setting up a Facebook page to rally others, suggesting that women boycott these stores till things change.  You go girl!

Poison Pill for Planned Parenthood from the Bush administration

The Bush administration has it out for women (and the environment and the poor and our civil rights and our servicemen and and and and…). Their latest attack on the rights of women to have access to reproductive health care just came down (from the Washington Post):

The Bush administration yesterday announced plans to implement a controversial regulation designed to protect doctors, nurses and other health-care workers who object to abortion from being forced to deliver services that violate their personal beliefs.

The rule empowers federal health officials to pull funding from more than 584,000 hospitals, clinics, health plans, doctors’ offices and other entities if they do not accommodate employees who refuse to participate in care they find objectionable on personal, moral or religious grounds.

“People should not be forced to say or do things they believe are morally wrong,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “Health-care workers should not be forced to provide services that violate their own conscience.”

The proposed regulation, which could go into effect after a 30-day comment period*, was welcomed by conservative groups, abortion opponents and others as necessary to safeguard workers from being fired, disciplined or penalized in other ways. Women’s health advocates, family planning advocates, abortion rights activists and others, however, condemned the regulation, saying it could create sweeping obstacles to a variety of health services, including abortion, family planning, end-of-life care and possibly a wide range of scientific research.

What this means – if the public doesn’t make a big enough fuss – is that pharmacists, doctors, nurses and others don’t have to provide birth control pills, Plan B emergency contraception and other forms of contraception if they think it’s wrong, and explicitly allows workers to withhold information about such services and refuse to refer patients elsewhere.

Planned Parenthood is fighting this ruling and urges people to contact their congressperson, the Dept of HHS, newspapers, etc.  And of course Planned Parenthood will accept your contributions to their action fund so they can fight it.

I can imagine a time when a vegetarian grocery checker will refuse to check you out if there’s meat in your cart, a teacher will refuse to teach your child because he’s Muslim, a fundamentalist waiter will refuse to serve a couple because they’re gay…   What is WITH these people????

*The 30-day comment period means YOU – speak up!  Here’s the Dept of Health and Human Services comment site.  (No matter that it appears the comments are about the website; this is where you comment).