He’s a private businessman, who happens to be from Saudi Arabia, a nation where women can’t drive, schoolgirls have burned to death for not wearing correct Islamic dress; female maids and domestic workers are routinely raped, beaten and abused; and women are stoned to death for adultery.
We must never let our outrage at the violations and indignities endured by Saudi women and girls abate.
Which is why the racist response to Jameel’s ethnic origin has been particularly painful to see.
As it became known that Jameel was a Saudi heartthrob, the backlash commenced.
But as Grenfell Tower has taught us, the Saudis don’t have a monopoly on social injustice.
Another troubling subtext to the Jameel backlash is the people tweeting that Rihanna shouldn’t date an Arab man because he’ll never marry an openly sexual woman like her.
So yeah I object to him and his fellow men.” Jameel is not a member of the Saudi royal family.
Saudi Arabian activist Manal al-Sharif’s biography, Daring to Drive highlights the fact that many Saudi men, like al-Sharif’s brother (who stood by her side throughout her imprisonment and campaigning) care about addressing the injustice within their society.
To describe all Saudi men as abusive is not just unfair; it also sets back the women’s rights cause in the nation.
If feminists care about advancing rights for women of all creeds and countries, then co-opting men into the movement is vital.
Saudi Arabian women—who live in a hierarchical, patriarchal society—will not achieve genuine emancipation unless Saudi men become their allies.