Skateboarding Saudi Women Fight Sexism in This Viral Video
A music video featuring Saudi women dancing, skateboarding and playing basketball has gone viral for its political message on women's rights.
This YouTube video featuring several Saudi Arabian women defying tradition as they skateboard, play basketball and drive bumper cars has gone viral, racking up nearly 3 million views in less than two weeks.
"Hwages," which roughly translates to "concerns," has caused quite a controversy for its clear political message. The women in the video wear full traditional niqabs, but underneath they don colorful dresses and trendy sneakers while they play sports, something that's untraditional for many Saudi women.
One of the most notable political messages in the video is at the very beginning when all the women pile into a car driven by a very young boy. The scene appears to mock the fact that women are not allowed to drive cars or obtain driver's licenses in Saudi Arabia.
The upbeat tempo of the video's song is catchy, but the lyrics present a more somber message. The song is actually based on an old folk song featuring lyrics like "may all men sink into oblivion."
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Another video of Saudi women dancing to the same song went viral in 2014, but this most recent iteration takes a more political tone by poking fun at "disapproving" Saudi men, and featuring a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump as the leader of the "House of Men."
Over the past few years, women's rights have slowly progressed in Saudi Arabia. In 2011, women were granted the right to vote, in 2013 they were given the right to ride a bicycle and motorcycle in recreational areas, and in 2015, the country elected women into municipal government for the first time.
Yet despite these advances, Saudi Arabian society is still repressive towards women in many ways. Women are essentially second-class citizens, treated the same as minors under a system that gives male family members - husbands, fathers, brothers and even sons - power and guardianship over them.
"Hwages" has been praised by many on Twitter as an important step towards combatting that system. The video even received a positive review by one of Saudi Arabia's oldest newspapers, Al-Bilad, noting that it expresses women's rights in an innovative way.