Conservative Saudi Twitterati is having field days ever since artist and provocateur Majed al-Esa released the video of his latest song. Titled “Hwages“, which literally means concerns, the song is a satirical take on the situation of women in Saudi Arabia.
The lyrics go like, “May men disappear in oblivion…they give us psychological illnesses“. Much more than the song itself, video caused more outrage due to its symbolism. The video starts with three women sitting in the back seat of a car, while a kid wearing the traditional Arab dress drives it – depicting the absurdity of the Saudi rules where it’s forbidden for the women to drive but even the young men and boys can. Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to do most of the things depicted in this video.
Much of the criticism directed against the video is regarding the “strong language” and symbolism used in the video. The critics say the song is sexist because the women are wishing all men to die and are blaming them for all of their problems. The conservative Saudis believe the video is disgusting because it “disrespects” the Arab women.
The video shows women in Burqa, skating, dancing, playing – literally having fun. While it takes a jibe at the oppressive Saudi family system where women always need to take the men’s permission to do everything, it also shows that they, despite living in those circumstances, want to enjoy and have fun.
In one scene, women are at a bowling alley and on the targets, faces of men are printed, which get hit by the ball and fall. In another scene, a podium on the stage says “house of men”, implying that it’s the men who rule over women and women don’t have any say. It also implies that men are the ones who are in real power and it’s the men who matter, not the women.
The highlight of the whole video is a card with Donald Trump’s face on it. It appears behind the podium where house of men is written. Trump’s face is in context of his several sexist statements, which include a leaked tape in which Trump boasts about “Grabbing women by the pussy“. It sends the American people a message about the type of future they should be expecting – the one that is no different from the people of Saudi Arabia.
Most of the critics fail to understand that the video is a satirical, not a serious take on the issue. This alone should enable them to see the video from an entirely different perspective. Surely, the lyrics and video are sexist when seen from a literal point of view. However, in this case, the women lament the restrictions they face in a hilarious manner, which should be totally fine.
Also, in a repressive society like that of Saudi Arabia, such a song video, in which women are doing everything they are told not to do, is brilliant visuals. It’s an important message and our hats must be taken off for the creator of this song to integrate everything so brilliantly in the song.