Saudi girl's story exposes oppression of women


In the foreground of this outstanding movie, an ordinary girl from a middle-income family aspires to own a bicycle. In the background, woman's oppression wraps its constricting coils around all the characters like an unconquerable anaconda. Wadjda's mother desperately clings to a marriage that many American women wouldn't have on a gold platter. Her stern teachers betray the contradictions in their rigid religious forbiddings. The other girls studying the Qur'an with Wadjda are threatened and humiliated for the slightest infraction such as painting their toenails!

The film audience cringes as Wadjda's flowering pre-teen youth is hammered with humiliations and denials of even the slightest sign of human growth. Wadjda, supremely aware of her great crime (being a girl), has to figure out how to assert herself, support her mother and the other females, defy authority, and assert her right to be a deserving human being.

Everybody in the movie, and everything that happens, tells Wadjda to give up. Everything says that women's oppression can't be can't be overcome whether in the extreme Saudi Arabian form or in the everyday discrimination we see at home.

Women's oppression, we are told, will continue to one degree or another as long as we live in class societies. At the same time, victories are possible. And Wadjda may get her bicycle!


Directed by Haifaa Al Mansou

97 minutes

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  • Islam is inherently egalitarian but that is reality long deprived most Muslims. Paradoxically many immigrant Muslims tell me that the most liberal western nations have shown a more Islamic values than their own cultures. The key here is culture. What cultures currently exist in places where women are most oppressed? We can say that post colonial Muslim nations do not have the scholars that existed prior to the colonial period. Also the neo colonialism we have seen recently has done more to oppress women instead of liberating them. The CIA support of Wahhabi/Salafi operatives has made matters worse for all Muslims worldwide. Their scholars have also infiltrated many of best Islamic universities and humanitarian organizations. Fortunately many Muslim communities worldwide are resisting these extremist elements and strive to honor their women in the way Islam teaches.

    Posted by Ed Hodges, 11/14/2013 6:47pm (2 years ago)

  • Thank you for bringing this film to our attention. The story line reminds me of how the people of Afghanistan fought to defend their people's republic from the CIA sponsored Taliban fighters who sought to hurl them into darkness and ignorance. I clearly remember pictures of women in bright red nail polish clutching Kalishnakov rifles hoping to preserve our freedom. Sadly, the CIA and the forces of reaction won.

    Posted by joseph zimmerman, 10/09/2013 7:04am (2 years ago)

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