Wednesday, May 14, 2008

apparently it's KSA day today

An article from the Christian Science Monitor on the first women-only hotel in Saudi Arabia, located in Riyadh.

I find the "is this progress" question a little silly - are we going to reject something that makes it easier for women to do their jobs as the 'wrong' kind of progress? The problem is that women's lives are tightly controlled by gender segregation, both by the law and the societal prejudices that make them unwelcome in male dominated spheres, and any way that they can adapt to those conditions while maintaining their ability to advance their careers and act with agency is progress. Should their well-being be subordinated in the name of delayed gratification for observers who won't be happy until the Kingdom has a gender-neutral legal code and attitudes? Because it seems to me that's where the idea comes from - this isn't the way it's supposed to be, aka like our mythically secular and equal societies in the West, so it isn't progress.

And, as a side comment, I am fairly certain that, given the choice to stay in a women's-only luxury hotel where I was pampered, I might very well take it. This place looks sort of awesome. The hotel's Director, Lorraine Coutinho, considers this a selling point:

"The need for privacy within public spaces for women worldwide is increasing and we're just filling a demand that already exists," she says, noting that there are women-only hotels "all over the world, from Berlin to the US," a "pink beach" in Italy, a "ladies' special" train in India, and female-only compartments on Brazilian trains.

"Regardless of where we are in this world," she adds, "I think women are finding the need to have spaces that are dedicated to themselves."

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