Friday, January 23, 2015

Cartoonist unions and Saudi Arabian feminism

With Charlie Hebdo in the news as a stalwart of freedom, maybe it can be helpful to look at what cartoonists in the US had to suffer in the past. When "sneaky" cartoonists in Hollywood began to organize for fair pay and contracts, one thing management did to discourage this was talk about their workplace as a unique paradise. They were their buddies, not the no-good Commies who wanted to destroy the "family atmosphere" where they "felt themselves the aristocracy of their profession, with Uncle Walt the benevolent master over all." Any benefits required gratitude to the boss "for plowing profits back into upgrading the studio's working conditions and paying for drawing teachers" -- and if you didn't like it, he would snitch on you to the government, and the army too.

Feminism in Saudi Arabia, according to the leading activist Wajeha al-Huwaider is not making much headway for this same, simple propaganda tactic.

Many people are brainwashed to believe ours is a “special” society—that’s why we have laws that are un-Islamic but accepted, like preventing women from driving. However, thanks to the Internet, young women and men have a place to express themselves and develop their individuality. They’re more open-minded than their elders, and that will shape Saudi society in the future.

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