Saudi Arabian Protest Song Mixes Bob Marley With Feminism… Saudi Duppy Feminism?

Alaa Wardi is a Saudi national who is protesting the Saudi government’s ban on women driving cars through a parody of Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry.  If you haven’t heard, there have been big protests over this issue in Saudi Arabia recently (well, big for Saudi Arabian protests, at least), and the protesters have been using YouTube to spread their message.

I think Marley would have appreciated this.  There is an obscure branch of feminism called duppy feminism that is named for one of his songs.  Duppy feminism is about fighting the ghostly spectres of the Babylon patriarchy.  It seems like a Jamaican movement, but the movement seems very small because most of what is written on duppy feminism is behind academic paywalls.

Why did Alaa Wardi do this with no musical instruments?  This is purely an artistic choice in the West, and doing it with a split screen layout is a common way to go when it comes to YouTube music videos.  In Saudi Arabia, however, the choice to go acapella is an important political decision because music with instruments is banned in Saudi Arabia.  By going acapella, Wardi is engaging in carefully measured protest.  If they used musical instruments this video would have been instantly banned in Saudi Arabia and nobody who needs to hear it would have been able to hear it.

Saudi Arabia has a pretty harsh stance on music in general.  Women are not allowed in music shops and music is not taught in universities.

The reason these kinds of things happen is because Saudi Arabia doesn’t exactly have laws in the Western sense of the idea of ‘rules laid down by the government’.  They have the Quaran instead, and judges interpret the Quaran instead of laws.


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