Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Michelle Obama Gets Flack For Exposing Herself In Saudi Arabia

The Debrief: And the new king, Salman, refused to shake her hand!

Last week, we brought you all the news that our royal-affiliated buildings would be flying the flag at half-mast to commemorate the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, who basically imprisoned his daughters and ran a nation where women are effectively banned from public life.

And it looks like another little piece of fabric is causing uproar, this time over in the Middle Eastern state.

Michelle Obama had joined Barack in attending the funeral of Abdullah, but as well as the new monarch, King Salman, refusing to shake her hand, like she’s got girl-germs or something, some Saudis didn’t take kindly to Michelle not wearing a headscarf.

People watched her on TV (no, she wasn’t blurred out by TV stations, that was an amateur production passed off as real) then turned to Twitter to share their observations. Using the hashtag which translates as #MichelleObamaUnveiled or #MichelleObamaImmodest, a fair whack of the tweets were critical of her decision. Yep, her decision to not wear a veil over her hair, which may very well have been a weave anyway.

One person pointed out, reports The Washington Post, that Michelle had worn a headscarf when she went to Indonesia, which also has modesty laws, but not Saudi Arabia.

The difference? Maybe she just didn’t want to wear a veil this time round; it shouldn’t be any more complicated than that, should it?

At the very least, what Michelle has done, if it really is a political statement, will draw attention to what it’s like for women in Saudi Arabia who:

Aren’t allowed to leave the country without the permission of a man

Aren’t allowed to drive

Aren’t allowed to leave the house without a male chaperone

Aren’t allowed to vote in national elections

Aren’t allowed to enter a cemetery

Aren’t allowed to read an uncensored fashion magazine

Aren’t allowed to buy Barbies, or – get this – work in a lingerie shop.

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Tags: Sexism, Saudi Arabia