by wjw on August 2, 2008

The Turkish soap opera Noor, with its independent-minded heroine and her romantic, supportive husband, is knocking the Arab world back on its heels.

For the first time, apparently, Arab women are getting an idea of what husbands are supposed to be like. (Passionate, engaged, loving, supportive . . . and, of course, drop-dead gorgeous.)

The series has not only made Saudi women aware of the failings of their partners, but the advantages engendered by a more liberal, tolerant Islamic society such as Turkey.

“It is eye opening for Saudi women. They haven’t seen such a sensitive, passionate, giving personality,” explained Dr. Fawzaya Abu Khalid, a writer and women’s activist based in Riyadh. For many women, the show has opened a whole new world and a lot of men aren’t happy about it.

“Men feel threatened. It is the first time women have a role model for male beauty and passion and can compare him with their husbands,” said Abu Khalid. “It is the first time they found out their husbands are not nice, that they are not being treated the way they should be, and that there is an option outside.”

The series bombed in its native Turkey, but once translated into Arabic and distributed through the Middle East, it started setting hearts afire. Husbands are divorcing their wives, naming Noor’s fictional husband as co-respondent.

Clerics are denouncing the program, but what can they really say? “Muhammad commands you to treat your wife like shit?” I don’t think so.

The last program I remember having this effect over there was Xena: Warrior Princess. All Cairo used to shut down on Friday night— not because it was the day of prayer, but because Xena was on the tube.

[thanks to Pat Cadigan for the link]

Nan Silvernail August 3, 2008 at 10:16 pm

How you gonna keep them down on the farm once they’ve seen Rudolph Valentino?

John Goodrich August 4, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Heh heh heh.

The subversive power of television.

Tommy Broughton August 5, 2008 at 11:45 pm

Ha, brilliant!

That really cheered me up and put a big smile on my face; thanks for posting about it!

halojones-fan August 11, 2008 at 4:36 am

Never underestimate the power of boobs. God made a mistake when he sent a son; if he’d sent a daughter, she’d still be around telling us what to do.

“Instead of a dark lord, you would have a queen! Not dark, but beautiful, and terrible as the dawn! Treacherous as the sea! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!"

(the movie version, but it's somewhat more direct than the book version. Plus which I can imagine Cate Blanchett yelling it at me. <3 )

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