Pushing normal

Saudi women are quietly resisting conservative social codes

"Loud Art" is a place for young Saudi men and women to mingle as well as appreciate art. (Instagram/Loud Art)

Saudi Arabian women are “pushing normal” in a variety of domains, achieving highly in the workplace, defying conservative social codes by walking unescorted by men in the street, and sponsoring and producing controversial art. “It’s a cultural clash that our generation is experiencing,” says Raneen Farid Bukhari, 28, co-founder of “LoudArt,” a yearly art show in Jeddah aimed at promoting young artists. “With social media, and with TV and with movies, the more and more you watch, the more you’re like, ‘Why isn’t my life that way, it’s freer, you know.'”

Bukhari’s art show “pushes normal,” providing both a place for young Saudi men and women to mingle as well as appreciate art, such as a fully-veiled woman hugging a giant box of McDonald’s fries, that challenges social norms. Three teenage girls spotted walking down a shopping strip popular with young Saudi men admit that their parents wouldn’t approve if they knew they were walking outside unescorted. “But if we listen to them, stay home, and not enjoy our lives, it’s going to be like this forever,” says Sadeem, age 17. By “pushing normal,” Saudi Arabia’s women are slowly enacting change.

View Loud Art’s Instagram and read the full story at NPR.

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