A ‘Gender Backlash’ in the Midst of Globalization: The Dynamic of the “anti-Cedawīyāt” in Contemporary Saudi Arabia

By Namie Tsujigami.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper looks at the phenomenon of ‘gender backlash’ currently taking place in Saudi Arabia and investigates why some Saudis consistently oppose the notion of gender equality and other concepts developed together with the history of feminisms. It is especially noteworthy because it is happening where various efforts are made to increase awareness on gender equality and to fulfill the demand for gender mainstreaming globally. This paper seeks to map out the dynamic of this backlash in the context of globalization. Discourses objecting to gender equality are being produced in a contradictive way. On the one hand they defend women’s rights, yet on the other, they doubt and contest the righteousness of the notions of gender equality, gender empowerment, and consequently the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). This process of discourse production which revolves around de-“Westernization” includes speaking out for themselves and creating their own narratives to construct their own gendered power relations based on their own interpretations of Islam. Through discourse analysis and fieldwork research, this paper explores why and how it is happening in the midst of the era of globalization where vast amount of information is available via satellite television and the Internet.

Keywords: Gender, Saudi Arabia, Globalization, Anti-globalization, Identity, Counter-othering, Authenticity

Global Studies Journal, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.17-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.303MB).

Dr. Namie Tsujigami

Research Fellow (PD), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, Kobe University, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan

Dr. Namie Tsujigami is a Post Doctoral Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, who is affiliated to Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, Kobe University in Japan. Dr. Tsujigami’s research revolves around the gendered power relationship in Saudi Arabia. Her study is based on her own experience living and researching in Saudi Arabia for more than two years. Her doctoral thesis submitted to Kobe University in 2008 focused on exploring gender order via discourse analysis and firsthand research on Saudi male and female intellectuals, referring to the pervasive and non-unilateral characteristics of power suggested by Michel Foucault.

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