Campaign for breast cancer awareness in Saudi shows no women

At the start of October when it was discovered that Ikea had been airbrushing women out of their Saudi Arabia catalogues and it spawned a tumblr-joke site that replaced famous women with Ikea furniture some people thought this was A-OK. By some people I mean this anon commentator "chlitto".

since when is accounting for cultural differences discrimination?
when they'll start selling to martians should they have humans in the catalog? all white people in nigeria ads, all black in china?

Fair enough. The ethnic makeup of a country, and the habit of using big fat black markers to remove any trace of skin as shown here on a Katy Perry album cover*, clearly varies around the world. But it's still discrimination to exclude women from IKEA homes in Saudi as, they clearly have women in Saudi, or King Ibn Saud wouldn't have had 45 sons. Note that they never count the daughters.

This ad depicted above however, tops them all. It's October. It's breast cancer awareness month, and even in Saudi they're breaking the Kingdom’s traditional culture of "Don’t tell anyone" with awareness ads. That contain no women.

This isn't an easy topic in Saudi, where women are in many cases controlled by men as they have fewer legal rights overall in the country, and the culture itself is male-dominated to the extreme. That the poster becomes a mano-a-mano talk about letting your wive(s) check their breasts isn't at all surprising.

Dr. Samia Al-Amoudi, a gynecologist and former vice dean of the College of Medicine at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, was reportedly quoted as saying “In male-dominated societies like some areas in Saudi Arabia, women’s decisions are controlled sometimes by men, and men may be unaware of or may disapprove of screening.”
She added that Islamic guidance and health ministry rules do allow women to give consent to the surgery on their bodies, except in certain cases such as tubal ligation.

* as a side note, one of my Blondie albums looked like that. Shopping for music in Saudi broke a young art directors heart.

Update: some of the commercials from the campaign and more images can be found in this post on Osocio Can you raise breast cancer awareness without even showing women? #Pinkverts. They found the images at the Saudi Women to drive Facebook page where people (who clearly can't read arabic) are rather amused by the approach.

Adland® works best in Brave browser. Adland® is supported by your donations alone. You can help us out by donating via Paypal.
Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
Files must be less than 700 KB.
Allowed file types: jpg jpeg gif png wav avi mpeg mpg mov rm flv wmv 3gp mp4 m4v.
FarisJ's picture

The headline says "For you, precious" and these men are famous Saudi characters.
So it's basically like getting Obama, Tom Cruise, Sting saying "We support you". I don't really know what's wrong with that, or why the use of a woman in that ad is necessary. For a Saudi person, the idea is crystal clear.

No need to dramatise, get your facts straight next time :)

Dabitch's picture

هل يمكنني قراءة‎

So, these ads not containing any women is factually incorrect mate? Tell me more.

I appreciate that you're translating them Faris. It's just that they're still ads without women in them, very soon after the Ikea hubub.

FarisJ's picture

No it's absolutely correct, and I agree with you about the Ikea shenanigans (it was the franchisee's idea, by the way, not a certain law).
But what ticked me off is the way you presented the article. Yes, the info is correct, but that ad in particular doesn't have anything against women's rights. If anything, it supports them.

Jonnyr's picture

I'm chatting to Faris about this on Fcaebook. He's right in that you've found a link that doesn't exist between the two ads, so as an example of the under representation of women this campagin fails
I still think they'd be squeamish about showing women in this context though Faris, no? Isn't this ad just circumventing that inevitability?

kidsleepy's picture

It's a neat trick, supporting women's rights by not showing them.

Dabitch's picture

In fact, the ad has nothing at all to do with "women's rights". It's about breast cancer. That's all. It's a terrible disease, like any other cancer. And the approach - even with "we support you" - is exactly as I stated, women-free. And any illness that affects only women is "not an easy topic in Saudi" because of the Kingdom's traditional don't talk about it 'tude. If you have a problem with me presenting a woman-free breast cancer ad so soon after a woman free IKEA catalogue, you probably also have a problem with Swedish news SVT that found this remarkable enough to talk about on the news and several other news sources as well. The link that doesn't exist between the two ads is that the world at large seem to have only just now realized that women are excluded from a lot of visible things in Saudi. I already knew this having lived there for a while.

I think that they solved the squeamishness of showing women (even when talking about their anatomy) rather well, with the celeb-men stating support. I don't know if these men are admired by other men or not, but I'll assume that they are and other men want to aspire to be this cool. That's a smart way of getting the support to the women who need to get themselves to the doctor. In a country where they need their husbands approval to do so.

The largest awareness ribbon made out of humans with 3,952 women standing together was done by the very same org: Saudi Arabia’s Zahra. I'll also note that there's no audience to speak of in the stands. But it'll reach the Guinness book of records, so it'll be seen after the fact.