Saturday, 30 October 2010

Health and Beauty a.k.a. Gym


Glenn's attitude toward my Health and Beauty (a.k.a. Gym) membership was initially...how can I say this....somewhat negative.  He considers I have a huge tendency to be ‘a one hit wonder', erratic, a procrastinator and occasionally, ‘all over the place like a mad dogs turd’.  All I can say is, my good points must be really awesome for him to put up with character flaws as above.  Seriously though, I think he expected I’d have given up on attending the women's health center by now.  To date he's been impressed.  I go regularly.

The Health and Beauty (a.k.a. gym) center I go to is very nice.
It’s also quite expensive, but the benefits of going outweigh any issue hubby might have with cost. And he had a weeny issue when I missed out on the '3 months for the price of 2' deal. Why did I miss it? That procrastination I mentioned earlier.  I left my sign up a day or two too late.

I consider myself very lucky to have this facility nearby.

Just over a year ago, Saudi clerics decided women couldn’t have fitness centers. They used an administrative loophole to push through a number of closures. Apparently the government body responsible for men’s exercise facilities has not been allowed was not prepared to regulate those for women. This makes women’s exercise centers unlicensed and, therefore, illegal.

I can follow this reasoning – I can, as I’m sure many others can.  And I ask, what woman wants to work out in a possibly shoddy fitness center?  If the Powers That Be had left this reasonable rational to reign no-one would have had reason to ridicule their motives. Question them, yes, given the governments supposed concern with women’s increasing diabetes and associated poor health, but not ridicule them. 

But this is Saudi Arabia.

The scholars, who I’m sure were real chuffed about this little conquest, like spouting off sermonizing (is that a word?) to the masses whenever possible and they didn't fail to deliver for this issue.  I’ve listed a selection of their ridiculous, ludicrous stated reasons why they banned female work out sites; not referenced but a quick Google will find them easily enough.

… .Leading Saudi clerics have condemned the gyms and clubs as "shamelessness" and warned that women would be tempted to leave their homes and neglect their husbands and children.

…..sports may lead women to lose their characteristic shyness, become masculine, or even lust for one another. It’s a “slippery slope,” says one, that follows “in the footsteps of Western countries.” A sheikh adds, “Women need to have their dignity protected

……Sports such as football and basketball require a lot of movement which may cause young women to lose their virginity. – Sheikh Abdullah Al Manee, a member of the official Council of Senior Ulema

And this one from a booklet about physical education in schools

…..if girls' schools began P.E., Saudi girls would have to change into workout gear — and good girls should not disrobe outside their homes. Changing in a locker room might cause them to lose the shyness that is the hallmark of good morals, the booklet warned. It went on to say that the girls might become attracted to each other after seeing their classmates in tight leotards and tops...

So there you have it, Saudi scholarly logic.

All of it apparently based somewhere in the Quran but, take a look at this from an article on Women Living Under Islamic Laws

'…….. many doubt the religious basis for not allowing women to compete in athletics, pointing to the example of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). In one hadith (saying or tradition) narrated by Abu Dawood, the Prophet runs a race with his wife, Aisha, and lost. Some years later they had a rematch, and the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) won.'

If I were in a pessimistic mood, (Am I?  I could be!) I'd speculate that Saudi clerics have read this narrative and determined it to mean ‘women should be dissuaded from any form of exercise so that, in their latter years, they can’t show up men [their husbands] in a running race’.  Why else would they be so ardent in discouraging women from health advantageous activity?  Because they truly care for women????

That same interpretation could explain why men’s gyms are prolific - you find them everywhere. You can look into some of them from the street and watch men working out.  A mall down the road from us has a running track all around the inside of it to keep men fit - and race ready.

If scholars really cared for women, they would have positive, woman friendly spins on all there Quranic interpretations.  For example, where it states in that same holy book that men are the ‘maintainers of women’, they would include in it's meaning ‘ensure women stay in tip top physical condition so they can serve men and their families better’? That seems like a win-win interpretation to me.

To appease women, who were understandably upset at the closing of their facilities, officialdom advised that only those female wellness centers under the supervision of a government hospital or clinic were allowed…

Sounds reasonable. 
But, I understand the cost to use those facilities is prohibitive to most women and, I’m guessing the Powers That Be have made the rules and regs, for having a gym attached to said venue, very difficult.  I’m also guessing they monitor them very closely so that one step out of line will have them closed ASAP.

Here’s a question…My intellect tells me the government, after publishing appeasing decree, must have set up a crew within, or very close to, existing administrative body to regulate and monitor hospital associated women’s gyms, or else even those would be illegal.  Why would a government set out to deliberately bite itself in the butt by publicly decreeing something illegal?

And, my intellect is getting a workout here, but I do wonder why said crew can’t stretch themselves to preside over all other women’s gyms? 

But of course, this is Saudi Arabia.

You could start to think that the wacky religious leaders in Saudi (they aren't all wacky, there are actually some rather decent types around)  hate extremely dislike women. I prefer to think they (the wacky ones) are scared of us - they’re afraid of the power that, deep down, they know we have.

What is women’s response to scholars and officials who obviously like their women fat and unhealthy?  Protest?  Not in this country.   Find a way round it?  Yep.  Hence my regular attendance at my Health and Beauty (a.k.a Gym) spot.


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