Gender mixing at literary clubs

In the meetings of any literary club, cultural forum or scientific conference, the only issue that sparks a debate nowadays is mixing of male and female writers and cultural figures.





Shataiwi Al-Ghaithi

Okaz



In the meetings of any literary club, cultural forum or scientific conference, the only issue that sparks a debate nowadays is mixing of male and female writers and cultural figures. In fact, any serious literary or cultural activity like a discussion or review of a book, tends to deviate into marginal issues such as gender mixing and the like. Such events are often marred by silly discussions over non-entry for women writers or cultural figures to share the podium with their male counterparts. Such discussions are most often followed by setting up of partitions to obstruct the view of women or prevent gender mixing at the meeting venue, its corridors, at restaurants or any other public place.




This issue involves a great deal of controversy and has become a core problem even though it deserves the absolute minimal attention. The issue of gender mixing should not consume the time of any serious cultural or academic discussion. Giving more significance than is warranted to marginal issues will only produce negative effects, and thus divert attention from major issues. One thing to remember is that such gatherings are held to discuss cultural, literary, social and religious issues on the basis of academic merit without any discrimination or flare ups of ideological differences.



It is wrong to shift the focus of any discussion on a trivial topic such as whether or not women can share the podium with men. The quality and substance of the ideas and proposals mooted are important than the way it was presented. Of course, there has been a cultural bias against women and they still do not receive recognition in the cultural field. This is an important problem faced by women in the Kingdom. We are in this situation mostly because of the mentality of men, and this has caused a lot of social problems. There should be a serious attempt to find the roots of this problem and contain its growth so that controversies like the one on gender mixing cannot be allowed to develop or hijack the key cultural issues of contemporary Saudi society.