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Ageism shaping Saudi Media
After being denied a US visa renewal, Saudi performer in his mid-thirties leading a show in the US returned to Saudi Arabia, stating that: Since the Arab world has never had a sexual revolution, ageing will not impact his popularity as a musician. He cited iconic Arab musicians who were well into their 50s at the height of their popularity. His confidence in the Arab world’s forgivingness towards his ageing -as a male- struck a strong contrast to attitudes towards women’s ageing. As Saudi Arabia moves from a tribal, religious system into one that is modernized, breaking previously familial ties into capitalistic ones, perceptions of old age are changing. In the traditional system, older women were revered for fulfilling their maternal roles. Social media accounts of men may show pictures of a fully cloaked, but apparently senior women, with her son kissing her hand, accompanied by quotes revering her role as a pious mother. An older woman is referred to as “auntie”, placing her in the category of the mother. Though seemingly respected in such a society, she is also asexual, bodiless and undesirable. However, it is not uncommon to find that this very account systemically using ageism to deter female social media influencers from voicing their opinions. Upon stepping away from her designated maternal or so-called pious role, a woman is instantly cast as vile. Insults directed towards her undermine her sexual desirability. Ageism affects both genders, this paper explores various instances and contexts of ageism found in the use of popular media forms in Saudi Arabia.