Olympian Star Glows On


This link works – press it 😉

I wrote the title of this entry in August. Sarah Attar was the first woman from Saudi Arabia to be permitted to run a race in the Olympics. She ran fully covered from head to foot, with only her face and hands on view unveiled.

She finished her 800 metre race almost a full lap behind her competitors yet crossed the line to a standing ovation and with a smile to light up the city of London.

For one brief moment we witnessed the beauty of humanity applauding effort over achievement, challenge over facility, obstacle over determination. In that act we simultaneously celebrated the true nature of all of these ‘normal’ values: it is through effort that we achieve, through challenge that we develop facilities and through determination that we overcome obstacles.

Sarah has already broken through astounding obstacles and challenges by arriving in England to run for her country. She may have been ‘slow’ for the Olympic Championship once she got here – but of course, even once here she was disabled by her difference of outfit as well as her disability of culture at home. I doubt she found herself well accompanied in Saudi Arabia to match the conditions she would discover in England with women world wide having already competed severally with their opponents.

It is a heroic story within the disability movement. Her disability has been cultural. She has now broken through a ceiling for her culture and we can’t do anything but smile with her – for no-one else in the championships went so far this year: In four years time we should see more women having trickled out of this opening.

Of course – there could be questions. For example – the entire obsession with competition, with establishing who runs fastest, who throws furthest, who is cleverest etc., etc., etc., – isn’t this an agenda set by men for men and infiltrated by women who can’t help feeling left out by the games men play?

This is a tough question for me. Mainly because I’m crap at competitive games. So, I stopped being interested in winning competitions shortly before I became able to think at all. I arrived in language freshly shorn of competitive ambitions.

Would that be my ‘femininity’ or simply my inclination to fail that pushed me in this way?

Competition is a difficult concept. It yields its greatest loading in politics as the arena of ‘possessive individualism’ (CB MCPherson, subtitle ‘from Hobbes to Locke’ if you’re interested); the American Dream, the shop-keeper’s daughter etc etc.

If ‘man’ stands for ‘competition’ – couldn’t ‘woman’ stand for ‘bonding’/’sharing’? Women could help men (and women who have moved to ‘male values’) to learn how to relax, how to share, how to feel safe, how to feel ok, how to feel that lovability doesn’t lie in trophies of competition – be it financial, status or penis length.

Yes, I know, how bloody radical am I??!!! 😉

But truth is – my joys come from a walk, a drink, an afternoon baking bread (not so different from clay work really), from helping a little friend with her homework, from making people laugh, from going to bed at night feeling that I’ve done one or two things to make one or two people happier.. How many trophies do I need for these achievements? And if I’ve eaten again today – does it matter?

I guess this must be why I’m not ‘rich and famous’ and why I’ve never run a race let alone win one.

I’m happy though.

Does that count at all?

I think Sarah Attar is happy too. Nothing I have said or suggested by way of reflection – detracts from her achievement. Far from it. In a land where women can wear what they like, work where they like and muscle up with the boys if that’s their wish – who on earth am I, or would I be, to oppose or question the right of the saudi arabian women to assert their existence as fully acknowledged and valued human citizens? In such a world women become the avant-garde sector pushing humanisation.

In England I believe that burden falls upon the shoulders of the ‘disability community’. There are a lot of us. If you begin to include the numbers disabled by culture and finance – it runs to many millions. Too many, by far, for David Cameron to hold back.

All it will take is a few determined people to emerge and this movement will transform this country for good.

I intuit the emergency as I write.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: