Generational transgression

Generational transgression

Influenced by popular Western culture, many young men in the Kingdom today walk around with strange haircuts, jewelry and funky attire, Al-Riyadh newspaper reports.

The question is to what extent these new trends influence the way young men think and whether these very people will allow their own children, in the future, to follow in their footsteps.

Sociologist Dr. Ahmad Al-Saad said changes in social norms and traditions have a toll on the way young men behave in society. “Today, a large number of young men love to imitate Western movie stars, footballers and sports icons like wrestlers. They like to copy what they wear and their hairstyles,” he said.

“In the past, many people used to strongly disapprove of such behavior and practices. Today, some parents encourage their young sons to wear whatever they like and put on necklaces … Some young men put on short trousers and others wear ripped jeans in order to imitate Western icons,” he said, adding that some shave portions of their hair like punk rockers.

“These weird haircuts are a product of the Western culture and many young men in Saudi society are influenced by them,” he added.

Economic expert Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Saneeh feels sad and frustrated every time he sees young men wearing strange t-shirts and jeans and engaging in weird behavior. “Even young women wear abayas (black gowns) with colorful designs that contradict the essential basic purpose of wearing the abaya,” he said.

Al-Saneeh is of the view that these trends are dangerous on the long run and can negatively affect the norms of Saudi society. “Those young men and women think that wearing ripped jeans or colorful abayas makes others think that they are civilized and high-class. There is no doubt that watching certain Western movies can be partly to blame for the emergence of strange behavior and practices in society,” he said.

“Where are parents and why are they not doing their job of supervising their young children? What really drives me crazy is seeing parents walking with their sons who are wearing necklaces or ripped jeans as if it is normal. Our young men and women love to imitate Western trends when it comes to clothes,” he said.

Al-Saneeh called on parents to spend more time with their children and explain to them that such practices are wrong and should not be copied. He also called on the Ministry of Education to lay down strict rules on dress and conduct that would stop students wearing strange or colorful thobes from entering educational institutions.

“The media also has a key role to play in raising public awareness, especially that of the youth, about the importance of respecting our social norms and traditions as well as costumes,” he said.

Dr. Saud Al-Dhayan, a professor in social services at King Saud University, believes that many young men feel marginalized and are not being given enough attention by their families and society at large.

“As a result, they spend a lot of time on social media websites where they get to see and read about Western actors, players and icons. Our young men and women want to show off and attract other people’s attention as if he or she is telling them that ‘look we are here’,” he said.

“Banning these practices is not a good idea because it would make young men and women engage more with them … The best way is to conduct studies on family patterns in the Kingdom and try to target the affected segments and reinforce their identity so that they do not imitate the West,” he added.


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