Saudi artist Rotana launches “F*D & Blessed”, confronting taboos with humour

By  | 

Rotana is not looking to do things like everybody else. Sometimes described as controversial, the Saudi performance artist, singer/songwriter, and TV personality made it her mission to shake up some dusty, engraved narratives. “F*D & Blessed” , a one-woman comedic talk show that rethinks Sex-Ed and “wellness” by tackling the “vulnerabilities and curiosities” that surround young women about their bodies is her newest project. Taboo subjects such as erotism and pleasure are confronted with humour in this show that is now live on the artist’s IGTV.
So how does an Arab girl go about talking about sex openly, without filters? JDEED spoke to Rotana to know more about “F*D & Blessed” and the road that led to the launch of the show.

Tell us a bit about you and your relationship to sex-ed? How did the idea of speaking up about sexuality come about in the first place?

My relationship to sex-ed was that I had no relationship to it at all. I was educated to believe that my body and sexuality as a woman were dangerous and to be suppressed, unless they were in service to a man or baring children. So I was a total alien to my body, my pleasure, my sexuality and my power.
Addressing these topics is something I have been doing one way or another through my art for years as a way to make sense of all the internal conflict and confusion I had been living with as an Arab, Muslim woman that loves her culture but also loves her primal nature and erotic aliveness. I was tired of feeling like the worst person in the world for loving my body and knowing how much power, beauty and inner knowing it holds.

Was there a lot of anxiety in the process, taking into account the “F*D” side of the education us Arabs are brought up with?

Of course! At times it was nothing but anxiety lol! I was literally battling against this voice (that is generations strong) telling me I was dirty and wrong and that the only reason I am interested in these things is to get attention or to seduce. I was terrified. But I did it anyways.

Do you believe the comedy aspect enables you to discuss topics and spread messages more easily?

Totally! And the comedy aspect was actually an accident. I never meant for this show to be funny. It became funny because I was so nervous and awkward making it. My director Clara started to make fun of me behind camera and encouraged me to just be as nervous and weird and anxious as I needed to be.  And that is how this comedy came to be!

There’s a lot of shaming happening in our culture on so many levels; the body and sexuality being main targets of judgment. How do you think Arab women can break free and live their sexuality the way they wish?

I think that journey is going to look completely different to everybody. For me, it really began with understanding (and remembering)  that my body and sexuality are literally gifts from God. I was born this way, so who on earth do you think you are shaming me out of what God created?
It was also understanding that in this world, the things that are the most repressed and shamed (sexuality and body empowerment) are often the things that hold the most power. When we are in the right relationship with our bodies and sexuality, we start to understand that inner knowing, freedom, pleasure and power are all things that come from inside of us, not  from outside systems. You cannot control people that know that. People that know this are dangerous to the systems that are currently in place.

What are your hopes for the talk-show and what do you really wish to bring to the audience that will be listening?

I hope this show speaks to Arab girls, queer Arabs and really ANYBODY who has felt alone, like they don’t belong, or has been at war with themselves. I hope this show lets you know you belong. Just the way you are.
I hope this show makes a small dent in the wall of secrecy and shame that we have around this beautiful gift of body and sexuality so that we can relate to one another and ourselves in a healthy and sacred way and reduce harm. I also just hope that people LOL and enjoy themselves watching this.

Watch “F*D & Blessed” on Rotana’s IGTV right here!