In July 2009, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC) aired via satellite an episode of the talkshow Bold Red Line titled “Sexual Pleasure,” in which a Saudi man bragged about his sexual exploits. A wave of protest broke out in Saudi Arabia clamoring for the punishment of the man who would heretofore be known as the “LBC sex braggart.” Saudi authorities brought suit against him and prosecuted two Saudi women who worked for LBC. Drawing on a rich corpus of primary, Arabic-language source—119 articles, most from Saudi newspapers—this article uses the Bold Red Line controversy and Lauren Berlant's work on the “intimate public sphere” to analyze the articulation of patriarchy and nationalism in Saudi public discourse. The controversy, we conclude, reflects how the redefinition of political-economic issues in moral terms depends on an intentional re-articulation of the private-public nexus.
Published in Volume 31, Issue 5, pages 380-394