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Representations of Saudi Male’s Guardianship System and Women’s Freedom to Travel in Western Newspapers: A Critical Discourse Analysis

Tariq Elyas, Abdulrahman Aljabri


There has been a tremendous interest in the Western media concerning the status of women in Saudi Arabia. The recent reform in women’s rights and guardianship system has Western media gone into motion frenzy. A few research has been done on the representation of Saudi women in Arabic newspapers, but there is a scarce of research in Western English newspapers to date. This article exercises a critical discourse analysis approach to investigate the language used in three famous Western newspapers to uncover the hidden ideologies behind the representation of Saudi women’s guardianship system. To this end, van Dijk’s (2004) analytical framework was employed to reveal the underlying ideologies of six reports by The Washington Post, The Guardian, and Toronto Star. The findings show that the three newspapers have expressed the notion of “otherness” in their descriptions of Saudi Arabia and Saudi women. Furthermore, the newspapers have shared the employment of consensus and negative other-presentation to portray Saudi women as being oppressed and subordinate.

Keywords: Critical discourse analysis, guardianship system, otherness, Saudi Arabia, Saudi women, van Dijk

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pp. 339–357