Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
The New York Times’ two-part series on young love in Saudi Arabia (first from the view of boys, then girls) is a fascinating must-read — but two anecdotes in particular demand mention here. Apparently, many young Saudi women are subverting the strict limitations placed on them by cross-dressing to enter “male spaces” and, what’s more, having “passionate friendships, possibly even love affairs,” with other girls. It’s the religious police’s worst fears realized!
Atheer Jassem al-Othman, an 18-year-old law student, tells the Times’ Katherine Zoepf that two female classmates recently brought in photos of themselves disguised as boys. Zoepf writes:
In the pictures, the girls wore thobes, the ankle-length white garments traditionally worn by Saudi men, and had covered their hair with the male headdresses called shmaghs. One of the girls had used an eyeliner pencil to give herself a grayish, stubble-like mist along her jaw line.
The two girls even went into a store wearing their get-ups and pretended to check out a girl; their impression of leering young men was believable enough to cause the girl to press “her face into the corner of her hijab” in embarrassment. “It’s just a game,” says 18-year-old Sara al-Tukhaifi. But, apparently, it’s a fairly common game; girls will cross-dress with friends and then drive or go places reserved exclusively for men — for instance, the McDonald’s men-only counter — and pray that they manage to elude the religious police.
Somehow, I find it less surprising that — given the tremendous obstacles in courting the opposite sex — some young Saudi women turn to passionate, sometimes sexual, partnerships with other women while in college (at my all-girls college, such girls were called “LUGS,” lesbians until graduation). These same-sex relationships are viewed as a “game,” just like cross-dressing to enter the male sphere, and end as soon as one of the girls is married off.
Now, this report of Saudi girls’ stealth rebellion isn’t good news — ultimately, it is just a “game,” since they aren’t able to actually escape the constraints on their dress and behavior — but it’s the most heartening piece of women’s news to come out of the country in some time.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.