Oprah Winfrey Network

Tue, 2011-09-20 14:23Emma Pullman
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Saudi Arabia and Ethical Oil Group Go Head to Head Over Ads

The controversial Ethical Oil adswhich enjoyed an exclusive run on the Oprah Winfrey Network at the end of August, have earned a new enemy: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The tar sands industry ad campaign, which criticizes our reliance on oil imports from Saudi Arabia due to its poor human rights record, tells viewers that choosing between women’s rights and tar sands expansion is “a choice we must make”. 

The ads argue instead that intensifying tar sands production will actually help liberate women from oppressive petrocracies like Saudi Arabia. They also imply that we must support the controversial Keystone XL pipeline because it will decrease our reliance on “conflict oil”. 

According to the ads, “We bankrolled a state that doesn’t allow women to drive, doesn't allow them to leave their homes or work without their male guardian’s permission and a state where a woman’s testimony only accounts for half of a man’s”. 

A female voice pleads to the viewer, “Why are we paying their bills and funding their oppression?”

The ad has angered Saudi Arabia, who in response sent a cease and desist letter to Telecaster Services from the Television Bureau of Canada, demanding approval for the ads be withdrawn. 

Wed, 2011-09-07 07:15Emma Pullman
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Open Letter to Oprah Winfrey on 'Ethical Oil' Ads

Dear Oprah,

I just don't know where to begin. 

I can't find my words because I respect you so much. You're a woman pioneer who has done much to advance the status of women globally. You've donated millions of dollars to various organizations, and have used your talk show to raise the profile of women's issues. Your philanthropy has funded projects like The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, and Women for Women International. You've also used your celebrity to raise awareness of environmental causes, notably the efforts to rebuild the Gulf. 

That's why I'm so stumped right now by your choice to feature ads from EthicalOil.org on your television network. 

I'm all about the work that you do, but the logic of promoting tar sands oil by appealing to our desire for women's liberation, our desire to help protect women in despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia, is deeply flawed and misguided. 

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