Saudi Arabia: How Should a Saudi Woman Demand HER Rights?

The carefully orchestrated plan for Saudi women to begin driving on 17 June has hit a road block with the arrest and detention of its organizer, Manal Al-Sherif on 22 May.  It is now uncertain whether Saudi women will actually take to the roadways as planned.  For someone not familiar with Saudi Arabia it is likely mind-reeling to learn that women, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, race or religion, are prohibited from driving.  Saudi Arabia is the only country which legally prohibits women from driving.

Yet when King Abdullah was asked during one of his first television interviews when he became King in 2005, his response was “I believe strongly in the rights of women… I believe the day will come when women drive.”  Even King Abdullah cited how women presently drive in rural areas and the desert.

Tariq Al-Meeana wrote an insightful article in Gulf News in which he explains why women do not drive in Saudi Arabia.  He cites the reason women have not been able to drive in Saudi Arabia is due to the views and influence of Islamic scholars in the Kingdom who are opposed to allow women to drive.  These scholars have influenced their followers that it would be wrong for women to drive. There seems to an underlying fear that if women were to drive in Saudi Arabia it would result in a degradation of the country and its culture.

Tariq’s suggestion is to begin introducing the concept of women driving in baby steps such as opening up driving schools for women and employing women in the traffic department of towns around the Kingdom.

In actuality the issue here is more than women driving.  It is women wanting the natural rights of Muslim women around the world.  There is no law or surah or hadith which prohibits Muslim women from driving.

In today’s society in Saudi Arabia it is more practical for a woman to be able to drive. If a poll were taken most women in the Kingdom do not have drivers and either rely on their male relatives or public transport such as taxis to convey them where they need to go.  Women who do have drivers are being driven all around the Kingdom oftentimes alone with the unrelated male at the wheel.  Why do the Islamic scholars accept that it is okay for a woman to be in a car with an unrelated driver yet are opposed for a woman to drive?  I don’t understand or see any logic in this.

So now we wonder whether women will take to the roadways on 17 June.  Would women from around the Kingdom who dare to go behind the wheel on 17 June be rounded up and jailed like Manal Al-Sherif?  Would they be coerced to sign a statement agreeing that their actions were wrong and they had been led astray?  Or will women with strength in numbers AND support of their families make themselves additional trailblazers in Saudi history for reform of women’s rights?

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55 Responses

  1. I will be crossing my fingers and toes and anything else I can cross on the 17th June – that it happens; that it goes well; that the prohibition is lifted.

  2. The definition of insanity is “doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.”

    This experiment has been done, years ago. It was repeated by one woman on 22 May with the same results.

    What has changed so that women can expect different results? Oh, we’ve heard a bit more lip service about the rights of Muslim women, but have the men in the Kingdom invited women to share the roads with them? Has some law been passed to protect those who do?

    When have women been able to seize their rights in Saudi Arabia without the express support and protection of men? Does anyone think it will happen simply because some women decide to repeat the driving experiment?

  3. ‘Does anyone think it will happen simply because some women decide to repeat the driving experiment?’

    Of course it won’t. It will happen when they ALL decide to repeat the driving experiment and never stop repeating it. Nothing is ever accomplished without solidarity and perseverance.

  4. Driving Is Not The Issue

    The arrest and Saudi style interrogation of a Saudi woman Manal Al-Shareef, an inexperienced advocate for Saudi women’s rights to be permitted to drive so they can take their children to school and save their lives in emergency situations, is not the reason for the Saudi authorities’ arbitrary invasion of her house and snatching her while sleeping with her child at 3 AM on May 22, 2011.

    The Saudi regime’s daunting fear is deeper than women getting behind the wheel. The theocratic/ autocratic ruling Saudi men are scared that their captive population, both men and women, might break away from the grinding fears through which the regime has been able to crush people’s aspirations, treat them as less than human beings and to control every aspect of people’s lives and livelihoods for decades since the founding of the state in 1932 and historically for centuries before that.

    Like many human rights advocates before her, Ms. Al-Shareef will be severely physically abused and humiliated at the hands of the Saudi Interior Ministry’s hired mercenaries while in prison. This is done not only to silence her but to send a message to anyone who dares question the Saudi regime’s absolute rule.

    Like her predecessors, she will come out of prison apologizing for crimes she never committed and praising the system for its wisdom and just governing practice. Welcome to Saudi Arabia in the twenty-first century.

  5. Lynn, solidarity and perseverence are indeed crucial to the success of any population’s campaign to sieze rights from oppressive regimes. ALL women will not have the courage or even the desire to drive; I daresay only a minority have those qualities even now.

    Women in Saudi Arabia will drive only when men want them to drive. Perhaps women need to work on their menfolk to convince them before taking to the streets again like footsoldiers on the front lines.

  6. ‘ALL women will not have the courage or even the desire to drive; I daresay only a minority have those qualities even now.’

    ALL women don’t have to want to drive, all they have to do is support the rights of those who DO!

    I think that the women of Saudi Arabia will drive when THEY want to and when they can convince people to be brave and stand up for their rights. Some menfolk ARE convinced and they ARE behind their women, or should I say in the passenger seat?

  7. Ali, I understand your assertion that underlying the issue of driving is the more threatening issue of women becoming their own agents, able to move around and conduct their lives freely. After that happens, there’s no end in what could develop.

    Therefore, rather than focus upon driving, perhaps women (and men) need to focus upon the root causes of oppression. Let’s not forget that men, too, are oppressed under the responsibility of having to cart their women folk all over the place for work, school, shopping, etc. or else hire drivers, who can be a nuisance and an expense.

    Apart from the larger picture, you must consider that the act of driving itself really does pose a threat and a problem for women, given the current social/political/religious atmosphere in the Kingdom.

    I needn’t elaborate. All you have to do is imagine the chaos and even danger that could envelop a woman who, for instance, had a car malfuntion, or who made a driving mistake and collided with another car or telephone pole. What about catching the eye of another driver when she must make a change in direction? What about catching the eye of another driver by mistake?

    These are real issues that make the act of driving dangerous for women, given that men are not prepared to accept them as co-equals behind the wheel.

    The best way for women in Saudi Arabia to get more rights is to work through their men.

  8. Lynn, do you think the quantity of women in Saudi Arabia will ever achieve the critical mass necessary to achieve the right to drive?

    If so, do you think women will drive even if men do not want them to drive?

  9. ‘What about catching the eye of another driver when she must make a change in direction? What about catching the eye of another driver by mistake?’

    Are you freaking kidding? How about make it mandatory to wear dark sunglasses while driving?! Problem solved! And is there a Saudi woman that does not have a cell phone with which to call for help in the case of any problems? You will be surprised how fast those men who no longer have to spend time and money getting their women places will hop on board and accept them as co-equals, period.

  10. How much is ‘critical mass’? But yes, I believe!

  11. Face-covering can be put in the same category with driving. Most of us have had the experience of getting on a plane in Saudi Arabia with the female passengers covered, only to land in a Western country with.the female passengers uncovered. Many of these women drive, too, and their men support them, but only while they are in the West.

    Here is where solidarity counts– solidarity not between women and women but between women and men. I can’t see how women will successfully buck the system without major efforts from men to help them.

    If women can’t even uncover their faces in the Kingdom, how can they expect to drive?

  12. Dark glasses will only conceal the eyes and discourage glances. They will not cover red lips and white teeth and spontaneous smiles, let alone a tongue that slides over one of those lips. So now, where are we, back to the full face veil?

    This is my point. The social atmosphere is not ready for women drivers, and Saudi Arabia is not a country like America, where women can muscle their way into traditional male activities.

  13. Women CAN and DO uncover their faces there. Some even don’t cover their heads. But big deal even if they did cover their faces as long as they can still see properly.

  14. ‘Dark glasses will only conceal the eyes and discourage glances.’

    I’m sorry that you didn’t catch the sarcasm in my comment. I trust that the men will have to just grow up! They somehow manage to contain themselves when they live in places where their behaviors are not accepted so it would be great if they just gave their own people the same respect they give outsiders.

  15. Lynn… Oops! I am famous for my density re: sarcasm, especially sarcasm of the written word.

    “…if they just gave their own people the same respect they give outsiders.” This is an interesting comment. It suggests that some factor is at work preventing men from doing so in the Kingdom. Isn’t this factor called the government? Perhaps men don’t yet have the courage they’ll need to help women get the right to drive.

    Perhaps men, too, feel overwhelmed and powerless, and if so, the conversation should not be about driving, but about those factors that disempower men, and hold men back from standing up for women.

    I don’t disagree that women should drive. I disagree on the method for obtaining that right. For me, the whole thing is academic, as I no longer live in the Kingdom, and probably wouldn’t want to drive even if I still lived there.

    (Here, however, I LOVE driving, and do so every day.)

  16. Nine years ago, a friend and I were in town shopping. We were just walking along and chatting and the subject of driving came up. A Saudi man overheard us and literally shouted at us, “We can NEVER allow our women to drive! They will run away!”
    If we had not been so startled, we probably would have laughed ourselves silly. But then we both thought “How sad to be so insecure”

  17. I don’t understand the argument that women driving will cause the downfall of society as we know it? Saudi Arabia isn’t the first country in the Islamic world trying out this new crazy idea, its the LAST!

    Now I know Saudis are the most Muslim of the Muslims and were especially chosen by God to live in the sin-free utopia that is Saudi Arabia. At least as far as the women are concerned I guess, because we all know if there were no women there would be no sin*.

    As to the absolutely ridiculous argument that men seeing women in the driver’s seat (as opposed to the back seat) will suddenly experience more erections than they already obviously do, why don’t the Saudis stop protecting their unusually horny male population and start teaching boys that it isn’t their right to to think that they can fornicate with every lip-licking woman who happens to be within eye sight of them. In fact maybe men should be informed of the of the reality that all women are not just waiting around to be raped and pillaged by the first one who gets to them. THIS is the teaching that causes fitna, not women taking control of their lives.

    But then I guess they’re scared that if women actually get a taste of their own freedom then they might start forcing men to recognise that it’s not the women causing the downfall of society, its the men themselves.

    *sarcasm warning

  18. Linda, wow, his insecurity and the freedom it, in turn, takes from women IS really sad! Maybe they should work on why their women would run away. Is it because life sucks for them? If the men made the women’s lives more tolerable, they wouldn’t have to force them to stay by not allowing them to drive.

    Is the only thing keeping Saudi women from fleeing the fact that they are not allowed to drive?

    I’d hate to think the only reason someone stays with me is because I take away their freedom. What a way to live!

    (O how I hope this was only one guy’s opinion and not the thinking of the majority of Saudi men.)

  19. “Saudi women demanding their rights” is going to be real difficult and hard. I agree with Marahm and Ali Alyami on their excellent perspectives on this issue.

    Unlike the suffrage and civil rights movements in the US and other countries, it’s an entirely different ballgame when it comes to saudi arabia. Unlike saudi arabia, these “movements” were very broad ones which encompassed women and men with a very broad range of views. Again, unlike saudi arabia, which has a mafia-like governance structure, suffrage/civil rights movement leaders in US, Europe, India, South Africa … Susan B. Anthony, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and others …. operated in a governance structure which was at least “democratic”; with freedom of speech/ expression, right to assembly and protestations, etc.

    In saudi arabia, as we well know, there is no freedom of speech, public demonstrations or any public act of dissent are forbidden, political parties and trade unions are banned etc. Then how can any movement, whether for women rights or civil or human rights can succeed under such a mafia-like governance structure? I think governance structure needs to change in saudi arabia for any kind of “movement” to succeed. And that may be a long time in coming … sad but true!

  20. Reminds me of Eastern Germany, they always maintained that they needed the iron curtain to keep the ”West” out of the DDR, while everybody on both sides knew the Iron Curtain was build to keep the East germans in!
    Anyway, as if Saudi women have anywhere to run to. Saudi Arabia is one big prison. As soon as they reach a border they will need papers of their respective slave-owners that the ”dependents” are allowed to leave. And the Slave-owners get a text message anyway.

  21. @ LInda, they r so insecure because they know what tyrants then are. If woman got any rights there, the men would have to change by default. Guess its easier to be a jerk!

  22. Something to keep in mind is that change is difficult for most people, even in the US. When you are talking about changing an integral part of the culture and lifestyle of a given place (no matter how good the change may end up being for the majority involved), most people will get scared and want to avoid the change because that’s not the way they were taught to live and be.

    To affect significant change in any place, one must also change the mindset of the people. I consider this to be an affect of the lifestyle in Saudi Arabia, not the main cause. I think it may be that people are afraid of the change in gender roles in the society and what that might mean. Change can be a very scary thing to a lot of people.

    To bring the issue closer to home, think of how hard it’s been for gay couples to get rights in the US, a country that is not founded on any one religion. Think of all the discrimination such couples face still in the US. This still isn’t the same, but at least it’s something to think about. I mention this because a lot of religious leaders (and followers) in the US are against gay rights.

    I consider women driving in KSA to be a minor issue compared to other ones they face, such as child custody issues and having more legal freedoms as an individual. However, I believe this will all change as the mindset within the country changes, and not any sooner than that.

  23. I really hate when people who don’t live here or live a luxurious life here declare that women driving is not a big issue. It is huge. And it will also affect all the other women’s issues as well because they are all interconnected. But physically allowing women to MOVE is huge. It is also huge to those that need jobs to support their families.

  24. Driving will definitely affect all aspects of a woman’s life in Saudi Arabia. Even those who prefer not to drive may come under pressure from their families to drive, if only to get the man off the hook.

    I, too, dislike to hear strong opinions from people who’ve never lived in the Kingdom, whether those ideas are for or against an issue at hand.

    StrangeOne has a valid point, perhaps the most important point, in that change is scary, especially change in gender roles. We all know what will happen when women can move around at will. Many men are scared that they’ll no longer have the upper hand in women’s lifestyles.

    If their attitudes do not change on a more fundamental level, we may see women chaffeurs at the beck and call of their men.

  25. We already see women in Saudi Arabia having to work to support their families. Anyone who has to work deserves the autonomy that driving provides.

    If the Kingdom wants to cite Islam for preventing women driving, why does it not cite the same source, and take measures so that employment is not a necessity, but a true choice for women, a choice made out of the desire for self-fulfillment rather than having to assume the man’s role as financial provider?

  26. It’s true I don’t live there and never have. I’m just speaking from my own experience of not having a car of my own until recently and being chauffered around by a (female) family member for quite a few years. So maybe this is why it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. On the other hand, if it wasn’t for this female family member being able to drive and having her own car, I probably wouldn’t have gone nearly as many places.

    I realize my opinion isn’t as informed as someone who lives there (or has in the past). I hope that regulars to the blog understand that my opinion is one of an American. My main point was that to me, this is rooted in the expected gender roles within the society so it seems more of an affect than a cause. I agree that when women start driving, it’s going to mean a lot of changes because it’s going to mean a change in gender roles (which will be a good thing, IMO).

    I tend to agree with the points Marahm has brought up on this issue.

  27. StrangeOne, you are not amongst the strident Western voices coming to the rescue of poor Saudi women. I don’t think you meant that driving was a “minor issue compared to other ones they face, such as child custody issues and having more legal freedoms as an individual.”

    Obviously, the issues are interrelated. So which remedy comes first, and can the first remedy promote other remedies?

    On the surface, it would seem that driving would, indeed, go a long way towards helping women exercise rights that most other countries grant routinely. Ultimately, driving will help do exactly that.

    However, I suspect that if groups of women try to sieze the right to drive before they’ve prepared the sociological groundwork with respect to the government and “religious” leaders, they will bring more suffering upon themselves.

    Did Manal expect she’d spend five days in prison? Were those five days worth the jaunt behind the wheel?

  28. @Strangeone,
    You CHOSE not to drive. Completely different situation.

    Everytime a bit of momentum gets going- people try to deflate the movement by bringing up things like “more important issues”. Or we’re “not ready”. Well the government has done nothing to get things “ready” and the religious authorities have tried to make sure that “sociological groundwork” isn’t done.

    Almost certainly there will be problems when women start driving. They’ve almost insured it, and every transition has issues. So what? There are issues now. Any “reasoning” of the opposition is really collaborating with oppressors. It’s fine if that’s what your want to do. But that is what you are doing.

  29. ‘Did Manal expect she’d spend five days in prison? Were those five days worth the jaunt behind the wheel?’

    That makes it very clear that you just don’t get it.
    Could you perhaps explain what you mean by ‘sociological groundwork’ ? What ‘sociological groundwork’ did Rosa Parks or Gandhi lay out? I think Manal IS the sociological groundwork. She drove (and the other women who have been driving) and has proven that men’s penises did NOT fall off. That is some serious, brave sociological groundwork. Is it not?

  30. Lynn…” has proven that men’s penises did NOT fall off”. ur too funny. 🙂

  31. Lynn, ROTFL!

    I think that as the Saudi women themselves seem to find it quite important, and the men who oppose them find it so very important as to go to draconian measures to stop women driving, that we can conclude that is really is, quite important.

    And you don’t need to live there to come to this conclusion.

  32. Marahm, are you telling us we cannot choose our causes?
    The non-sequitur that if you haven’t lived anywhere you cannot have an informed opinion about it again?
    So we cannot engage ourselves and fight famine in Africa because we don’t live in Africa?
    We cannot support the cause of ending Female Genital Mutilation because we haven’t been mutilated ourselves?
    That boy that got killed in Syria, we should ignore that because we haven’t lived in Syria?

    How can you, and the others who use this logical fallacy dare to claim that if you don’t live somewhere you cannot have an opinion or support a good cause?
    So, according to you we cannot support any cause unless it is in our own country?

    You are curtailing freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of choice.
    This is despicable.
    The reason conditions in Saudi Arabia are improving somewhat is because people outside of KSA care and voice their opinions.

    Why do you think Saudis are putting out their causes in English, on the internet?
    They are asking for help!
    They are not making these for Saudis, they are making them for the world community, they are asking for help from the world community.
    That’s us.
    So who are you Marahm to speak for those Saudi women who are asking for our help n English????

    The reason Manal got off reasonably easy is because of people like me who are vocal, critical and active.

    You are not representing Saudi women, they are doing that themselves, by putting out sites, tweets and facebook pages in English!
    Who are you to claim they do not want outside help and support? What do you base that on? Not on the English sites created by the Saudi women.

  33. Wow, Aafke, you’ve projected upon me a whole load of positions I’ve never taken. From your rant against me, you said: “You are curtailing freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of choice.
    This is despicable.”

    And this is an insult, all the more so because it is false. So I didn’t like your video, and I said so politely. So what?

    My defense against your accusations lies in my previous posts, which I needn’t repeat, and I’m not interested in a cat fight.

    I will concede that your claim of outside influence seems to have helped in gaining attention and release for Sauids who have landed in jail simply they exercised what should have been a right.

    However, I still don’t think the example of Rosa Parks or Ghandi (mentioned by Lynn) is the appropriate inspiration for Saudi women. I could be wrong, and so could you, believe it or not.

  34. The word “extrapolate” comes to mind…it was used on this blog before by another little ankle biter that took peoples words and went wild with them.

    Tiring though amusing it is.

  35. @Marham,

    I think your idea that a new protest by women as insane is wrong. You based that on the idea that it has been done before (i.e. during the first gulf war 1990 time frame). Yes it was not successful then, but the world has change significantly. That was an era where there was no internet in Saudi, no social networking, no youtube, satellite channel coverage was minimal, news coverage from in country was almost not present, Saudi news papers did not dare cover any negative topic, etc. In effect any media based campaign would not even have a chance to see the light. It is totally a different world today as already proven by the coverage Manal’s story received.

    My second point, you sound like you are trying to distance yourself in the last comment from a position that you have promoted in comment after comment here. That position is that women who never have been too Saudi should not have a strong position. Let me explain my position on this. It is the fact that the world is paying attention that is at the heart of this campaign for Saudi women to get the ability to drive. It is important for anyone with a conscience and the ability to support them to pay attention. The idea that they should try to create an internal conversation with religious leaders, men and clerics as a method to move this issue forward is also false. This method have been tried before and has been constant(i.e. not old and not just one time). The issue does not receive the proper coverage until someone takes action. Manal and other women, the heroins who sacrificed for this cause, were able to generate more focus and visibility for the issue than has been generated in years of trying settle tactics.

    I know that you are also promoting that there are more important issues for women, but really ask yourself what is the harm on progressing one issue for women? What is wrong with putting focus on all women issues through one symbolic but highly visible issue?

    No one here is accusing you of being against women causes, however your style of presenting negatives against people who are taking actions leaves you on the camp of apologists.

  36. @Marahm – Sandy said ‘ I really hate when people who don’t live here or live a luxurious life here declare that women driving is not a big issue…’

    And then you said:
    ‘I, too, dislike to hear strong opinions from people who’ve never lived in the Kingdom, whether those ideas are for or against an issue at hand.’

    I think that comment is where the idea that you want to curtail people’s expression of opinions/support.

    Do you realize that that is NOT at all the same thing that Sandy was saying so you should remove the ‘too’? Sorry, I’m such a stickler for things like that.

    Could you perhaps explain why you don’t think my examples of pioneers for social change are appropriate for Saudi women? Perhaps you could give us a more appropriate inspirational figure?

  37. @Sandy,
    Yes it was my choice, but it was a choice based on circumstances within my family. I had to choose the best choice for not just me, but for other family members, too. Just because I turn 18 and am an American doesn’t mean that I am in a typical (or stereotypical) American family situation. I was just pointing out that I know what it’s like to have to rely on others for transportation. It’s not fun, but it’s not super-horrible either.

    I am not saying women shouldn’t drive, I’m just saying there is more than one way to contribute to such a movement. Having never lived there, this is one area where I WILL say I don’t think it’s my place to comment on the “best” or even “better” ways to promote women driving. I can come up with ideas, but that doesn’t mean any of them would work well.

    However, after hearing situations where women have been harmed or harassed after attempts of driving (though I’m not sure how common this would be), it is something that does need to be taken into consideration if allowed on a nation-wide scale. That was the point I was trying to make about safety. If it’s between my safety and letting a male drive, I’ll take the male driver and look for a more creative solution to allow women to drive- SAFELY. But once again, I am relying on the information available to me online in English and I do not (and never have) lived there.

  38. I assure you it i super horrible for some because they have no one to drive them. And it is not always safe to get in cars with strangers- or with reckless drivers.

    And your situation was still totally different than what happens here.

  39. All you have to do is look at the news bar at the left to find support for Sandy’s argument

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110601/wl_mideast_afp/saudiwomenrightsdrivingcrime_20110601105917

  40. This is an interesting article about someone fighting for someone ELSE’S liberties.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/05/16/Zwerg.freedom.rides/?iref=obinsite

  41. MoQ, I never called, “…a new protest by women as insane…” though I may do so now. I do not distance myself from any comment I made previously unless someone challenges its worth and I find the challenge convincing. I am not “…promoting that there are more important issues for women.” If I have alluded to that idea, I merely alluded to it, not promoted it.

    Your remaining first point makes some sense. I was in Riyadh during those years (when women first tried driving). We had nothing but the telephone for conversation, and rumor passed by word of mouth. Today’s electronic atmosphere must surely work there as it does elsewhere– as a means to share, enlighten, and yes, influence.

    So, apart from maybe helping get a few people get out of jail, has electronic communication made a substantial, measureable impact on women’s rights in Saudi Arabia? I would expect that five days in jail for driving should not have occurred at all, had electronic media been as influential as you claim it to be— or perhaps I misunderstand. Are you suggesting that Manal is lucky because she got only five days, thanks to a ruckus made by international bloggers and tweeters?

    Regarding your second point, that “…an internal conversation with religious leaders, men and clerics as a method to move this issue forward…” is not an effective tactic– obviously, it has not been an effective tactic so far.

    However, you might reconsider putting me in “.. the camp of apologists.” I have never argued in favor of preventing women from driving, or of condoning the traditional state of women’s non-rights.

  42. Lynn, whether or not Sandy and I said the same thing– in different words, different tone, of course– is a moot point, but if you want the “too” removed, you may have it. Here it is:

    I dislike hearing strong opinions from people who’ve never lived in the Kingdom, whether those ideas are for or against an issue at hand.

    Now, let’s move on to a more constructive aspect of your comment— examples of pioneers for social change.

    The people you cited were based in a particular social, political and economic context. Much mayhem and tragedy accompanied their ultimate accomplishments. I would be cautious, if I were in a position of influence, to promote taking their examples as instructive for Saudi women. The success of these world heroes does not gurantee or predict the success of Saudi women. In fact,
    I would expect the opposite to occur— that Saudi women would end up suffering even more, just as they (and their families) suffered after some of them took the wheel in Riyadh during the mid-90s.

    Oh, but now we have international media, pressure from outside, you might say. Well, how many more women will have to spend five days in jail before all that influence kicks in?

    I cannot offer an appropriate figure as an example for Saudi women to emulate. Perhaps there isn’t one, but more likely, I simply don’t know of him or her.

    In fact, there is a lot about this issue I do not know, and I’m realizing that I need to adjust my reading and writing habits, because I’m not learning anything in this thread. Thanks for showing me this. I’m not being sarcastic here. I really mean it.

  43. @Maham,

    ” never called, “…a new protest by women as insane…”

    Here is your first comment on this thread. You actually opened all your long comments with it.

    “The definition of insanity is “doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.”
    This experiment has been done, years ago. It was repeated by one woman on 22 May with the same results.”

    The sign of someone that has no clear positions is they forget what they say, because they make up their positions as they go along. I have watched you shift and turn most of your positions in the same thread.

    So really debating you on any point will be a waste of time, you will just change it again and claim we misunderstand you. Good luck with figuring out what you stand for, because so far it is what argument you want to win, not real convictions.

  44. @Marahm – ‘The success of these world heroes does not gurantee or predict the success of Saudi women. In fact, I would expect the opposite to occur— that Saudi women would end up suffering even more, just as they (and their families) suffered after some of them took the wheel in Riyadh during the mid-90s.’

    I’m glad to see that you are going to read up some more on people who have sacrificed their comfort (much more than a few days in jail some gave their lives) in order to affect change in their societies. Thankfully it is not up to you since you don’t even live there anymore but to someone who does live there they may see the cause of women’s autonomy as something that IS worthy of a little discomfort or even death if need be. What you perhaps don’t understand is that those who sacrifice for a cause do not do it for themselves but for others, future generations. That is why they get called heroes. See?

    You have kept up on the lives of those who tried this crazy experiment in the 90’s? Cool, perhaps they could come on here and tell us all what it was like and what their lives have become. What are their names?

  45. Oh, yes, the definition of insanity! Well, maybe this is an American thing… it’s a phrase that we use sometimes to express the futility of trying to achieve a particular result without changing our means to that end. I can understand why it didn’t translate well in this context.

    You are right, though, in that debating with me is a waste of time. Arguing and debating do require firm positions, and lots of data to support them. Firm positions are flourishing here, but so is ridicule and sarcasm that does nothing for advancing those positions.

    I am willing to change my convictions when I learn facts that convince me to change them. This blog is no longer the place for me to learn anything that enlightens me in such a way. You and the others can lash out at me as much as you want, but that will do nothing for Saudi women’s struggle to get the right to drive.

  46. Lynn, I would love to see any of those women– the ones who were actively involved with this movement– come here and express their experiences. Do you happen to know where I can access their writings?

  47. Oh, I thought you knew them since you spoke of the suffering that they and their families went through. Was your comment re their suffering just an assumption?

  48. Oh, come on, Lynn, I’d like to salvage something useful from this exchange. If you do not know where I might access their writings, a simple, “No,” would have sufficed.

    Well, I am now off to work. Later tonight, when I check in again with this thread, I hope I find something constructive, but I’m not optimistic. You all might need to continue backbiting without my participation.

  49. Marahm, LOL! You couldn’t have just told me that YES, you just assumed they all suffered?

    Also, I asked you WHO they were, if I knew something about them or their ‘writings’ (They have writings?) why would I ask you? You are the one that brought them, and their families, up. I’m just asking you to tell me on what you based your assertions of their sufferings.

  50. @Marahm,

    “Well, maybe this is an American thing… it’s a phrase that we use sometimes to express the futility of trying to achieve a particular result without changing our means to that end.”

    Nothing was lost in the translation. I was educated, live and work, in the US for many many years. Just another assumption on your part!

    The word Insane in my reference is also used to mean futility of cause. Reread my comment with that in mind and you will see it.

    You have these assumptions about others that actually sound prejudice at a certain level:

    – If a person was not born in the US, or is not an American then he/she must not know American phrases as well as you do.
    – If a person did not live in Saudi, then his/her opinion and knowledge must be less than yours.
    etc.

    Please, understand this is how you come across to some of us. You do not focus on making your argument. You try to use these fallacies and assumptions as a crutch.

  51. I have met and know a few of the women who drove in the 1990’s. I wrote posts on their experiences and ramifications of their courageous acts. These women, their families did suffer. Here is a post I wrote 2 years ago about the women who did drive:

    http://americanbedu.com/2008/06/24/saudi-arabia-the-women-who-dared-to-drive/

  52. On the topic of foreigners should not be interfering with Saudi problems, and that they are not welcome to do so, this article might be interesting to read:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/03/hillary-clinton-saudi-arabia_n_871199.html

  53. I did see that article and found it very interesting since the initial campaign on Facebook and elsewhere made it clear that it was to be a Saudi women’s initiative. Much as I hate to say it, I don’t foresee Hillary responding publicly and endorsing the request. However I’m sure there will be pressures made about human rights which will envelope those of the Saudi women.

  54. […]   Recently, I was flamed on a blog I’d been reading and commenting on for years: http://americanbedu.com/2011/05/26/saudi-arabia-how-should-a-saudi-woman-demand-her-rights/   I feel sad that I became the target of people who think differently than I do, and are so […]

  55. […] Recently, I was flamed on a blog I’d been reading and commenting on for years: http://americanbedu.com/2011/05/26/saudi-arabia-how-should-a-saudi-woman-demand-her-rights/ […]

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