And the right to drive continues…

30 Jun

Ahhh…Saudi Arabia: land of gleaming deserts, historic mosques, rich oil fields, and home to the United States government’s closest allies in the Middle East (other than Israel, of course.)

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have had an intimate friendship for decades: the monarchy providing land for the U.S. military to camp on (and bases from which said military conducts its war-mongering); and last year the Saudi government paid 60.5 billion dollars to the U.S., in its biggest weapons sale to date.

But that’s not why I’m writing this….

The ongoing fight for the right of women to drive a car in Saudi Arabia continues. Popping the trunk of a car, changing the oil, climbing into the driver’s seat, and driving wherever she needs to go. Simple, tiny, daily things that any autonomous individual needs to do. But you can’t be a woman in one of the world’s richest countries and drive a car!

What else can’t you do?

Well, you can’t get an operation unless your male guardian authorizes it. You can’t work unless your male guardian authorizes it. You cannot leave the country unless your male guardian authorizes it. So, maybe driving a car is relative….if you can’t go to the airport to board a plane, search for a job and work it, or go to the hospital to have your appendix removed. After all, if there’s such an extreme prohibition against what a woman can and cannot do, where’s she going to drive to?

And yet, the burgeoning movement of Saudi women determined to sit behind the wheel–to be the driver–persists.

Five women were arrested for driving yesterday in the kingdom, four of which were riding in a car together, begging the question: are there four steering wheels in the vehicle? Or is the implicit danger found not just in one woman driving, but in women banding together and attempting to free themselves from the enormous amount of legal, physical, emotional, cultural, and religious constraints that all women in Saudi Arabia face?


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