Being the feminist that I am, I completely support women in Saudi Arabia who wish to drive vehicles. However, today I was exposed to a different view that made me feel sympathetic towards individuals who are against women driving in Saudi Arabia. Before you make any judgments, understand that I still stand firm regarding my support for female drivers. However, I felt the need to share someone’s opinion, and to reflect back on it.
I met an individual today who spent most of his childhood in Saudi Arabia, where he spoke highly of the family oriented environment that he experienced growing up. While I enjoyed listening to that aspect of the conversation, I could not help but cut-in and ask about his opinion regarding Saudi women driving, and that was his exact response:
“Men in Saudi Arabia are sexually oppressed as a result of the country’s laws regarding the seperation of men and women. Thus, by allowing women to drive, you are literally giving the sexually oppressed men the opportunity to sexually harrass the female drivers”
Can I just say “Bravo” to his conclusion? It is actually right on! As someone who lived a portion of her childhood in Egypt, I can completely agree that the minute men will get the chance to interact with women, they will abuse it! Eighty percent (if not more) have reported being verbally or physically harrassed in Egypt as of 2011, despite that the laws in Egypt are more lenient regarding the relationship between men and women. Yet, it is a known fact that the majority of Egyptian men are sexually oppressed for various reasons, which include (but are not limited to) the difficulty in getting married.
However, back to this individual’s conclusion, Saudi women WILL get harassed while they are driving, and they WILL face difficulty getting accepted by the society, and there WILL be cases of violence against female drivers… but, until when?
Rememeber way back in the 1960s when schools were segregated in the United States? Now, think deeper and you will remember that little girl, Ruby Bridges, who was the first child to attend an all white school in the south. How did that go for her? She was violently harrassed and threatened, until president Eisenhower had to send U.S. Marshals to oversee Ruby’s saftey. It was not easy for Ruby, but because of her bravery and strength, we see kids today from different backgrounds and ethnicities learning together inside one classroom.
It will not be easy in the beginning for female drivers to change the society’s views and stop men from abusing them as they drive; however, it is possible. There is light at the end of the tunnel so hold on there.