Abu Muhammed

Contrarian View: Why Women Shouldn’t Drive

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As veterans of the urban warfare of the fourth largest city in the United States (and two years after we left it was crowned deadliest as the murder capital), my family and I had contrived a lifestyle that included the necessary security of my company on all excursions unless when there was a dire necessity.

Still, hopping the bus with small children in North Philadelphia was an unacceptable alternative mode of travel in the heart of “badlands” for a lone Muslim woman. Regardless of the carjackings that were an all too frequent occurrence in the urban landscape of the American street, driving even if I wasn’t there to ride shot gun presented a more acceptable risk than being a pedestrian with small children. Despite my wife’s reluctance to do so, after many reassuring conversations and talks about how she could avoid being a victim behind the wheel, she became a licensed driver.

Driving was part of our plan for her security because it kept her safe.

In Saudi Arabia, the right for women to drive, which has become one of many western media issues to argue the abject subjugation of Arab women under their men, has been an interesting piece of sexist propaganda engineered by so called human rights advocates to chisel a foothold in what would seem, the granite buttress of thousands of years of Arab male hegemony.

See also: Mirror, Signal, Man-Oeuvre: Driving Claims Women’s Innocence – Saudi Cleric

In all the protests and outrage over the issue, I have yet to hear any proponent of the right for women to drive to ask why those who make up the rules say no; or figure it out from what they do know about what is going on in the GCC, why Saudi Arabia will not let women drive. The reason is not a classified state secret. Such is the blindness of ethnocentricism, the cultural narcissism which has driven the west to annihilate seemingly countless peoples and their cultures (as well as cause the extinctions of a myriad variety of plant and animal life) in the name of their so called progress or modernization never ceases to amaze me.

Of the several reasons that I can think of as to why no self respecting husband, (son or father for that matter) would allow any woman to drive in Saudi Arabia, the first that comes to mind is enough for me to outlaw any Saudi driving anything outside a tricycle if it were in my power to do so.

Saudi Arabia has more auto related fatalities than any country in the world. In any other place, this would be consider a national crisis. In fact, it is the number one cause of death in GCC countries. It would seem to me before I begin advocating ‘the better halves’ of KSA to join in the carnage; I would at least try to address the factors contributing to these alarming stats before tossing Fatimah the keys to the Bentley. Which is more important, the right to drive or protection from harm and possible death? With population growth at almost at a flatline, wouldn’t it be more prudent to improve road safety first?

Just perhaps the royal government is still formulating a plan for a bottom-up solution to the national crisis. One might wonder, since the King has never given any negative opinion about the prospect of women driving, that maybe he feels, explaining his position to a bunch of sophomoric activists is beneath his dignity.

In their narrow focus on the issue, western activists (and their sympathizers) have unwittingly revealed that their real concern isn’t the welfare of Arab women. Their insensitivity to the issues surrounding women driving (which is more complex than just the auto fatality rate) in Saudi Arabia is the equivalent of promoting sex out of wedlock in country being ravished by AIDS.

When I talked to my wife on the phone about not being able to drive before she joined me in Saudi, I added, “Believe me, you wouldn’t want to.”

My wife not driving in Saudi Arabia is now part of our plan to keep her safe.

2 Responses to Contrarian View: Why Women Shouldn’t Drive

  1. JCWS 05/12/2011 at 2:12 PM

    The issue is freedom. I agree, in an ideal world both men and women would have the choice between driving themselves and being driven by specially trained, preferably F1 professonal drivers able to avoid the dangers of the road in the Kingdom or elsewhere. There is something quite genuinely caring about an approach which seeks to protect women by placing an expectation on men that they will provide for women and children to be driven in order to keep them safe. I have no fundamental problem with this, even if I am unsure whether tthere is any reality in assuming women are made any safer by being driven. Looked at in this way, it is no diffferent from men opening doors for women; a sign of care and respect. BUT if women do not want men to open dooors for them, or do not want to be driven, how can you argue that they should be deprivied of their choice to say so. The law of any country should not be making it illegal for women to drive. It must be a choice. And could someone clarify whether taxi drivers, for example, are specially trained to avoid fatalities? Are women any safer in a taxi than being driven by their husbands or taxi drivers? The statstics in the UK are the reverse; women drivers are significantly less likley to contribute to, or be involved in, accidents.

    • Abu Muhammed 05/12/2011 at 4:39 PM

      I like your comment because it shows more of an intellectual openess not common in those that respond to some of my blogs as of late. There is a cultural component to the driving debate that most outsiders of Saudi culture over look. Even the royal family will proably agree with you that women have the right to drive– but you cannot compare Saudi society with the UK and expect the same thing the happen. You have a different set socio-psychological and historical variables you aren’t taking into consideration.
      Right now, allowing women to drive in Saudia is like calling fire in a crowded stadium. If everyone tries to make it out of the stadium at the same time, more death can be cause by the stampede than the fire.There will be dire consequences because of the cultural logistics. Saudia Arabia, though it has all the trappings of western society, is far from being westernized. The cultural view and attitudes are very different from the west and something seemingly as innocuous as driving can have adverse effects and cause great harm which has very little to do whether women are better drivers than their male counterparts.

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