For anyone who has ever lived in or visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, you can attest to the fact that the drivers here - all men, of course - are more often than not, crazy, reckless, and not at all courteous, with few exceptions. Many drivers here seem to think that they are more important and in more of a hurry than everyone else. Traffic is always a nightmare. I can't help but think that if women were allowed to drive here, driving conditions would drastically improve and naturally become more civilized and the streets would become safer for everyone.
The arguments for why women should not and are not allowed to drive here in Saudi Arabia are weak, at best. I've talked at length with my husband about this subject and his basic vague reason is that women aren't allowed to drive here "for their own protection." This can have many different connotations, but I really believe that the main thinking behind this type of logic is expressed in a video of a Saudi cleric filmed in 2005, called "Why Women Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Drive (in Saudi Arabia)." You can view it for yourself by clicking HERE, or just read the complete translation below for this holy man of Islam's own words.
From the Memri TV Project – Saudi Cleric Dr. Abd Al-Aziz Al-Fawzan: Al-Majd TV - KSA/UAE - June 17, 2005.
“In conservative countries like Saudi Arabia, this blessed kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which, Allah be praised, is the most conservative in the Muslim world, in which a woman maintains her honor, decency, and modesty, and she does not reveal anything – not her hands, her face, or anything – how can she drive a car? Those who call to allow women to drive – according to what has been written – can be divided into two groups. The first group includes Westernized people, who want to westernize the society, to tell the truth. They want to destroy society, corrupt it, and drag it down into the depths of decay and permissiveness, like in Western societies. These people have been blinded by what they saw there when they studied or visited there, and they want our society to be like other societies. They want it to be devoid of all values, morals, and modesty. They want women to go out on the streets all made up, like a harlot, with her face uncovered, like they see in the West. They think that the shortest and best way to reach this goal is to allow women to drive, because if a woman drives, she will reveal her face, drive without a male chaperone, will have an easy opportunity to meet all kinds of young men and women, and she will get all made up, will mix with men, and so on. I don’t think that any woman throughout human history has been as oppressed as the Western woman today – and they still claim they have given her freedom. They took her out of the home in order to exploit her - to exploit her honor and dignity. Furthermore, in many countries, her salary is lower than the man’s, but she works more than him. She does not get what she wants unless she sacrifices her honor, to her bosses or her co-workers. How strange! Even though they have permissiveness there, and any man can satisfy his desires outside of marriage, he’s not satisfied with ten or twenty. Any girl he sees, who has certain features, he wants. If she consents, fine. If not, he rapes her. “
This is the kind of twisted reasoning that the people here are fed by their highly respected religious leaders. This guy is actually insinuating that every Western man, when confronted with a woman he finds desirable, will either have sex with her willingly or unwillingly. Puhh-leeeazzze! And he makes it sound like there are no people in the West with morals or modesty or honor, that every single person in the West is corrupt, that all women are exploited and have to sleep around to get anywhere in the workplace. Not only are his remarks extremely exaggerated and inaccurate, but they are also highly offensive and insulting.
I was truly appalled when I viewed this video, because it made me realize that the big problem is that people here listen to and believe inaccuracies like this. I know that Muslims don't like or appreciate other people making ridiculous generalizations about them like - all Muslims are terrorists, that they all beat their wives, and that the women are oppressed. But then they should also understand that making their own ridiculous generalizations about Westerners like - all Western men are rapists, all Western women are harlots, all Westerners have no morals - are just as wrong and hurtful. These types of broad, derrogatory, and highly exaggerated portrayals of one another must stop if there is ever to be any real peace and understanding between the Middle East and the West.