So today's the day, everyone: June 17. The day women will finally take the wheel in Saudi Arabia…
Or won't they? Will the fear of police detention; of UAE tanks and fighter jets (as the rumor goes); and, of course, of good old-fashioned fire and brimstone hold us back? Will the rumor-spreading fear-mongers, the damning finger-shakers, the regimented naysayers get their way? Will the fight be postponed another 20 years? Let's hope not.
Let's hope and pray that whatever happens today, women will wake up to a brighter future in Saudi Arabia and in the world as a whole. This Grand Arab Uprising, the Arab Spring, has been a tide of change across the Arab world. It's passed Saudi Arabia by so far – let's hope it can be a force to help bring about, at the very least, the most elemental of rights for women: that of mobility. Let's hope what happens today can in itself be a force of change to bring about the many rights of women in this country that are so sadly lacking.
The arguments people use against women's driving here are each just as illogical, nonsensical and easily proven incorrect as the other. Women's driving is most definitely not against Islam – to ride donkeys and horses was hardly outlawed by the Prophet Muhammad 1400 years ago. An excuse made for the misogynistic customs of society – and in that, we are very much un-Islamic! – is no excuse at all; to upset those outdated traditions that we hold to so closely is something I eagerly anticipate, something that should've been done long ago. For those who claim that 'this is not the right time' – when will be the right time, and who is to suggest just how will we determine this castle-in-the-sky 'right time'? The traffic here is a disaster. Laws are nonexistent. My American mother, a driver with more than 20 years of experience, grits her teeth at the speeding, the recklessness, the road races. Traffic laws need to be implemented here, and fast; perhaps the advent of 'dangerous women drivers' will finally get the police up and running, and the rules practiced.
People speak of a dark age of 'harassment' and the 'dissolution of public morals'. Hate to break it to you, but 'the dissolution of public morals' has hardly been stopped by something as meager as women's driving. Walk into any mall you find. Walk along the street in your black tent and see how many honks you get; how many filthy words you get yelled out of car windows at you. It is an anomaly to find a girl without a boyfriend – or, oh the horror, girlfriend! – in our nation's colleges and universities. Same goes for boys. Public morals? What public morals, where? I find this 'dissolution' already rocketing along, due in part to the oppressive stifling so many Saudi youth feel in this country, which this ban is a part of. Countless pious and devout Muslim women drive the world over. It is both unrealistic and disrespectful to assume that to drive is to be a slut, thank you very much.
That distant dream on the horizon of a Saudi Arabia without sexual harassment, with proper traffic laws, of a Saudi Arabian society that does not demean women, that respects them as the Qur'an, the God they claim to follow does: "Never will I turn away from the deeds of any of you, male or female; you are of one another" (3:195) – will be just that, a distant dream, until we women of Saudi Arabia have the courage to stand up and demand our God-given rights.
!And when we do, God be with those who refuse us