Sunday, April 26, 2009

"I want to drive because there is no reason why I can't." Well, yeah. There is a reason. That reason is "control." Good luck on that.

Ahh. Yeah. There is a reason. The biggest one is control. That, and the fact that you are covered head-to-toe in black and it would be dangerous. Not just to you, but to everyone else on the road as well. Take off that veil so you can actually see before you get behind the wheel of a car. You might want to consider hiking that abeya up just a bit, too, so it doesn't get tangled in your feet and twisted around the gas and brake pedals. Just some friendly advice. Don't you know the statistics for PCRC, here? High. They are very high.

Have to commend the young woman for her tenacity, though. Even if she is being naive about the reason why women will never drive in The Sandbox. I just don't see it happening. At least not while I am here.

A 24-year-old woman studying in the U.S. [but, of course!], Areej, has launched a website / project called "N7nu - We the Women." [I have no clue what the N7nu is supposed to stand for. Perhaps if you want to be taken seriously, Areej, you should use real words and not teenage text-speak.] The article says, "A post-graduate thesis on women driving in the Kingdom has turned into a massive campaign..." Massive must be a "relative" term. Areej "was inspired to write a thesis on the subject, as her father, after retirement, would juggle his time in chaufferuring her, her mother and three sisters." She says her father did this "as he felt responsible for the women folk of his family and did not want to rely on drivers." That is a statement that can be interpreted in more than just one way. But, okay... She says, "I always felt guilty for few months that he used to drive me around. Driving four girls in one house is a hard task. We had drivers quitting after becoming fed up by the amount of places we needed driving to." [Sic.] Calling B.S. on that. Drivers come here as a way to make money for their families back home in other countries. Those drivers will drive you anywhere you want to go - and anytime. They quit because they are not being paid. For the sake of argument, we'll go with your version of why they quit, Areej.

The young woman's thesis was started a year ago and her website was launched as part of her project. The website "has gained its own momentum. It is a place where differing views from both men and women, Saudis and non-Saudis, are being expressed openly and freely." I went to her website. I must have missed something. There are seven comments - total - on the entire site - written by two people - one of them is Areej. She does have some videos - three of them - and as of my writing this, they have been viewed 409 times. I didn't watch the videos. They can be seen here.

Personally, I don't have a problem with women driving. I do not disagree with what Areej is trying to do and I wish her success in her campaign. I do, however, think that personal safety is going to be an issue. You want to drive? Fine. But you MUST remove your veil. You can leave your headscarf on. Heck, the majority of the men driving in this country are wearing head-coverings too. Is it a problem for them? Well, yeah, it is. For half of them. The half that wears their guthra down the side of their face so that it covers the area where they should have peripheral vision - and they don't. Picture it like blinders on a horse. Blinders are put on horses so that they cannot see what is coming up beside them - they can see only straight ahead. There. That is the problem. How many accidents are caused because of obstructed vision? Bet no one has ever given that any consideration and it likely will never be attributed to the cause; vehicle speed isn't much of a consideration, either, and rarely attributed to the cause. But we all know better.

"The issue or the idea of women not being able to drive in Saudi Arabia is something that people don't talk about, although it is a pretty big deal." Oh, really? It has been talked about and talked about and talked about - since we got here - and that was almost seven years ago. The proverbial dead horse has been beaten and beaten and beaten. Again, I am not disagreeing that women should be allowed to drive in this part of the world. Isn't this the ONLY country in the world where women can't drive? Areej says, "We have a very complicated culture." [Another statement that can be interpreted in more than one way. Ha. Understatement, that.] It is a culture of control, Areej. If women are going to be allowed to drive then the control that men have over women will be quashed. I think you and I both know that that is never going to happen.

Good luck with this Areej. Get back to us and let us know how it all works out. You are 24. You are on the right track and will, no doubt, go far with your education and personal goals. You just won't be driving yourself there - wherever it is that you go. Not if you are living in The Sandbox, you won't. [Visit Areej's site, "We the Women," here.]


  1. Hello there,

    I checked her website, and I must say, you are being too harsh on her.
    The word N7nu means "us". I don't see why anyone would take her less seriously by using that word. It is not a "teenage text-speak", I think she is trying to have a catchy name that would attract her audience (the younger generation that I assume are the focus for her thesis).

    She has 774 fans on her facebook page, 4 discussion topics with comments from 27 individuals. That is without the comments on her facebook wall that are well over 50.

    Also, saying that "They quit because they are not being paid." is just speculation. True many are unpaid, but you are generalizing.

  2. She lost me at 'women folk'. And that n7nu is silly beyond words. I admire her spirit, but let's face it - a Facebook page does not a movement make.

    I agree with you Miss Sabra. It is all about control - nothing more, nothing less. That modesty business is all a sham and women are going to have to take to the streets en masse to make any kind of difference there in the sandbox. I just don't see that happening.

    On an unrelated but pertinent note - remember how Isadora Duncan died?

    "She was killed in a freak 1927 accident when her scarf became tangled in the rear axle of her automobile."

  3. N7nu is not "English." The rest of the site is in English. It IS teenage-text-speak. We can agree to disagree, Anonymous.

    I did not go past her site "We the Women." I opened every page there. My facts are correct. If one chooses to go beyond the "We the Women," and find 774 fans... 27 comments from 774 fans? Oh, yeah. Massive.

    As far as the driver's quitting because they go unpaid? I made it very clear that I was giving Areej the benefit of the doubt, and going with her version of the story.

    I do not think that I am not being too hard on her. I wish her all the best with her endeavor and hope that she will be successful in this - her plea to be heard that women, someday, will drive in The Sandbox. If she is able to change the mind-set here and make it so that women will be allowed in the driver's seat of cars, believe me, I will be one of the first to offer her well-deserved praise. Don't you think my life would be a heck of a lot easier here if I could drive? It would be easier for all of us. It just ISN'T going to happen.

  4. See my response to Anonymous, DL. 27 comments with 774 "friends."

    The control issue is going to be much to big for Areej to tackle. Not that I don't wish that she could, but... Not going to happen.

    Had to Google Isadora Duncan. The flowing black robes will definitely be dangerous; ditto for the veils. No one seems to want to put THAT into the equation, though.

  5. It IS all about control. Women can't drive. Women can't travel without permission from their jailer,,,oops, guardian. BTW..I do wonder who is Areej is staying with in the US unless she had a VERY enlightened father.
    I have to give her credit for effort. She is going about her mission in the right way. She is targeting the younger women. If there is any difference to made here, they are the ones who will accomplish that.

  6. Jailer, guardian. Same same, Linda.

    I agree with you... And I hope that others do not see just the negative in my post. Truly I do give her credit for her efforts.

  7. so. safety issues related to driving. what excuse do they use for the male drivers there?

  8. I am using "safety issues," with regard to women driving, Anonymous. Think about it. Cover your head with a black towel, then cover your face with just a little slit for your eyes with another black towel. Tell me that is "safe" to be driving in. Oh, and to add to the fun, drape a few yards of fabric around your feet and then get in your car. Let me know how often the fabric gets caught on the pedals. Men? They are the same safety hazard minus the veil. Why do you think there is so much PCRC, here? Factor in the worst driving habits in the entire world. There you have it. Big safety issues. And the men, for the time being, anyway, are entirely at fault.

  9. N7nu is the transliteration of the Arabic word for we (pronounced nahnu). It is common for Arabs that also speak English to use this technique, using our alphabet to write their words. It is also a tool for those who do not read Arabic to sound out the words.

    The 7 represents a letter that has no equivalent sound in English, a guttural version of H that comes from the throat.

    Great blog, it makes me miss the nuttiness of the Middle Wast.


  10. Thanks for clearing that up for me, Rocket. And thank you very much for the nice compliment!


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