Sunday, October 8, 2017

Saudi women finally allowed to drive...sort of

Last week Saudi Arabia announced it would finally allow women to get drivers licenses, despite protests by nobody. 

Well, there was this one old conservative cleric who, true story, objected because women “only have a quarter of a brain.” To be fair, he meant women’s capacities are diminished while out excitedly shopping, and that driving in that state would be dangerous. He was then banned by the government from preaching henceforth, and will be running for Congress in Alabama.

Saudi Arabia was perhaps the last country which overtly kept women from getting drivers licenses. While technically legal in Afghanistan, culturally speaking, women driving is still seen by men as equivalent to doing a public pole dance slathered in infidel butter. 

In America women tempt an equally violent reaction by appearing on Fox News as brunettes. 

The new law will not take effect for another nine months. Nine. Months. The Saudi ambassador to the U.S. explained the delay; “We have to make sure our streets are ready for a potential doubling in traffic.” 

If I can read between the lines, I think he really meant “We hope the world comes to an end in the next nine months so we won’t actually have to deal.” 

Other things Saudi women still cannot do:

Try on clothes while shopping. The mere idea of a woman in her underwear under the same roof as men who are strangers is apparently too heady. 

This is the party line, but I suspect that men just don’t want to be stuck outside a changing room when the game is about to come on. 

Visit cemeteries. The argument against women driving used to be that it would “harm their ovaries.” Maybe the same goes for being in close proximity to dead bodies. My suspicion is that the average ovary goes through a lot worse each month.

Saudi women cannot swim in a public pool with men, exercise at a gym with men, sit in a Starbucks with men, or enter a bank through the same entrance as men. 

On the plus side, they can totally marry whoever their male guardian agrees to, or sign a contract with his approval, or get divorced if he gives the O.K. Recently a woman’s right to have surgery without a male guardian’s approval was legalized. 

Next June she will able to drive to the operation in a car, unchaperoned. Well, as long as her male guardian says it’s O.K. to leave the house. 

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