Saudi Arabia: Women – 3 Steps Forward and 10 Years Back

 

Three steps forward and ten years back.  That may be what rights for women in Saudi Arabia feel like and especially with the latest edict by the Commission for the Protection of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV).  Sheikh Motlab al-Nabet spokesman of the Ha’eal district, said the committee has the right to order a woman to cover her eyes if they are viewed as too tempting or alluring.

One Saudi man was admitted to the hospital after he engaged in a fight with a CPVPV member ordering that his wife cover her eyes. The husband suffered two stabs to his hand which required medical condition.  At least this husband was sticking up for his wife but it then makes one wonder that how far will the CPVPV go to enforce this ruling?

Crown Prince Nayef has been known as a hardliner and supporter of the CPVPV.  Does this mean that the Muttawa feel more confident of greater powers?  Will reforms and gains for Saudi women now take steps backward?

Why should women be punished and forced to cover their eyes because a man from the CPVPV believes her eyes are too alluring?  What is the Muttawa doing looking into women’s eyes???

What do YOU think?  Is this mandate too extreme?  Would mandating women to cover their eyes lead to other steps further isolating the Saudi woman?  How should Saudi women react?  How should an expat woman react to such an order?

During the period of time when my mother-in-law was growing up, the Saudi woman did not cover her head.  She did not wear an abaya.  She would wear a traditional thobe for women.  The CPVPV were not a force of fear.  They did not exist.  I do feel that history repeats itself and that eventually the Saudi women is going to gain her rights.  I just hope that this time will come soon.

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130 Responses

  1. I think the Saudi woman should react by confronting the religious guy with “and why are you looking at my eyes when your gaze is supposed to be lowered?!” I hope it will shame the guy into remembering Allah’s instruction for men.

  2. I did considerable research for my senior thesis in college on women and Islam. This is on top of a lot of reading over the years before that. There is nothing that says women have to cover that much of their bodies. If you ask me, men have just as much they could be covering. They just like to delude themselves into thinking women aren’t looking, which cracks me up. My poor husband didn’t know what to think when I would tell him how cute his butt is and grab it occassionally because they never discussed such things in Iraq. The fact is, women do look at these attributes everywhere, it is just that women in the Middle East don’t discuss it in front of men. Not to mention their eyes and other attributes that are looked at. Of course, no one in Muslim countries spends much time talking about how much men need to cover up.

    It is all a bunch of nonsense. It is men who can’t control themselves. No matter what a woman wears, she could be raped. It has always been men that rape others, to include other men and boys. Women are not the problem. If you ask me, they should be giving self defense classes to women as their protection rather than worrying about what they wear. I studied enough martial arts that I can take down a man twice my size and have done so. At 120 pounds I can toss a man that weighs over 200 so size doesn’t always matter. Give the male gender a good fight and they will behave properly once they know they can’t pray on what was once thought the weaker sex.

    Sorry but this whole subject annoys me to no end. It is a power trip for the CPVPV, nothing more.

  3. Good thing Susan does not live in Phoenix. I would have to be very careful with her on the prowl.

    Reminds me of an incident I witness maybe 35 years ago in the Center of Sao Paulo. A very attractive lady was coming down a street under construction (everything in Sao Paulo is always under construction) and the sidewalk was torn up and partially boarded off so only one person could pass at a time. As she was passing a man standing near said something – I didn’t hear what but it was probably not ‘boa tarde’ – well, she turned like panther and slapped him good, calling him a few choice names. What I didn’t realize, nor did the pervert, was that a little behind her were several guys – probably family. Well she landed the first whack but the guys behind her ran forward, grabbed the man, knocked him down and beat the crap out of him.

    Moral of the story: It was then I decided that admiring a pretty girl was ok, but in silence, respectfully.

  4. Only yesterday I finished reading “Dudes of War” by a soldier who spent a year in Afghanistan. He said “Ts and As” typically had another meaning for soldiers, but with so few women for them to see in Afghanistan it quickly became “toes and ankles.” He admitted to NEVER before having a thing for feet, but over there he started noticing nicely painted toenails and high heels! So even if you cover women with those dang burkhas so that their made-up eyes are not on display, men will still find *something* worth admiring.

    Not that there is anything wrong with admiring. It’s just when you have morality police forcing you to cover because you might tempt men. Yet as Susan so nicely stated, women, too, like to look! Right? :) We just usually don’t grab, rub and rape – and thankfully most men do not either.

  5. Jay, not to worry, I’m harmless until someone really ticks me off. Everyone looks, even women, it’s just a matter of being smart enough to not voice your thoughts out loud or put them into action. I nearly dislocated a Special Forces guy’s shoulder once. He swore no woman could make him cry mercy so I proved him wrong. Poor guy was sore for weeks after but hopefully he learned his lesson to never underestimate a woman. While I was in Iraq, a lot of men (Iraqi and American) looked at me and the other female soldiers. Yet I carried myself in such a way that said I’d shoot them if their looks went any further. Considering I always had a gun and bullets, it was a valid threat. No one ever went too far. In Saudi, they make their women victims because they keep them weak. Let them have confidence in their ability to handle themselves and there would be less problems. Men take advantage only when they think they can get away with it (though I’m not saying all men are bad but some are).

    Well said, Sussanne! Women are typically far better about controlling ourselves but that doesn’t mean we don’t see or think things!

  6. Such bullshit. The sad thing is, the CPVPV have plenty of support in the Kingdom, on account of people believing they are doing God’s work. My 50-something year-old aunt and her husband were enjoying a cup of coffee at a Starbucks in Riyadh, all of a sudden the CPVPV were doing a sweep to see if there were any “unlawful” couples. They actually had the audacity to accuse my aunt’s husband of being on a date with her, and he’s not one to give in. After arguing with them to no avail, he ended up handing over the identification to prove that they’re indeed married.

    It really is an odd situation there; beach houses and chalets for the rich in Jeddah have some locals frolicking around in bikinis with the opposite sex, while for the majority of Saudi citizens have to conform to these rigid laws.

    I understand the allure of eyes, but if they implement this, what’s next? You can always appreciate the form of a female figure even if it happens to be covered up, are they going to start forcing curfews for women or forbidding them to go out?

    What the fuck. I wish there was a global standard ensuring equality of the sexes, and rights of the religious and non-religious world-wide. I wish the UN was more effective, other than resolutions and condemning certain actions. I wish I was as optimistic as Carol when it comes to the situation in Saudi Arabia, but if anything I truly believe as a country we’re going to keep on regressing.

  7. good god! Unbelieveable! Why not just rid saudi of all women period! Then there is no “threat”! When will they EVER get a break form this misogyny?

  8. JC…

    Wait until Prince Nayf takes over. I think everyone will take xeveral giant steps backward ESPECIALLY women.

  9. @Carol – ‘eventually the Saudi women is going to gain her rights. I just hope that this time will come soon.’

    She’ll get her rights. Just as soon as she DEMANDS them, not a minute before!

  10. @oby

    That’s what I’m worried about. The hypocrisy of Naif is disgusting, and if he’s going to be a king after the “reformer” Abdullah passes, it’s going to be a really brutal regime.

    @Lynn
    It doesn’t help being idealistic. The women that do DEMAND their rights, are obviously shunned. Believe it or not, the majority of women are content with the status they’re living in. Wajeha Al-Huwaider is a hero of mine, because it takes monumental courage to do what she’s doing. Not just typing away on a keyboard, and copy and pasting links. She’s actually active in the reform process, yet she’s not all that highly regarded in mainstream Saudi Arabia.

  11. The mandate to cover the eyes is crazy..r they serious? why not focus on the jam packed orphanages or the homeless or the widowed living in women’s shelters..arrr what a menial topic..a freakin eye?
    I don’t think covering of the eye would isolate saudi woman at all..they would just go on about life the same as now…most cover their faces so another 2 cm of material won’t change their social life..but its the difference with being able to choose and then being forced to do something that is unfair.
    As far as expat woman go..do they even count? Im sure if the order went through it would exclude expats women workers…all together..

    “During the period of time when my mother-in-law was growing up, the Saudi woman did not cover her head. She did not wear an abaya. She would wear a traditional thobe for women. ”
    Is that because she was a bedu? and didn’t need to cos there are no non-realted men living in close proximity to her in the desert..so she could walk around wearing what ever she wanted really..but apart from that if there were visitors and un-related men approaching women would cover..including the face..(from a 85-90yr old saudi woman’s mouth)..

  12. @JC, I think Wajeha would be more popular if she wasn’t Shia. It’s too bad but there it is.

    Many Mutawwa can be confronted- but not all. They’ve asked me to cover my hair and I’ve told them “no” and kept walking. But I always have in mind the ones like in this article who may pull a knife or throw me in prison. Overall though, women can gage the situation and sometimes get away with standing up to them. One of the times they yelled at the person with me (my hair was actually covered- bad hair day!) and terrified her- I actually uncovered my hair at that point and shouted “no”. I don’t know if he heard- but the policeman following him through the shopping center translating his remarks into English turned around and looked at me and started laughing- then kept going! I bet he hated working with that guy.

  13. JC, you know, of course, what the guys yell in a Saudi strip bar….

    “Show me your ankles, show me your ankles”

  14. Woehahahahahahaaaaa!

  15. Are the for real?? Cover their eyes?? WOW!!! they are really nuts over there?? what does that teach their society?? that women not only are not allowed to vote or drive and now they are not allowed to show their eyes?? WTF!!!
    Really these men are crazy!! why don’t men cover their eyes then!!
    Saudi men LOVE to stare at women, they should be covering theirs!
    Staring at women’s crotches and breasts when they come to America.
    This is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard!! what’s next??? cover the ears so they won’t hear?? That is just ridiculous!!

  16. @JC – ‘Believe it or not, the majority of women are content with the status they’re living in.’

    Then that is fine, I hope they remain happy. But for the other ones, the ones that are NOT, then they need to stand up for themselves. Why should she care about how high she is regarded in a society that she can’t (or shouldn’t imo) respect?

    You say that you admire the bravery of Wajeha Al-Huwaider. Do you say that publicly? What do you mean when you say she isn’t all that highly regarded? Don’t you think there is a possibility that there are others that also admire her and perhaps could be inspired by her?

  17. @Lynn
    I do say that publicly. You have the comfort of speaking without any consequences. People that I love and respect, do not speak to me anymore. I don’t shy away from my beliefs or convictions, I’m a Saudi citizen. The only reason I’m here in school (which I absolutely abhor), is that I might make a better life for the love of my life. I’m okay if it doesn’t work out; at the end of day I’m Saudi, my family knows my opinions, the majority don’t speak to me. That’s why I’ll always have faith in America, one thing I took away from all the lessons I’ve been taught, is not to shy away from your beliefs no matter the consequences.

  18. @jay

    You’ve got a couple of years on me, eh I’m being nice; I’m sure it’s plenty. I wish my father had your sense of humor.

  19. @Aafke

    Yup, you’re exactly right, which is why if I ever have a family I can’t raise them there. I do not want my daughters being ashamed of their bodies, or their gender. I’m not old, I’m not young either. All I know is I can’t raise my family in Saudi Arabia, if I’m blessed with girls; I want to teach them to drive stick, I want to go to the beach with them, even if they’re dressed in swim suits. I can’t do that in Saudi without dropping a couple of grand on a chalet, I don’t have the financial means.. People are surprised that I’m pale, because I don’t come from a tribal family, they assume we’re all bred from slaves because we can’t pinpoint our roots. In all honesty, I am related to a slave from my father’s side, that doesn’t phase me.I don’t understand how all the crazies can immigrate so easily, and I’m having such a hard time.

  20. Ummm, now that’s really sad.

    Religiously speaking it’s permissible to uncover the face; hijab is good enough if the woman believes it’s not mondatory to wear niqab. Thus, If Islam has given us the choice to wear or not to wear niqab, why would anyone force her to do something against her will?

    Also…

    Culturally speaking it’s ok to uncover the eyes, and women in the western region have the freedom to wear only hijab, or even go hijabless (not supporting that, just saying;)). So, if the society accepts and respects the woman’s choice then why would anyone use their power to force her to cover this bit or that?

    “What is the Muttawa doing looking into women’s eyes???” You hit the nail on the head. What happened to the religious obligation to lower the gaze for both sexes… oh well, he is a MAN…

    Sad…

  21. Personally, I think Saudi men are hiding behind “their woman’s Abaya!,” they are the ones who cannot control their thoughts and lusts, because while they cover their women from head to toe, it might stop them from gawking at Saudi women, but it sure does not stop them from lusting and gawking at western women who do not comply to these rules.
    Saudi Men need self control ,they need to man up and control them selves and stop being a bunch of losers by expecting the stronger self controlled species {known as women} to do the job for them by covering up!
    U{ SAUDI MEN } May not see your friends wives eyes when they are looking at u so alluring but believe me all those covered eyes are looking back and not all are with love but contempt.

    It is no different to telling someone who is on a diet “you may not have that cake” and then dangle it in front of them.

    The quicker Saudi men start to control themselves and let women wear practical attire so that they can gawk at all women and get over it,the quicker women will stop feeling like bait or a a stumbling block for SAUDI MEN’S SINFUL THOUGHTS,and everyone will be happy and trusting.
    THE WAY IT STANDS now, Saudi men being suspicious of Saudi ladies, and vise versa, will never go away, and sin shall prevail instead of ceasing, and THAT IS NOT WHAT was intended for man, we all get jealous and want things in life but we learn to control our mind and body ,what makes Saudi men different is that they think they do not have to control themselves and their mind,s but want to control women to do what they should be doing.

    I am not saying ALL SAUDI men are this way, there are some who are more open minded and aware that it takes two to sin and a lot of effort to just look away but the difference is they step up and THEY DO it!

    As soon as THE CULTURE HERE realizes we all struggle as a human race with desire and sin full thoughts,but we try to deal with these things in our daily lives so we can confront them and grow and mature and become stronger better people as was intended for us.

    THE LONGER THIS STATE of SIN IS HIDDEN UNDER ABAYA’S THE LONGER IT WILL STAY AND CORRUPT MORE AND MORE GENERATIONS.

  22. Blech. Why in gods name do Saudi put up with “morality” police. This is worse then that stupid cleric that said women should cover one eye for the same reason. Do they feed them stupidity pills? As another said….sad.

    In a religion that states there is no compulsion in religion why need morality police? Iran and KSA are the two countries that have them. I believe the Taliban did too. So strong “Islamic” country equal “morality” police. Why?

  23. I believe that Saudi men I should be insulted that it is assumed that a man cannot control himself in the presense of a woman. Separation, coverings,etc power disguised as concern. I also believe that if more men would take a stand things would change. Hats off to this woman husband a true man.

  24. This type of thing saddens me, but at the same time reminds me how blessed I am to be an American. I really wish U.S. immigration laws were more sensible, though.

    @JC- I wish you the best with immigration.

  25. JC…I may have missed it earlier, but I am wondering if you are a man or woman? If you prefer not to say that is fine. I ask because I feel that for women it is an entirely different Saudi than the ones the men can experience. If men had those restrictions on them for even a week I think that might go a long way to eliminating it. Either way, your story is very moving(what you have shared) and I hope all the best for you.

  26. All this lust and obsession with sex they suffer from in KSA is actually caused by their unnatural segregation of the sexes, and their mental obsession with covering up female bodyparts.
    In cultures where nudity is normal men are a lot less obsessed with female bodies. They are causing a problem and trying to stench it by increasing the cause for the problem.
    Veiling is imitating the kuffar anyway, it was a pre-islamic Jewish custom for elite women.

    And if god wanted to hide our human skin she would have let us keep the fur of our ancestors. So apparently it is gods will that we all walk around naked (when weather permits) and it’s quite probable that all those people going against gods will will go to hell for covering their god-given-bodies.

  27. We all know that KSA is “special”. I know how it could change. The women could do it and it’s worked in other areas of the world. Withhold SEX!!! Women have to be united though and there has to be a campaign. If husbands were refused sex until they forced some leniency on the rules then life would be much better. Wishful thinking though. The women don’t have the guts to do it.

    Carol, my husband’s mother and her friends did not cover other than their thobe when he was a little boy in the very late ’40′s and early 50′s.

  28. My wife and her sister (Saudi’s) were in the family section of Starbucks. Both had their veils up (off) enjoying their coffee’s and time visiting. A solitary long & short Mutawa (long beard – short thobe) came in and demanded they cover thier faces! The sister did immediately – my wife elected the “did not” route. Eventually after plenty of manly screaming – he left.

    I think this was just one warped mutawa’s excuse to get a free eyefull of bare faced girls or to vent his pent up rage at someone helpless to adequately retaliate.

    Islamic principles have been crushed by purely cultural principles. Which to me, makes culture the religion which these guys follow – not Islam.

  29. @SaudiWomen,
    FYI- ‘Religiously speaking’ there are also many that believe it is permissible to uncover their hair as well as their face.

  30. @JC – ‘People that I love and respect, do not speak to me anymore. I don’t shy away from my beliefs or convictions, I’m a Saudi citizen.’

    Do you really respect them? WHY? How could you respect people that clearly do not reciprocate or they would not shun you for your opinions.

    ‘That’s why I’ll always have faith in America, one thing I took away from all the lessons I’ve been taught, is not to shy away from your beliefs no matter the consequences.’

    You are confusing me. What did you mean originally when you said ‘It doesn’t help being idealistic. The women that do DEMAND their rights, are obviously shunned.’ ?

    That sounded to me like you would NOT encourage women to demand their rights. Is that what you were saying? If it is then how could you at the same time be proud that you’ve been taught not to shy away from your beliefs?

  31. I guess its time for saudi women to decide for them selves whats good and whats bad ..these women are not like other women of other countreis they are they best innocent and know the deen ..

    The saudis are too protective of their women lol i wish i take away one of their women and make her mine for ever insha allah

  32. ana.hindi ,

    i wonder how will the see whats in front .. i too will pretend not to see in front and dahs a few lol

  33. and there was no case for hitting … well hospitalising a innocent man ..
    imagine a stranger saying some ones wife “”how to dress in front of him “”lol

  34. @Oby

    I guess I do type like a chick. I’m a guy hah.

    @Lynn

    I do respect people, because I know the circumstances they were raised in. They are the same people that took care of me when I was younger, be it financially or emotionally. They can ignore me for now, but I’m banking on the fact that time truly does mend all wounds. I don’t respect because out of some blind family obligation, I respect them because at one point they respected me, and hopefully they’ll see that a man’s religion or lack of does not define him.

    Obviously you’re the only one that’s having a hard time “getting” my words, and I keep on confusing you. Where did I say that they shouldn’t demand their rights? No one else is nitpicking over my words, you’re looking for an argument with there is no argument to be made. I have faith in America because even if you hold a widely unpopular opinion, you are encouraged to hold true to your beliefs, even if people don’t agree with it. The women that do want change should keep on keeping, it’s not going to change the fact that the majority of women are content with their status. You can definitely have the last word, no skin off my teeth.

    @Wendy

    It’s not that the women do not have guts, people really forget that a large number of them are content with their status. It’s pretty much tyranny of the majority. A campaign of withholding sex from their husbands would be widely unsuccessful, no one wants angels cursing them for denying their husbands a romp.

  35. @Aafke
    “Veiling is imitating the kuffar anyway, it was a pre-islamic Jewish custom for elite women.”

    It’s difficult when the practice of veiling started, but it’s documented that the prophets wives were all kept from male eyes. In some cases it would be behind a silk screen, or a natural cover.

    While I’m sure it’s a Jewish custom as well, which is where Islam gets most of its inspiration from. I take issue with the use of kuffar here, the early Islamic movement was an ecumenical one, which is document by a brilliant Islamic scholar Fred Donner, I suggest your read the book.

    Early on in Mohammad’s movement he was a hanif, who practiced the Abrahamic tradition of monotheism. Donner argues that the use of the world “believers” is more prevalent in the Qur’an as opposed to Muslim, which is the identity of the adherents of the Islamic faith now. Believers is thought to include people of the Jewish faith, the Christian faith (the ones that do not believe in a trinity), and later on it went to include Zoroastrians. Some scholars argue that Islam as we know it now is do the salvation history (I forgot the German word for it). That the hadiths, and in general the Islamic tradition as a whole was developed by the motivation of Marwan b. ‘Abd al-Malik, who actually commissioned one is his brutal governors to comply the Qur’an again based on the Uthmanic codice. This action in itself was a way for ‘Abd al-Malik to seal the Umayyd name in positive terms, and that’s why certain scholars believe he was a key figure in shaping the Islamic polity, and the identity of the religion. The stories of Mohammad share very common narratives with the main prophets of the two religions that preceded Islam; this is coming from a time when great empires were born out religion, which is why it’s theorized that Mohammad and his stories were concocted to give the growing Islamic empire a distinct identity of its own.

  36. From the story when the men who harrassed the wives of the prophet, claiming they did not realize they were not common or slave women, and the subsequent irder that the wmen cover with their cloacks it is clear that the wives of the prophet did not cover. Only elite Jewish women at that period veiled, common or slave women were not allowed to veil.
    In the beginning of Islam slave women held or made or traded by the muslims were also prohibited to veil. It is clearly a cultural status symbol, only adapted later by the wives of the prophet, to emulate the elite Jewish women. When Mohammed thought it a good idea to cover up his women, and to have them secluded (only happened later on when he became jealous) then he of course got another revelation by Allah.

    Anyway, I think it’s a clear sign of human (male) invention, when a ”god” suddenly gets all riled up about covering women up.

  37. It wasn’t only elite Jewish women who veiled. Elite Chinese women did as well. And the Byzantiums- which if I correctly recall is where the Arabs got hold of the idea. It was certainly a widespread idea back then. A man of wealth could keep his wife in a certain style- not out doing manual labor. The Muslim/Arab women wanted to be identified as high class as well- which explains why Muslim slave women wouldn’t be able to cover because they were not elite.

    The Christians around Muhammed believed in the divinity of Christ and were staunch Trinitarians- including the Copts- with whom they intermarried, the Eithiopean Christians with whom the Prophet sought refuge and the Christians of Najran who were allowed to pray in the Mosque. It would seem indeed that they qualify as believers.

  38. Sorry, JC, I’m NOT looking for an argument, just a clear answer to my question to help me understand your comment, that’s all. Would you rather I just took it the way I am leaning even if I had misunderstood you? :-) I think it IS a language problem (or perhaps just a brain thing with me). So, would you, or would you not encourage a Saudi woman who is not happy with her ‘rights’ to go against the grain or even protest to try to gain her rights? Would you/did you support your female family members to drive in KSA? America should not factor in in your response here but, you kind of are wrong when you say ‘I have faith in America because even if you hold a widely unpopular opinion, you are encouraged to hold true to your beliefs, even if people don’t agree with it.’ Trust me, people can be shunned from their families for their personal beliefs just as well here ;-)

  39. Mohammed ordered his wives to cover using divine guidance simply because some of the men were using them as an excuse to cause trouble for his cause. As in..his message couldn’t be all that god inspired if his wives could flounce around in regular arab female clothing and freely talk with men…oh no..they needed too look spiritual as well to fullfill their roles as followers and wives of a prophet to prop up the validity of the prophet. Once again females are thrown under the bus to further the cause of the male ego.

  40. @Lynn

    “You are encouraged to hold true to your beliefs, even if people don’t agree with it.”

    That embodies the American spirit to me, and I feel that’s the backbone of what America was built on. Take a look at the recent “It Gets Better” campaign; the idea came to fruition after the suicides of homosexuals due to bullying, or being shunned by their families. Homosexuality is still relatively an unpopular idea here in America, and supporting it is going against the grain. Yet there is still a platform to debate, and discuss it which is encouraged by a majority. So it could be a matter of opinion, but that’s how I view America.

    As to your questions. I think I made it pretty obvious that I do support the few women and men that do speak out in Saudi Arabia, especially when I referenced my admiration of Wajeha Al-Huwaider.

    So what is it exactly that you’re trying to understand?

  41. I agree with Lynn (be still my heart)…haven’t spoken with some of my family in awhile now..because..even though they haven’t been religious a day in their lives..my throwing off the shackles of religion inspired them to rediscover their god love..and thus..find me beyond redemption. Gotta love religion…it can snuff out family love like nothing else on this planet.

  42. @Coolred- My dad’s wife was agnostic until she joined the Tea Party, then became an evangelical Christian. She was copying posts from Pamela Geller’s blog on her facebook, which is an anti-islam hate site. (I’m all for critical thinking criticism, not hate). Dragged my dad to the NYC mosque protest…etc. Needless to say, I will not have my Muslim children in her presence. Stupid. stupid. stupid. I hear you.

  43. @Kristine – ‘My dad’s wife was agnostic until she joined the Tea Party, then became an evangelical Christian’

    LOL I have to wonder what the heck they put in that tea! My SIL has been sounding more and more unthinkingly religious since joining the tea party as well (well, at least all her ‘forwards’ have sounded that way).

  44. Not all members of the Tea Party are evangelical Christian, nor do they all hate Muslims. The Tea Party are a group of people who want the stupid spending in Washington to stop. Bridges to nowhere, study of Ladies of the night in China and how liquor affects them. Most people think the far Right evangelicals are as nuts as those who think women should cover their eyes, or those in America who are far Left. You might ask your dad why he hates, more than likely does not have a real reason or an answer.

  45. @crantode

    Maybe you can shed some light on a question that’s been bugging me recently. Why would the tea party be against OWS?

  46. I have a few Tea Party members in my family. Some of them refuse to speak to me anymore because I turned my back on Chrisitanity and married a Muslim. That is fine with me since anyone who can’t accept me as I am, even family, isn’t worth dealing with anyway. Itold them where theycould take their opinions and haven’t spoken to them since. On the other hand, my father is agnostic and a Tea party supporter (he even goes to some of the rallies and meetings). Yet he and my husband get along great and spend time together regularly. So it varies among the members, but you are more likely to find Evangelicals in the Tea Party than anywhere else. At least that is how it is in the part of the country I live in.

  47. Crantode- I am aware of that, that the tea party started primarily as a taxation or spending protest. It is curious though how it seems in so many ways to have merged with the far religious right. I don’t think it’s my father who hates, rather than his taking the path of least resistance. His spouse has a powerful personality and it is often like walking on eggshells around her. Before my mom passed away , my husband and I did interfaith dialogue at our church, and he was always proud of his saudi son-in-law and grandchildren. It’s just sad and frustrating how people can get so carried away with ideology (any ideology) that it damages relationships.

  48. About this topic though, I think this is a terrible step backward. Or on a postive note, maybe the winds of change are stirring, and this is just the last bellowings of someone desparately grasping for the reigns of control?

  49. I think on the whole KSA is going backwards. Over the last 5 decades things have been going backwards for women and I see no discernible steps forward, women’s rights have been diminished, dress restrictions have been enhanced, and freedoms have been taken away.

  50. So, I’m getting that there are a lot of non-muslims here married to Saudis. Didn’t know that!
    On another note, it seems to me that the MORE the world criticizes KSA, the more laws and prohibitions they intend to implement, if not only to portray how powerful they REALLY are on the world’s stage.
    This is NOT a positive thing, as the hypocrisy is blinding! As a muslim, and not having always been politically aware, my greatest disappointment is when I hear that some of the things I find atrocious, are “Saudi backed.” And, unfortunately, they are not going to cease by us objecting to them here.

    Jews, Christians & Sabians are considered People of the Book, so NOT considered kuffar.

  51. @Robin – ‘And, unfortunately, they are not going to cease by us objecting to them here.’

    Absolutely true, that is why I said ‘She’ll get her rights. Just as soon as she DEMANDS them, not a minute before!’

  52. @Lynn

    Again, the few women that have been demanding, did not get their rights. A friendly suggestion, and a personal favorite of mine, check out John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty”. If you can’t find a copy online, I’ll be more than happy to mail you mine, or scan it for you.

  53. Could be alast gasp befor ethey give in adnhand women their rights or could be taking the country backwards, Who can tell.

    Apart from sympathy and moral support and help if they come here there is nothing we ( or atleast I) can do for those women.. their country their fight . hope they succeed.

  54. JC, Again, would you, or would you not encourage a Saudi woman who is not happy with her ‘rights’ to go against the grain or even protest to try to gain her rights? Would you/did you support your female family members to drive in KSA? That is a personal question that reading a book or essay of someone else who has never lived in your shoes can not answer.

  55. @Lynn.

    I’ve made it explicitly obvious that I would, where did I mention that I wouldn’t? Just to make it absolutely clear, yes I would “support your[my] female family members to drive in KSA”, and yes “encourage a Saudi woman who is not happy with her ‘rights’ to go against the grain or even protest to try to gain her rights”. It’s still worth checking out that book I recommended, Mill is from the 18th century but his ideas and works are relevant till this day.

  56. Kristine, It si my belief that the idea that those in the Tea Party and by the way I am not a member are being protrayed as religious right by much of the press. Most Americans I believe, are right in the middle. Today with 24 hours news the press has to make it interesting and entertaining for the masses. There will always be some idiot in any crowd that the press will point out to make some point. What you say about your dad is true, the person you share your bed with is the one you must keep peace with. I am sure you dad loves your family just wait and see. As soon as the stupid sillyness goes away which I hope will be soon , he will be asking to visit with you and your children as well as your husband. You might want to remind him that life is os so short and because of religious differences he is missing out of a great deal. All the best to you Kristine.

  57. JC Since I am not a Tea Party member i can only speculate in my answer, but it is not the message that the OWS protest first wanted to get out that the Tea Party is against. It is the idea that you can pitch a tent make a mess and demand thngs claiming that everyone is on your side that is annoying. The interesting thing is that both the Tea Party and OWA had in the beginning has pretty much the same message Corruption in government , s[pecial interests and a Wall Street out of control. What many, including myself, get annoyed at is protest but when you take it too far you loose the masses. Point was made then go home come out the nest day. Don’t annoy those trying to go to work, or take away business from those who own businesses trying to eaqrn a living. When you get carried away you loo0se the people behind you and that is what is happening with the OWS protest. This class warfare is not what the USA is about .

  58. @JC – ‘I’ve made it explicitly obvious that I would’

    Well, CLEARLY you didn’t because I wasn’t sure what you were trying to get at with this comment and you never did answer me what you meant by it.

    You said ‘@Lynn
    It doesn’t help being idealistic. The women that do DEMAND their rights, are obviously shunned. Believe it or not, the majority of women are content with the status they’re living in. Wajeha Al-Huwaider is a hero of mine, because it takes monumental courage to do what she’s doing. Not just typing away on a keyboard, and copy and pasting links. She’s actually active in the reform process, yet she’s not all that highly regarded in mainstream Saudi Arabia.’

    It sounded, to me, like you wanted to DIScourage Saudi women from following her example because she is ‘not highy regarded’.

  59. i sometimes read this post and wonder how people can say woman must demand their rights. Yes, it usually does no good to just sit at home or grip on a blog, but you need to have the assistance of those in power to move ahead.In this instance the male population of SA. The right to vote, if it takes place, will be the biggest step in pushing back against unfair practices. In my opinion it is not that easy to go against society because many say it does not affect me so I don’t care. On the other hand many ask themselves what would happen to me and my family if i step out of line too much. Would I be willing, would you be willing, to take a chance? Those who have the nerve, deserve the credit and respect, but those who do not should not be looked down upon either.

  60. @Crantode – ‘those who do not should not be looked down upon either.’

    And neither should they complain.

    You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem.

  61. And I suggested a way to get what you all want. :)

  62. Wendy, the only problem is that men are not limited to their ‘one wife’ for sex. ‘You won’t give me sex, FINE, I’ll go buy myself a new one’ or perhaps he would just spend more time with his ‘best buddy’.

    But still, I think there is no one who could make a man’s life more miserable than a wife can. ;-)

  63. This whole conversation about women’s rights seems rather silly to me. For one thing, those women commenting on here from the United States and other western countries have had to do very little in their lifetimes to get their rights. It was the women before us that fought for them. It’s easy to criticize Saudi women when you’ve never had to risk your life, family, and reputation just to get the right to vote or drive.

    I can’t speak for other countries, but I feel a lot of American women, particularly the feminists these days are not doing all they can either. Why? Because we still haven’t passed the ratified the equal rights amendment. One reason is because that means women would be eligible for the draft. God forbid they actually had to put their lives on the line for their country. So if women want equal rights, then they better be willing to take the risks that come with them. Don’t criticize Saudi women about not fighting for their rights if you have never done so yourself.

    It pains me to see how oppressed they are, but not many people (male or female) have the courage to stand up for themselves when the risks are so high. I won’t judge them, but I do applaud those that find the courage to fight for their rights and I pray their efforts are enough that one day they win what they are working toward.

  64. Nice comment Susan A.

  65. Susan, now THERE’S a perspective!!

  66. I am sorry but Iwas one the women who in the 1960′s fought for the rights that women in the USA have today. Not having your own credit not getting paid for a job the same as a man ,not being able to wear slacks to work even in the winter, and a time when abuse was concidered a family matter. All of this was not that long ago. If you want equal rights you do have to demand them but in the USA even in the 1960′s was there the kind of sexism the there seems to be in SA. I do think that those who profess that you cannot complain because you won’t take action are mistaken. The more you may complain the more people will hear you and although you may not feel confident enought to act you will know that there are other that feel the same way that you do. I was one that fouight to get the rights but even today I can see the other side of the issue. One should not be too judgemental of another.

  67. Crantode, I agree that there were some battles for rights in the 1960s (many of them still not fullfilled such as equal pay) but I do not believe the risks women took at that time in America were nearly as large as the ones Saudi women have today. If you want a more accurate comparison, you would have to go back to the early 1900s in America and before that when the risks for women were much higher.

  68. @Susan A – ‘God forbid they actually had to put their lives on the line for their country. So if women want equal rights, then they better be willing to take the risks that come with them.’

    Are you kidding me? http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/army/a/femalesoldiers.htm

    And when was the last time that the ‘draft’ was even used? We have an ALL volunteer military full of men, women and now even openly GAYS.

    I agree with Crantode ‘The more you may complain the more people will hear you and although you may not feel confident enought to act you will know that there are other that feel the same way that you do.’

    A person does not need to have ‘fought for their rights’ to appreciate the effort that it took to get them. That is the beauty of history, people can LEARN from it IF they are willing.

    ‘It pains me to see how oppressed they are, but not many people (male or female) have the courage to stand up for themselves when the risks are so high.’

    I’ve already stated that it doesn’t pain me because I know that IF they want to not be oppressed they DO have the power to make it so. How HIGH exactly are these ‘risks’. I have not seen anything too bad having happened to those women that drove their cars around and you would have thought from all those words of DIScouragement that they’d all be languishing is some rape infested prison never seeing their families again. But, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Whatever, when the women of Saudi Arabia really WANT their freedom, they will take it. I have NO doubt about that.

  69. @Susan – ‘I do not believe the risks women took at that time in America were nearly as large as the ones Saudi women have today.’

    Why do you say that?

  70. Lynn, I served in the US Army for eleven years and deployed to Iraq twice. I’m far more aware than most women of what it is like to put my life on the line for something greater than myself. I’ve had bullets, rockets, morters and other explosives sent my way. I’m now on thirty percent disability because of injuries sustained while in the military. This is why I’m not so critical of those who are afraid to stand up. I have faced real danger and know what it feels like. No amount of reading can prepare you for that, but I agree you can respect what has been done in the past, even if you can’t relate to it.

    As for risks Saudi women face, here is a recent article dealing with their efforts to get the right to drive. One woman is receiving lashes for having driven without permission. I wouldn’t call that a mild punishment. It also discusses women who have been jailed for the same crime. How much research have you really done into this matter?

    http://mashable.com/2011/09/27/saudi-woman-lashes-driving-ban

    I’m not saying you can’t encourage Saudi women to fight for their rights. All I’m saying is I disagree with talking down about those that don’t. Not everyone wants to be a hero.

  71. I spent my childhood living with a psycho labeled father… I know what it means to fight for your survival on a daily basis. To say that american women have no clue these days what it means is crazy. Women ALL over the world have to fight for their right to…anything…everything…nothing…on a daily basis…even if just in ordinary little ways that men take for granted. It doesnt necessarily have to be life threatening (though often it is…or at the very least in abusive situations..perceived to be)…all women have their battles they must fight every day of their lives simply for being women. Right now Saudi women (hell all women in islamic countries) have to choose whether this fight is worth their time and effort…the fact that they havent yet collectively decided it’s worth it may be the reason the men in those countries take such liberties. Who knows…if the women actually decided now was the time and took steps to acheive that…possibly the men would cave in. You never know until you try.

    ex: there was this arab guy one time that was causing a lot of grief for a girl…thought he could just because he was a male and she was female and who the hell would care. Well…I changed his mind about what women are capable of…and who cares..when I went up to him and punched him in the nose..broke his nose..my finger…and crushed whatever illusions he had about what it means to be a man compared to a “helpless less than” female. (wrote about it on my blog btw) In this case..it only took ONE woman to change his mindset..imagine if a whole bunch of them decided to teach him a lesson…happy thought there.

  72. Thank you for your service Susan and another good post. I believe Manal al Sharif also was facing losing custody of her son if she pursued things. That would certainly put me off. Men hold incredible power over women here. They can often bring a woman into line- and I can’t fault the women when that happens. It is generally those with supportive families that are really pushing things.

  73. Coolred…

    Read that post…omg! funny as hell. The way you wrote it I felt like I was standing right beside you when you took his face out! I don’t know if you meant it to be funny but it was so enjoyable as well as the part that followed about your sister in law in the car ( I think)…great read!

  74. I agree with Sandy, I think Saudi women are definitely in a worse and far more precarious position than our suffragette ancestors when they fought for our rights. They also suffered and some died, but I think it is impossible to really realize the complete serfdom under which Saudi women live. The complete nothingness to which women are delegated. The complete absence of basic human rights.

    And for a woman without great support of a family with power and influence I believe it is impossible to really stand up and fight for their rights. So the actual numbers of women who are in a position to ”stand up” is very small, support from men is very small, and of that percentage which maybe has the possibility to stand and fight, there is a percentage prefer to benefit by supporting the current slavery system. If you comply, and speak for your masters, there will be immediate rewards and no danger and hardship. Humans aren’t all noble and courageous, that’s only a small percentage. And I would think that most girls are trained to be obedient and submissive, as that is such a highly regarded ”virtue” for females. So you are really left with a tiny tiny percentage of activists.

  75. @Susan A – I don’t understand why you, having served in the military would have said something like this ‘God forbid they actually had to put their lives on the line for their country. So if women want equal rights, then they better be willing to take the risks that come with them.’

    ALSO, if you want to talk about the lashing penalty then you should talk about the fact that the KING overturned it!!

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/201754.html

    Another thing, I wasn’t ‘talking down’ those who aren’t fighting for their rights. I am only talking down those who DIScourage them by playing on their fears.

  76. King overturned it, but the JUDGE then overturned that! I thought King trumped judge. No one knows what happened.

    http://zakisafar.com/2011/11/13/despite-king%E2%80%99s-pardon-judge-plans-to-proceed-with-lashing-sentence-against-woman-driver/

  77. And they served her the papers anyway. The judge hasn’t stopped, and I am wondering if she really was pardoned. We all are. She has one month I believe to appeal her sentance- we’ll see what happens.

    But speaking for myself- it wouldn’t be fear of some jail time or lashing (bad as that would be)- it would be fear of what my male owner might do (not me specifically, but women in general here must consider this). Definately part of my decision to drive that day was the age of my children. Not super-dependent on me and they understand the situation. They would not be shamed. I would not want to drag my husband into the problems it could create. It is easy to say, “why not? he has all the rights” but he also has a lot of dependants including me and more importantly my children. When he volunteered to ride shotgun that definately made it easier. I also had to consider would I damage the cause if I, as a foreigner were caught?

    There are a multitude of things people consider in these situation. ALso the fact that court cases are never over. Shaima was caught BEFORE Manal al Sharif. She was already sentanced to a fine. It was over. Then suddenly she’s sentenced to lashing- then supposedly she’s pardoned, they suddenly she’s served with papers for her lashing. She was never trying to make a political statment- she was trying to get to a hospital. It’s all really just a mess.

  78. @Robin – Talk to me AFTER someone is lashed or otherwise severely punished. Until that happens all these fears are for naught and should NOT be used to discourage someone from fighting for their rights.

  79. And it is not only the women who get punished, If they want they can punish her whole family, her husband can loose his job, this is a really bad situation for women, ànd their families. It is an almost impossible situation to get out of. Every woman, and every man/family supporting her is risking a lot. And if you have young children, don’t you think those children should be considered?

  80. Btw, there are some women in KSA who get this mysterious disease, they fall into an unexplained coma, and then they die. A few years a go the blogger Hadeel succumbed to this mysterious disease, and lately the poetess Mastoora Al Ahmadi died, she was a young woman. And now she is dead. From a heart problem, slipped into a coma, and died. That seems to happen a lot to troublesome people in KSA.
    Stuff can be happening we have no idea of.

  81. @Aafke – ‘Stuff can be happening we have no idea of.’

    Sure, but I highly doubt it.

  82. Sandy, thank you and I agree with the things you’re saying. I’ve spent enough time in the Middle East (not just Iraq) to understand the basic idea of how little women can do to help themselves. It is very frustrating to see how difficult it is to make headway there.

  83. Lynn, I said what i did because I’m tired of women who never served their country using us women who have as proof they deserve equal rights. Go serve as well, then come back and talk to me. The military isn’t an easy place to be. It’s not all sunshine and roses. You actually have to prove yourself with actions, not just words. It’s tough. Many men don’t want you there and they make things difficult. Every day in Iraq you risk being raped by your comrades. They all look at you like you’re a juicy steak they want to eat. I’m fully aware that American men can be every bit as bad as the Arabs once they are taken out of our freedom filled environment amd thrown into the Middle East. Do you know the VA hospitals have had to create seperate clinics with all female staff for women veterans because the instances of sexual assault were so high in the military?

    You keep talking about how you’re not seeing the risks involved for Saudi women, but what you fail to understand is the worst stuff often never makes it to the news. I know how easy it is to cover up things you don’t want the media finding out about. For every incident you hear on the news, there are at least ten more that never get reported. This ratio is probably even higher for SA where they can control the media better. I have read biographies on Saudi women where they could anonymously discuss these things. In one, it spoke of a woman being locked into a building by herself as punishment until she died. Her family quietly burried her after she passed on. Many things don’t get out due to the rigid control of the country.

  84. ‘Lynn, I said what i did because I’m tired of women who never served their country using us women who have as proof they deserve equal rights. Go serve as well, then come back and talk to me.’

    Seriously? WTF are you talking about? Who the hell said ANYthing about YOU being PROOF of anything that I deserve?

    You sound a bit bitter about your ‘service’ or something. I don’t understand that at all considering that we have an all VOLUNTEER military. Clearly you thought that the benefits were worth the risk. I’m sorry if your gamble didn’t quite pay off for you but you certainly are NOT any more entitled to your constitutional rights than anyone else in this country and I think you are a disgrace to your uniform to insinuate that you are. My brother served in the US Army but he can’t even VOTE here since he isn’t a US Citizen. What do you think of that?

  85. I didn’t say I was proof. You like to twist everyone’s words. I said female soldiers in general. I’m not bitter about my service. I’m proud of it, but I don’t like someone who never served using my actions and those of other brave women as justification while having done nothing themselves. You don’t just have to of served in the military. There are many ways to prove women are equals outside of that. The fact is you sit there talking of what others should do, but what have you ever done in your life to help the female cause that was more than words?

    My superiors would beg to differ with you about me being a disgrace to my service. I have plenty of outstanding awards, decorations, and evaluations that say otherwise. You don’t know me so don’t talk blindly like you do. The fact is that every time someone disagrees with you on here you come at them with nothing but rudeness and insults because that is all you’re capable of. Talk.

    I’m really at a loss for how you interpreted me saying women who have not served don’t deserve constitutional rights. There was nothing in my words to that effect. I said if you want to use those of use who served as an example, then you should have served as well. That is it.

    As for your brother, if he served in the US military for more than three years, he should be able to vote. Citizenship is expedited for those who serve. If a person chooses to join the military that is not a citizen, they know there is a time table for it. Not like the Army hides that fact. I met plenty of others during my service who were under similar circumstances.

  86. ‘but I don’t like someone who never served using my actions and those of other brave women as justification while having done nothing themselves’

    I didn’t see ANYone using YOUR actions as justification for ANYthing so I just don’t know WHAT you are trying to get at. What would your actions in the service of the United States of America have ANYthing at all to do with women’s rights either here or in KSA? What have YOU done in your life to help the female cause? Hmmm?

    My brother(s) (3 of them served). one became a citizen, one was born here and the other never opted to get his citizenship, I never said that he couldn’t get it just that he doesn’t have the right to vote even though he served 4 years. Point being, serving this country does NOT automatically entitle you to special rights as you seem to imply that it does.

  87. ‘I’m really at a loss for how you interpreted me saying women who have not served don’t deserve constitutional rights. There was nothing in my words to that effect. I said if you want to use those of use who served as an example, then you should have served as well. That is it.’

    No, what you said was:

    ‘Lynn, I said what i did because I’m tired of women who never served their country using us women who have as proof they deserve equal rights. Go serve as well, then come back and talk to me.’

    But again, I never saw anyone using those of you that have served in the military as an example of anything. My examples for women fighting for rights are more along the likes of Susan B Anthony and Rosa Parks.

  88. @Susan A.

    I’m sorry but that is not fair. “They all look at you like you’re a juicy steak they want to eat. I’m fully aware that American men can be every bit as bad as the Arabs once they are taken out of our freedom filled environment amd thrown into the Middle East.”

    Even in a freedom filled environment, rapes, and various assaults on women and men do occur. Both genders can be just as bad, whether it’s a tightly segregated society, or a freedom filled one. It’s not really an Arab man in comparison to an American man, and same goes for the women. At the end of the day people can be just as equally shitty, or equally good.

  89. “Every day in Iraq you risk being raped by your comrades. They all look at you like you’re a juicy steak they want to eat.’/..

    i wonder what ppl are thinking of susan’s comment which portray “perfect” america/americans as something its not…and showing that all men no matter what religion/culture can be pervs..and hey you guys don’t even segregate (except for the VA hospital as mentioned) and men are all hungry for women..whats your excuse then?

  90. I’ve never heard anyone here saying that Americans are perfect and we SURE as hell know that MEN aren’t no matter WHERE they come from! ;-)

    That VA hospital ‘segregation’ was not about ‘segregation’ as much as it is about having a separate facility that is capable of handling women’s issues properly.

  91. Curious as to how being a female soldier in Iraq etc today is fighting for the rights of American women? What rights do I currently have or do not have that are up for debate or have been won because of this war being fought in Iraq that Im currently not aware of?

    In other words…what benefit or rights am I gaining by American female soldiers fighting in any of today’s wars? (I ask the same of male soldiers but this specifically is aimed at females since a commenter brought it up)

  92. ‘That VA hospital ‘segregation’ was not about ‘segregation’ as much as it is about having a separate facility that is capable of handling women’s issues properly.’..
    ..not its not according to someone who seems to know what she is talking about..
    “Do you know the VA hospitals have had to create seperate clinics with all female staff for women veterans because the instances of sexual assault were so high in the military?”…

  93. Harassment and rape are not equally divided over societies though, the less right women have, the lower their position in society, the more rape and harassment you will have.
    So women in Saudi Arabia are probably having a very bad time of it.
    The army is like a special society on it’s own of course, and I was very interested to read Susan’s accounts. I have heard things too. Women get mysterious coma’s or just disappear. Or are disposed of in the desert. In a society like Saudi Arabia, if your family does not love you, you are going to have a very unhappy life.

    Lynn, women can’t just ”stand up” for their rights in KSA, for one many are brought up to be mindless zombies, without a family with lots of men behind her cause it is impossible, and if that family does not have money and lots of wasta, they will be punished for not keeping better control of their property.
    Wajeha Al Huwaider can protest for women because she is divorced, is now again owned by her father, who supports her all the way and has money and influence.

    And a lot of those women in the ”affluent” level of course have less incentive to protest to start with, they are set up and comfortable, with maids drivers, they can go where they want to (if they have permission) and suffer none of the transport problems less affluent saudi women suffer, and which makes them wake up to the dismal situation.
    And women are certainly not brought up to be socially aware and responsible activists in Saudi.
    So the only women in a position to become fighters for the cause of justice are those with money, safety, powerful men which support them, and virtually no incentive to do so except wanting to make Saudi a better place for women in less privileged positions. Count out how many you would have left.

  94. Interesting things nevewr change women agaisnt women always. Stay at homoe mom’s v women who go out to work still goes ontoday in the USA.\ as well as other foolish issues to argue about. Here you can also see divide and conquer. Women will or at least always have taken sides against each other and until that stops you will not have rights or respect form men. Just a thought.,

  95. @Bella – LOL I just LOVE how you think people ‘seem to know what they are talking about’ when it’s something you WANT to hear. Cracks me up!

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2011-03-01-womenva01_ST_N.htm

    @Aafke – ‘So the only women in a position to become fighters for the cause of justice are those with money, safety, powerful men which support them, and virtually no incentive to do so except wanting to make Saudi a better place for women in less privileged positions. Count out how many you would have left.’

    Whatever, all I am saying is IF they want their rights they need to TAKE them. That is the ONLY way (since they don’t have someone like Susan A fighting for them like I did ;-) )

  96. @Crantode,
    It is not about “stay at home mom” vs. “go out to work women”. It’s about woman being able to chose which they will do and having full legal and human rights.

  97. Lynn, today women in Saudi Arabia do not have the limited rights and freedoms of American women in the nineteenth century. Women are slaves.

  98. I don’t know Aafke, I think the Saudi women of today may even be better off, in many ways, than Susan B Anthony and the women of her day.

  99. @Aafke

    “Harassment and rape are not equally divided over societies though, the less right women have, the lower their position in society, the more rape and harassment you will have.”

    The capacity for humans to do evil, or good is equal. I personally don’t think that me being an Arab, makes me more prone to doing more evil or less good as opposed to another race, but that’s my humble opinion (one that Geert Wilders seems to disagree with).

  100. @Aafke

    Also, it’s pretty insulting to insinuate that women of my country are slaves. Oppressed? Sure. Lacking rights? Definitely. The rights they lack are more so than men, but both genders are oppressed to a certain degree. But just to put it out there oppression != slavery.

  101. I can say for a fact that there are elite and privileged women who are fighting for greater rights of women but behind the scenes. One does not necessarily need to be in the public eye to make a difference.

    I can also relate to Susan’s experiences and want to commend and thank her for her service. I was also in Iraq during 2003/2004 working for a private company but in close coordination with the military. I observed the challenges that American women had in Iraq and how as a result they become tough and in some cases rough in order to gain respect and peace as they performed their tour of duty.

  102. JC, being an Arab, if you are an Arab, has nothing to do with it, I was talking about societies. There is a correlation between the status of women and how they are treated. Doesn’t sound too difficult to understand to me.

    Women in Saudi Arabia are objective standards slaves.
    Women do not have a legal entity, they are forever regarded as immature ”dependents” of some man. If you are Saudi you know that very well. If a woman marries ownership of her person is transferred to her husband, if he dies ownership of her person is transferred to his nearest male relation. If she is old and there are no grown men left her owner could be a 15 year old great grand child, whatever, a woman can never own herself.
    A woman cannot do anything without the support of a man. She cannot go to school, cannot get a job, cannot get medical help, cannot go to court, cannot travel abroad, cannot even go out of the house if her owner objects to it. The point is that however much freedom Saudi women have, it is always given by the man, mahram, who holds ownership. And these rights can be taken away whenever it pleases the man or when he dies and ownership is transferred to a man with less normal ideas.
    If you are Saudi you know all these facts.
    These facts mean slavery. If a human being does not have the right to make their own decisions about any aspect of their own life, then, no matter how benign and tolerant the owner is, he/she is still by definition a slave.

  103. Still waiting for someone to explain what rights I have that need protecting or dont have and need fighting for in Iraq and such right now. Can’t think of any personally but who knows….*waiting*

  104. @Coolred Sorry, I have a lot going on today and don’t have much free time, but since you are waiting, I’ll answer you as best I can. I’m rather certain that the Iraq war has nothing to do with our rights and that topic just got brought up in relation to other things. I think most people agree now that that particular war was a really bad idea.

    As for rights, the below link should explain some things. Women still don’t have full equality in the workplace amd studies show there continue to be pay disrepencies in the workforce between men and women. There are also some government and state jobs (such as SWAT) that are extremely difficult for women to get into. The rest is in the link. Other people may have more to say, but that is what I have for you.

    http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/faq.htm

  105. @Aafke

    Labeling them as slaves is insulting. Were blacks considered slaves during the Jim Crow era? No. Calling them so, would have been in fact insulting. The laws are definitely appalling and oppressive, but for the most part they are not traded with disregard as a human commodity (slaves). A slave would have no say in the matter of schooling, marriage, or work. That’s not how the women were treated in my family, or in the other families we came across. No, we are not affluent, and we are not a even tribal family.

    People tend to forget the even men in Saudi Arabia up to a certain age need permission from their male guardian to leave the country as well, while it’s not as bad as women who always have to get permission, because like I’ve admitted the laws in Saudi may not be in favor of the common man/woman, but they’re certainly worse for women.

    All I can offer is anecdotal evidence. I’m sure due to the laws that exist in Saudi Arabia, injustices do happen more frequently than they do in countries were said rights are secured. It’s just not fair to assume that because these laws exist, men do use them to promote their own misogynistic agenda.

    The capacity for evil and good is the same between all people, It’s just that there are certain checks and balances in place in Western countries in place, to possibly prevent them and secure the rights for women. I’m just not a fan of the view that since there are laws securing rights for women in Saudi Arabia, we Arab men are going to ensure that they have no say in their life.

    Obviously you’re going to see a correlation between how women are treated and their status, if you already view their status as slaves, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

  106. -
    And just to be clear and reiterate my original comment, I took issue with this in particular. “I’m fully aware that American men can be every bit as bad as the Arabs”. That when an American man acts like a horn dog, he’s just as bad as an Arab?

  107. @AB Thanks for your comment. There is far more I could go into the challenges of being a female in a combat zone, but it would take up a lot of space to post. I tried to put a comment in earlier with a few links but I think you have to approve it first. That comment also covers the VA topic brought up and how sexual assault on women in the military brought about the creation of women’s clinics.

    I was stationed at BIAP in the fall of 2003 and often made runs to the Green Zone. If you were in that area, we may have crossed paths!

  108. Susan…Im very well aware of what women in the states continue to go through as second class citiizens..being one myself…I was just unaware of any of my rights needing fought for over there…which is what the comment indicated…that women serving in the military have had to fight for the rights of american women that most american women would not even begin to understand or be capable of doing themselves. (or should be comparing themseves too). That is why I asked.

  109. JC, I am not insulting anybody, I am saying it as it is. Maybe the truth hurts but that’s your own problem, don’t blame me for it. Blame your society and your leaders.
    If you really are Saudi and your family treats women well, it’s still up to the main man in the family who is the mahram of the women. He can allow them freedoms and he can take them away. He can allow them schooling and he can take them out of school, without considering the wishes, desires, and plans for the future of ”your” women.
    Slavery.

    Freedom to marry? Are you really Saudi? If so you would know that women/girls are married off against their wills. Don’t read the Saudi newspapers? There were several instances in the saudi papers of very young prepubescent children who were sold/married to old geezers definitely against their will, against the will of the mothers, but what do they matter? This child rape. This is sexual slavery for girls. They are denied self determination, education, and a future. But they are only girls and women. Men can do with them as they please.
    Slavery.
    And there is even a group of women who do want to marry, but their mahrams/owners don’t allow them to. There have been women going to court, but I remember in one case the women was instructed to be obedient to her master.
    Slavery.

    Slavery is the only correct word to describe the situation of women in Saudi Arabia.
    Sorry if it doesn’t suit you. Maybe you could do something to change it when you go back, if you are truly Saudi.

    Oh, and btw, there are no laws in Saudi Arabia. Judges do whatever they like, or what they’ve been bribed to do, but there are no written laws in KSA. One of it’s biggest fails. Strange you do not know this.

  110. I think chattel is a better word than ‘slave’. ‘Slave’ is usually associated with working hard but the Saudi women ‘chattel’ have their own slaves (housemaids) that do their work for them. And the ‘chattel’ that is not yet married likely does not have to raise a finger to fend for herself or clean up after herself so the word ‘slave’ just doesn’t seem to fit. ;-)

  111. I don’t agree, chattel means the same as slavery, but it doesn’t convey the truth as well. In the case of underage little girls being sold/married to old men it’s child rape and sex-slavery. They have no choice in the matter, when they try to escape their horrible fate they are send back by the judge.

    Even if most of the Saudi women are well kept slaves, they are still slaves, because until they will get civil rights they are completely dependent upon the mahram/owner, whoever that is, and they have no rights to bodily integrity, they can be brought if their owner decides to sell them. There is no other word which really explains the reality better than slavery.

  112. And what about the children who die in childbirth because their bodies are incapable and too immature to deliver a baby? Or what about the 12 year old girl who was raped sa brutally by her ”husband” that she couldn’t walk anymore, and the hospital let him take her home? They could not stop him because she was his property. The next day she was dead because he raped her again and this time she bled to death. Why can a man do this? Because he brought the little girl and she was his property.
    Why is ”honor” killing permitted? Because women are property. Property means slavery.
    These are very sick societies.

  113. But SOME people like to take very good care of their property. Just depends on the owner they get, I suppose. But. even if the majority are good owners the system is still very very sick because of what it can and DOES lead to.

  114. But women are still in effect slaves

  115. @Aafke

    Why the hell would I be offering a different perspective on Saudi Arabia if I wasn’t Saudi? You bring up cases of very young girls getting married, as horrible as it is, is that a common occurrence there?

  116. Common enough that is is talked about in the whole country, common enough that tv shows try show the issue, cartoons are being made, you tube videos are being made, organizations try to stop it. People are asking the government to make laws against it. Common enough for all that.

  117. How about some proper data please? One in ever what marriage is a child marriage? I’m not saying that it’s not atrocious that it happens. I’m just really interested to see how common it is, because the younger person I know to get married was my mom, which was at 16. I can’t say that I know of any children that were married off, or anyone else I know.

  118. My point is this, Until the time comes when women stop dumping on each other there will be a problem with equality. My analogy to stay at home moms v working moms is just that a simple way to make a point about a subject that many women do no realize they are a part of. Divide and conquer woks all the time.

  119. Susan Your point is right on that is what I am trying to get across. You said it so much better than I.

  120. This is true woman did not have a right to their children the rule of thumb was enacted women who divorced lost property even if it was theirs before marriage i am aware of the history in America you can fast forward even to the 20th century when women were put in jail for wanted to vote and not until the upper class of women got behind the movement did it happen. Not until 1920 did women get the right to vote throughout the USA. My point about the 1960′s was although there was little corporal punishment life was not all the easy. The right to vote was the key , and many women sticking together helped bring more equality in the 1960′s.

  121. My (late) Saudi husband would not allow any of his daughters to marry until they had completed University.

  122. Very wise, I guess it’s a good thing that the Saudi owners have such powers. I wanted that for my daughter too but we had to go have all these RULES about how adults are allowed to make their own choices. Oh well…;-)

  123. I was reading the comment about the 12 year old girl that was raped by her husband and to me everything that has to do with abuse makes me sick!! As we all know many countries in the middle east have rebelled against their own dictators for things that the people of those countries have not agreed to. I do not understand why this does not happen in the KSA. Slavery ended when many ppl were tired of the abused and controlling ppl as their if the were their property! What the KSA needs is ppl to rebel against this abuse against women of all ages. It is definitely a very sick society!! and very hypocrite too!! Men abuse young girls and young boys,Saudi men go to countries like Bahrain and Malaysia to find prostitutes is all over the internet for God’s sake!! They definitely have a very big social problem in Saudi arabia, but the question is…is this ever going to stop? All these ‘rules’ that they have is not only hurting themselves but they are also hurting the moral and values of their society as a whole! and then they claim to be the real “muslims’ . Never heard such sad stories in my life!
    I also read not to long ago…that in the KSA in order to maintain a girl to be a ”’virgin”’…teenage boys have anal sex with these young teenage girls, the person that wrote this blog referred to it as ”the new sexual trend” in the KSA. Again this is a very sick society and the saddest part is that abuse and slavery keep happening every single day! And I cannot believe that United Nations has done NOTHING about any of these kinds of abuses to these women. VERY SAD!

  124. Well, I’m not so sure about those university ‘educations’ for girls awaiting marriage. I have a niece studying geography in such a university and she couldn’t point out Canada on a map. I figure that if one is studying geography in a “university” one should at least be able to pick out a country albeit a non-Muslim country on the other side of the world.
    Having said that I have a nephew in KSA who at the age of 11 could tell me where Canada was and all about it’s animals, etc. etc. etc.
    Carol, what opinions do you have about this scenario????

  125. @Wendy,

    My experiences have differed from yours. For example, my stepdaughters were not simply “passing time” while at University. All of them are very studious and the eldest who has graduated now has a very good job.

    I found that the majority of Saudi students (high school and University) I met seemed to know more about US history and the Constitution than many American students. My stepson has always been fascinated by US History and its election process. He can actually list and tell you about all of the US presidents!

    Sure…there will be some young women who are going to University while they await an “MRS” but I think the rising generation and current students are more focused and intent on their studies.

    I’d like to hear viewpoints from Saudi men and women on this topic.

  126. @WEndy..maybe thats just your niece..doesn’t mean anything about the school. Its like a kid not studying even though attending the best school…won’t get too far.

  127. Salaam alaikhoum all, With regard to the “covering of the eyes” edict. The guy from the mutwaat may not have been looking at the ladies eyes. It would be quite simple for him to see from some way away that the ladies niqaab(presuming of course that she was wearing one) had an opening at eye level, and if he was aware of the latest remit, just acted to enforce it (even if he disagreed with it – otherwise he might have lost his job). Regarding whether I think it too harsh – I am in two minds!). Where could this lead,possibly – quite a way I think. I believe you have logged a post regarding the wish of the authorities to cut back on the number of ex-pats. The next step could be “ladies should not be seen in public with non-mahrems”; so lets terminate the visas of all the ex-pat drivers employed by society. “How are the ladies going to get to the shops then”; they will have to be driven there by suitable males of the family. “But then that means that those males that have jobs will be working less”; we will have to employ more of them. Great, but that could lead to cost inefficiences which in todays climate!? (Forgetting oil revenues of course). And then would the male members of the family be willing to spend more time ferrying their women folk to the shops, womens gatherings,etc. I may be wrong, but in my mind I see the scenario of “I am off to work now but I do not know when I will be back so I cannot drive you to the shops” He could easily do it but it would cut down on his time in the coffee shop with his mates!! Maasalaama, Amelia

  128. enjoyed your comment Amelia!

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