Imagine that you’ve planned a day to stay in and try out all of those recipes that you’ve been meaning to test out. Just as you have almost everything mixed together, you realize that you don’t have eggs. However, due to the male-dominated culture of your area, you can’t just jump into the car and drive to the grocery store. Instead, you have to wait until your husband comes home to have him drive you and escort you to the store.
Last month women in Saudi Arabia, fueled by pent up frustration and the desire for equality, challenged their culture and government by asserting their right to drive. This seemingly obvious right is actually not extended equally to both genders because of the conservative Muslim culture. In an effort to defy the ultra-conservative ideals and take a stand, women came up with an interesting way to publicize their rights.
What better outlet to raise awareness and support than social networking? That’s right, Saudi Arabian women took a stand on Facebook by posting photos and videos of themselves driving cars. Using networks such as Facebook and Twitter allowed the women to gain support for their cause while simultaneously raising publicity for this issue. This effort was especially strong in June, as many women took the wheel and publicized it on the internet in an effort to further integrate themselves into society. This movement was a breakthrough in that it gained international attention: because many women in Saudi Arabia have never had the opportunity to get their licenses, they encourage female visitors to take advantage of their foreign licenses and cruise the road openly.
Many people who agree with these restrictions on women feel that it protects them. Without being able to drive, women are less likely to leave the house without a male escort. Apparently, keeping women from driving relieves them of the obligation of having to transport themselves. This twisted way of viewing the infringement on women’s rights makes it seem as though the Saudi Arabian government is doing women a favor by not allowing them to drive vehicles. Rather than permitting women to drive without restrictions, the conservative culture forces them to remain subordinate to their male counterparts.
There are two issues at stake here- women exercising their deserved right to drive and the community standing up against oppressive authority. Until the Saudi Arabian government stops treating females as the inferior gender, women will continue to be suppressed and their rights will continue to be overlooked.