–guest post by Sylvia Fowler
Male genitals are requirement for sexual performance, fathering a child, and hormone balance. In Saudi Arabia, they are also the basic requirements for a driver’s license. Individual habits aside, the driver is not required to do anything with his genitals while driving. He just has to have them. Concepts like drivers’ ed, age, and stipulated hours of training with a licensed adult driver are all considered part of nonsensical and Godless Western bureaucracy. Once a boy can see over the dashboard, he may trundle over to the Saudi equivalent of the DMV.
During the 1980s and 90s, when I lived in Saudi Arabia as the wife of a Saudi , writers discussed the subject of allowing women to drive in both English and Arabic newspapers. Recently my older son asked me, “Do you think women will be allowed to drive soon in Jeddah?” I have to forgive him for thinking there is a chance; he is, after all, in his twenties. To him, the debate seems to be reaching a crescendo.
I know exactly why the debate percolates on in the Saudi press. It is a carrot dangled in front of the educated. So long as a subject is discussed, people will not press too much. In the U.S. Senate, the technique is called filibustering. [Those women who have made peace with living forever in Saudi Arabia support the restriction against female drivers, underlining the age-old truth, “When you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”]
Little has changed in the net of proposed restrictions that have been cast out for allowing women to drive. Female drivers would be permitted to drive during daylight hours ending in the afternoon, so as to get to work, take the children to school, pick them up and get home again. Somehow they would be expected to get all their shopping done in between these times. Under no circumstances would women be allowed to drive in the dark. The most interesting condition about allowing women to drive, even in discussion, is the requirement of the face veil.
Since women can’t see when they walk, why should they see when they drive? I stopped holding my breath for the emergence of female drivers in Saudi Arabia long ago. I like breathing, and I thank God to still be doing it.