The news this past weekend brought the story of women driving in Saudi Arabia. As you probably know, in that strict Muslim country women are forbidden to drive a car. Well, it seems that a number of Saudi women who have lived elsewhere and learned to drive decided to protest and drive cars. It is reported that 25 women went out driving, some taking video of themselves as they drove.
According to news reports five of them were caught driving and had to pull over, sign pledges not to drive again, and wait for a man to come and drive them home. The rest, I suppose, completed their driving protest without incident, although with the videos appearing online I can’t say for sure there will be no backlash.
As you might guess, the idea that women are banned from driving is odd to western sensibilities and various news organizations sought out Saudi religious authorities to seek explanations about what was so wrong about women driving. The responses they got were interesting.
Early responders stated that women simply were not able to drive. While “women drivers” has historically been something of a poor running joke the fact that tens of millions of women seem to drive successfully every day eventually caused this excuse to lose favor.
We heard next that driving was not a “feminine” task. Some of my fellow evangelicals are also enamored with the idea of specific gender roles but I haven’t heard of a one that considers driving to be a masculine prerogative so that seemed not to go over well either. (Note: On my way home from a morning meeting at my church I noticed a woman driving an 18-wheeler deftly making a right turn into a fairly narrow street so this sort of supports the “women can actually drive” case quite well.)
With that excuse gone, Saudi defenders got more creative. My favorite was one who stated, with the utmost care and understanding, that driving is damaging to the ovaries. I suppose by this theory the ban is to protect the ability for women to carry a new generation of Saudi babies to term.
Finally, when all else failed, they resorted to their trump card – Islamic law forbids women to drive. No explanation or justification is needed; there is no choice but to obey. End of story.
Note the progression:
– Women aren’t capable.
– Well, they may be capable but it really isn’t a feminine thing to do.
– Capability has nothing to do with it; it is for their own good that we deny them.
– They just shouldn’t and we don’t need to give any explanation or reason, it is simply wrong.
I’m glad that we evangelicals would never do something like that. I’m glad there are no things we deny women, or limits we place on women, just because. We’d never say “because God said so” and deny women roles they are clearly capable of doing. I am really glad we’d never do that.