Representatives of the United States government—members of Congress, officials in the executive branch—often talk about our “friend” and “ally” Saudi Arabia.
One needs to overlook a few unpleasant aspects of that country, the first part of the name of which is derived from the name of the family that has ruled it since the 1920s. There is the marked weakness of human rights. For example, to criticize the King or other governmental officials is also to risk imprisonment. There are plausible reasons for people in Arabia to express dissatisfaction with both King and government, since money from the country is funneled to members of the ruling family to play on the Riviera. Those big yachts—the phrase is not redundant; there are yachts, then there are BIG yachts, and Saudi princes favor Big—cost a pretty penny to purchase and, after purchase, to run.
Another aspect of society there is the restriction on women being able to drive. It is against the law there for a woman to drive a vehicle.
Historian Saleh Al-Saadoon, interviewed on Saudi Rotana Khalijiyya TV, said “women who drive in other countries such as the United States don’t care if they’re raped and that sexual violence ‘is no big deal to them.’” In an article from February 10 on The Huffington Post—this is a cue for those who shut out news when it originates from sources perceived as positioned to the left of center—Ed Mazza writes the historian claimed “women can be raped when a car breaks down, but unlike other countries, Saudi Arabia protects its women from that risk by not allowing them to drive.” Al-Sadoon observed: “They don’t care if they are raped on the roadside, but we do.”
Al-Sadoon faced criticism from other guests on the show, and took another tack. (Is it appropriate to use a sailing term to describe an exchange in a country that consists mostly of desert?) He said women in his country are treated “like queens” “because they are driven around by the men of the family and male chauffeurs.” The show’s host suggested women could be raped by male chauffeurs.
The solution to that problem, Al-Sadoon replied, was “‘to bring in female foreign chauffeurs to drive our wives.’”
After all, one should reason, foreign hussies do not care if they are raped as they change tires at the sides of roads. In other parts of the Middle East, United States female military personnel face roadside peril, but from IEDs, all to further the “cause” of oil..
There are several aspects of this story that are sad. Women live under an oppressive regime and risk lashing if convicted of driving. All the people live in Arabia under an oppressive regime and face punishment for a wide variety of “offenses.” The ultimate punishment is beheading, by sword, in the public square.
We in the United States pay billions to support the government of that country, as it is “oil-rich.” I also read there is a new all-electric BMW out, to complete with the Tesla. I can buy a windmill, generate electricity and drive all I want oil-free.
I am unaware of any women who “don’t care” if they are raped. I know of no women for whom sexual violence “is no big deal.” I even am unaware of any women—or men, for that matter—who look forward to a roadside breakdown.
Perhaps we can lend aid to the country of Arabia and send flyers from triple-A to them. Flood the country with applications for AAA and its roadside assistance. I have had good experiences—across the board—with that organizations and the folks who work for it. In the meantime, we should reconsider our support of that kingdom. There is no indication Al-Sadoon spoke for the Saudi family, but his views are consistent with the government’s laws.