The students were making presentations, and Mohammed and Mohammed had taken as their title 'Women drivers - agree or disagree?', meaning, of course, 'should women be allowed to drive?' This was a test, so I was not allowed to make any remark. I made a few notes, though. First there were some Saudi-style observations about womankind of a fairly routine nature; women are ruled by emotion, they are a bit wanting in the logic department, therefore they cannot read maps and are thus the chief cause of car accidents world-wide. M&M had a series of Daily Mail-type cartoons circa 1970 as part of their Powerpoint presentation. You know the kind of thing - all women in be-ribboned bucket hats and wide-lapel coats giving naive explanations to police officers as to why they have crashed into lamp posts, shop windows, funeral cortèges and so on. Utterly dreary twaddle, but they elicited some male mirth from the audience. Unwisely, I covered my eyes with my hand in mock embarrassment. Nouriya, a very intelligent lady from Libya, saw me and smiled. The smile communicated 'I've heard all this before and it's pretty much what I was expecting.'
Mohammed 2 now announced to murmured approval that in Saudi Arabia they believed that Woman should be as Royalty, and that the ban on driving existed purely to protect such fragile treasure from masculine mayhem on the roads. He moved on to enquire of the audience what they thought on the matter. Some dangerous anarchists opined that women who wanted to drive should be permitted their head, but only after attaining the age of thirty, when presumably they will have served their purpose as breeding bitches and possibly learned to be less feather-brained than they once were. There was general agreement that no woman could be expected to learn to drive after the age of forty. So ladies, there is a possibly a ten year window there. You could lobby for that - if there was anybody worth lobbying.
'I think we ought to move on to Xue-Li's presentation now, Mohammed' I said. Subtext: sit down, you smug, self-satisfied, patronising arse. That's when I could have done with the cop-clobbering lady from Saudi. I would not have intervened if she'd had a go at him.
'To see resistance from a woman means a lot... This is just the beginning and there will be more.' The Mail attributes this comment on the cop-bashing incident to Wajiha Al Huwaidar, whom you can listen to here.
It remains to be seen what punishment the assailant will receive. A long prison sentence and / or lashes are likely. I hope Al Huwaidar is right, but I'm not optimistic. Saudi men hold all the cards, and of course God is entirely on their side.