Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Give him one for me

Here's a satisfying little news story. A member of the Saudi Arabian Mutaween (the Morality Police, those Sons of Fun you see pictured above) stopped a young man and woman who were out walking together and thereby outraging public decency. It was the Virtue Promoter's duty to apprehend them and lead them away to be sentenced to however many lashes the infraction might be deemed to merit. The young man appears to have passed out, but his girlfriend was of sterner stuff; she laid into the cop and smacked him about to such good purpose that he had to be hospitalised. You go, girl! I wish you'd been with me in my classroom this afternoon. I had another bloke you could have practised your left hook on.

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.


Fionnchú said...

While my wife can't read maps or tell north from south, she admits her shortcoming! I love maps, so she drives (gasp); I navigate. We're assisted in rental cars in strange cities by that squawking GPS, more or less. (It can be annoying: "turn around when it is safe to do so. You are going in the wrong direction.") But it reduces our bickering, slightly.

Perhaps this technology might ease gender bashing? As for more general, global fears that Women Need to Be Treated Like Royalty lest Doomsday arrive, your account of Levantine chauvinism reminded me of this recent proclamation, intriguingly titled "Iranian cleric defends earthquake-promiscuity link".

That in turn makes me wonder how the trilobytes and dinosaurs sinned against their Creator.

vilges suola said...

I can't read maps either, and I don't drive - never passed (or took) a test.

I read about that Iranian cleric on 'The Atheist Experience' blog. Someone there proposed a day of mass cleavage baring, which in fact came to pass, to test the hypothesis that immodest dress causes the Lord to smite the world with quakes. Nothing happened - so the cleric was vindicated: 'God may be holding off on natural disasters in the West in order to let people sin more and doom themselves to hell.' It's that tell tale LACK of earthquakes that shows you just how angry God is.

Sarah said...

What I find really odd/sad is how many of my female Arab students would agree with M 'n' M's assessment of them. But the statistics all around the world are that women have fewer accidents and the accidents they do have can usually be walked away from - unlike the typical road accident here, which is generally reported as an 18 year old Emirati male driving on one of the lovely straight roads we have here at 2 am when suddenly "the vehicle left the road" (all by itself), rolled 100 metres and burst into flames. Clearly that's just something that cars do from time to time. It is changing, as more of our female students have licenses and permission from their parents to leave the college when they don't have classes, but slowly, slowly. Personally I've never learnt to drive, but I'm an excellent navigator and map-reader - I must be a bloke! And my husband is happy to ask for directions.

Sarah said...

By the way, if you want real misogyny, how about this recent news story from the UAE?


Oddly enough, the same newspaper reports that rape victims are reluctant to report the crime...

vilges suola said...

I'll read the UAE story in a couple of hours when I have the time. Yes, I know women are by far the more responsible drivers. Unfortunately it was a test and I wasn't allowed to intervene!

Fionnchú said...

Via Maryam Namazie's feminist "Iran Solidarity", here's "Why I Would Be Executed in Iran" by devoted lesbian scientist atheist (etc.?) Jen McCraight. They promoted "Boobquake" to provoke Allah's delayed, entrapping, wrath.

vilges suola said...

Thanks for the link.


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