Saudi Woman, Manal al-Sharif, Who Defied Driving BanPosted by Jim Newman on June 15th, 2012 – 3 Comments – Posted in Uncategorized
Post by Jim Newman
CNN has a good piece on Manal al-Sharif who defied the Saudi ban on women driving.
Growing up in Saudi Arabia, Manal al-Sharif was taught in school that listening to music — just like driving, showing her face in public or making a decision without consulting her male guardian — was forbidden and sinful.
She believed so strongly in music’s satanic powers that she burned many of her father’s and brother’s cassette tapes so they couldn’t play them anymore.
Then one day in 2001, al-Sharif was about to dub over one of her brother’s American tapes with a lecture on Islam when curiosity got the best of her. She let herself listen to a few bars. And the first song to touch her ears helped reroute the course of her life.
It was the Backstreet Boys’ “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely.”
“They had been telling us that music was Satan’s flute — was a path to adultery,” she said in a recent presentation at the Oslo Freedom Forum, a human rights conference in Norway. “This song sounded so pure, so beautiful, so angelic. It can be anything but evil to me. And that day I realized how lonely I was in the world I isolated myself in.”
Never, in a million years would I have thought of The Backstreet Boys as a rebel band. Go figure. If this is true then this kind of cultural influence has far greater peaceful democratizing effect than the Bush years of waving a gun and saying my way or the high way, which sounds a lot like a Saudi saying.
Here is her youtube video with subtitles from last year when she filmed her demonstration by, gasp, driving.
Here she is at the 2012 Oslo Freedom Forum.
June 17 is now an annual demonstration to allow women to drive. When you are cruising around on the 17th consider that it is a privilege and not a right. That we consider it a right is because we forged a constitution that gave freedom to women on all levels. While conservatives want to continue to repress women–I knew conservative Republican men who didn’t think or allow their wives to drive–and write up obscene antiabortion laws (just passed this week), nevertheless, we have much to be proud and much to lose if we let theocrats debase our freedoms.
It’s funny but those old school conservative boys said women should’t drive because they should be pampered or because women weren’t mechanical, they were mothers. The real issue was they didn’t want to allow women to drive even when women wanted to and could quite well. It was just patriarchal bullshit. Perhaps some men were sincere but most really did not think women were competent. I was there. I heard them. I hated it and couldn’t say anything. Now I can. Fuck it. Let them wreck your car (if it’s even just yours) if that’s what it means. So what?
Jim Newman, bright and well