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Stuck in the past

Feb 04, 2014 11:15 am | Sam Macdonald

If you asked me as a child what I pictured the world to look like in 2014, Iíd probably have described you with all sorts of crazy things like rocket boots, underwater cities, and of course flying cars. After all, what utopian childhood vision of the future doesnít include flying cars?

Despite my fantastical visions of the future for 2014, there are some parts of the world that are still very much stuck in the past, and are making up any excuse they can to stay there.

As much as tradition can be a source of wisdom, comfort, and cohesion among people, it can also be a damaging, regressive force. One place comes to mind, in particular, when considering the damage in adhering too much to tradition - Saudi Arabia. The country has the distinction of being the only nation left in the world where women are not allowed to drive vehicles.

I consider myself an egalitarian. Women and men are human, and women and men are equal. That should be the law. In fact, I consider equality a measure of how far a society has come, and I donít think my opinion is too unique.

Here in Canada, things that are essential to our livelihood, such as driving, are not a gender-based issue. Itís something that should in no way be segregated by gender or sex. We are used to the proper human rights our constitution and laws afford us. This is how it should be. Imagine how ridiculous a driving ban would be here, in a place where everyone needs to drive to get to where they need to be.

The powers that be, in the absolute monarchical state of Saudi Arabia have a different vision of what is right and proper for men and women. As you read this, women in Saudi Arabia are fighting for the right to drive. Not to have equal representation in the workplace, not to have reproductive rights, not to defy gender roles and forge a stronger social and political identity. They are fighting for a right that everyone else in the world has.

The country needs to take a step forward. As a trading partner with western nations that include Canada, it is truly a shame that they perpetuate such blatant oppression. I came across articles describing the ridiculous pseudo-science behind the laws, thinking they were made-up - they werenít.

A prominent Saudi Sheik (safe from a humiliating mention today, because I couldnít find his name) has been heard to cite dubious pseudoscientific ďstudiesĒ stating that the angle at which a woman sits while driving damages her ovaries.

As a sober second thought, itís clear there are still people in the world who will twist science and logic, with all sorts of strange interpretations to serve archaic social and political agendas.

Like any reasonable human being ought to, a number of people arenít taking this lying down. In a justifiably snarky humorous viral video called ďNo Woman, No Drive,Ē one artist mercilessly parodies the benighted social policy regarding driving in Saudi Arabia, to the tune of a classic Bob Marley song.

Saudi women have rallied in 2011 and 2013, across the country, to perform what amounts to the ultimate direct act of defiance: getting behind the wheel and going for a spin. The response? Legal action and assorted threats from all sorts of government and anonymous sources.

Itís 2014. Letting women drive in Saudi Arabia would hardly solve all of the countryís problems, but it would certainly get things rolling in the right direction.

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