Opinion: Saudi women take to social media to protest driving ban

Kara Taylor

Kara Taylor

Kara Taylor is a freshman journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Women in modern-day America are very privileged in terms of equality. Sexism still exists, of course, and women are not 100 percent equal to men, but we have more rights than women in other countries. We may actually take advantage of these rights, forgetting that at one point we had very few. Women’s suffrage paved the way for several important rights, including voting. We take for granted the simple rights, such as the right to drive. In Ohio, at the age of 16, young men and women alike are eligible to obtain a driver’s license. In Saudi Arabia, women are banned from driving. Fortunately, the women in Saudi Arabia formed a campaign and are currently protesting against the ban. Some women have the courage to still drive. A few Saudi women filmed themselves driving and posted the videos to YouTube as a part of the protest.

Throughout the world, the term conservative seems to have a different definition. I believe requiring conservative behavior of people in general is acceptable, but I also believe there is an extreme conservatism — extreme as in having little to no rights. Women in America wake up every day and choose their clothes, have the ability to vote and to partake in politics. We choose our own men and whether we want to marry or not. We may suffer from sexual, educational and political pressure from the male gender, but we have the voice and the right to make a change.

Saudi women do not. Saudi women are required to wear loose clothing and a veil, known as a Hijab, in the presence of men. Women also are required to have a male guardian. Male guardianship is passed from father or brother to the husband, and women are basically owned. This stops women from enjoying basic rights. It is absolutely absurd these women are deprived basic human rights and are made to take a backseat to their men. The women should at least be allowed to drive, if nothing else. It seems the women are treated as children instead of adults. I understand that many of the laws and traditions date back centuries to religious beliefs and customs, but these women deserve more rights.

I believe it is very modern and tech savvy that they are using social media to aid their protest. These videos have grabbed the attention of thousands. They could be arrested or fined if found behind the wheel of a car. In the videos, some men drive past the women and show support for their protest. In their culture, the women driving under a ban is considered a defiant act. This is a brave and honorable protest these women created. I am delighted these women are protesting for their right to drive.