Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Will the right to drive mean fewer virgins in Saudi Arabia

Saudi women waiting for drivers
I want to write about women a bit here. I am moved in this direction by the events of the weekend with the Superbowl and all but also by reading yet another article about the struggles women are facing in one of the most repressive and brutal of US capitalism's proxy regimes, the House of Saud. Women in Saudi Arabia have been waging an ongoing battle for the right to drive. There is actually no law against them driving, just restrictions placed on them by a bunch of clerics of a backward and reactionary religious sect and the ruling family that perpetuates and profits from this situation.

The Wall Street Journal had a piece on the whole driving issue today and the first thing that stands out is the use of language used to describe the situation in Saudi Arabia.  Language matters and we always say that the ruling class writes the history books and they write them from their point of view.  The Wall Street begins by letting us know that the struggle for the right to drive is heating up as a court has agreed to actually hear the first lawsuit from a woman challenging the ban on driving.

Saudi Arabia, the Journal points out, is a "..country largely by-passed by the Arab Spring activist movements of the past year." This seems harmless enough but it is not accurate.  The Arab Spring hasn't "by-passed" the House of Saud, the House of Saud, armed to the teeth by the US taxpayer and notorious for its brutality (it beheaded a woman for sorcery recently) has successfully suppressed an Arab Spring from developing there. 

My guess is that many of the woman complaining about or active in the struggle for the right to drive are educated women of some means as one of their complaints is that they end up spending thousands of dollars hiring drivers.  For others, they have to depend on male relatives or simply stay at home. Supporters of the ban, mostly men it seems, argue that it is in line with the "stringent interpretations of the Quran that discourage the mixing of unrelated women and men."

It would appear here that language might benefit the woman as it says discourage not forbid, unless this is the product of incorrect translation. But it clearly doesn't as we must surely recall the woman that left her home with a male that wasn't a relative and was gang raped for her audacity.  She was sentenced to 200 lashes but after international rebuke, ended up getting 100 if my memory serves me correctly.

I was almost convinced of the need for the ban after reading what one Saudi academic suggests is the justification for it that he presented to a royal advisory body.  The academic, the WSJ reports, says that, "allowing women the freedom to drive would lead to widespread loss of virginity among unmarried Saudi women."  Interesting----the alternative I suppose would be to ensure that the car was in continuous motion with the woman in the drivers seat.  But even then, the academic might argue, a sex crazed vigin seeking sexual pleasure like they all do when they find themselves in the company of men who aren't brothers or fathers, would deviously find some way to accomplish this while navigating city streets.

Being in the drivers seat is the issue, for the man that is. While I inject a bit of humor in to this situation in order to mock the arguments of the advocates of the ban, the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia and throughout the world is a deathly serious business. In the House of Saud the beheadings and public whippings are examples of this brutality. The reason is a simple one.  A Saudi man wants a virgin.  He wants sole possession of his woman physically and mentally.  For the wealthy rulers of this brutal regime who travel the world they take great pleasure in the purchase of foreign concubines for their entertainment. No strict interpretation of the Quran for them.

As long as the double standard continues when it comes to US capitalism's support for Israel and the barbaric Saudi's, the vast majority of the people of the world give no credibility to the likes of Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama's ramblings about the lack of democracy or the repression in Iran or Syria.  The House of Saud is about to receive close to $30 billion in weapons of mass destruction and military hardware that will ensure these autocratic misogynists remain in power as the US and Israel constantly threaten to attack Iran. The Pentagon is generous to its friends, those that are willing to share in the plunder of the resources of the area and keep the profits of US the corporations flowing.

The US and the EU are imposing crushing sanctions on Iran.  The US just announced that it is freezing all property owned in the US by Iran or its central bank.  This despite that Iran has repeatedly said it wants to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes which it has a right to do.  But the US wants only its most dependable proxy Israel to have nuclear weapons and anyone that might challenge US foreign policy to be unarmed.  The Iranians of course must have noticed that the US never bombed the crap out of North Korea.  What conclusion might they have drawn from that?

Not sanctions but weapons for the Saudis though.

Workers have limited rights in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and in many countries throughout the world. In Bangladesh, children and women have been shot striking to change the brutal conditions under which they work producing clothes, shoes and the like for western retailers.  

Here in the US we are witnessing every day, a war against American workers led by the politicians in the two Wall Street parties. We see our co-workers losing their homes, their jobs, and everything they've worked for throughout their lives. The people leading this assault call themselves Americans. They are the same people who arm the Saudi's and support the sweat shops in Bangladesh and China.
The struggle of workers in Bangladesh and the struggle of the women of Saudi Arabia and throughout the world are our struggles.

Sexism, racism and nationalism are divisive and an obstacle to the international working class unity necessary to drive back this global onslaught on us by the 1%.  We have to show the world another face and speak to our brothers and sisters in struggle with another voice, the voice of the U.S. working class and a step necessary for that is the building of a mass workers political party here in the US.  We must prevent the 1% from speaking for us and bring the voice of the 99% on to the world stage.

Neither workers rights or women's rights trump profits.  The Arab Spring didn't by-pass Saudi Arabia nor has the international movement for women's rights, they have been kept out with the help of the US government.

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