A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Just when we’re watching the Enlightenment being burned alive by a pack of snarling university sophomores. . .
Just when we’re seeing common sense being sacrificed on the altar of pseudo social justice. . .
Just when we discover that the barbarians at the gates have kicked in the door and are actually pitching their tents in the garden. . .
And just as we realize that our society isn’t going to Hell anymore because it’s already renting a house in the subterranean suburbs. . .
It is at this moment that an anonymous Saudi woman puts on a miniskirt, goes for a stroll in the historic streets of Ushayqir and challenges the darkness to a duel.
For the uninformed, Ushayqir is part of an ultra-religious conservative area of the Kingdom of Saud, a vast patch of sand that exists entirely in the 8th century. By law, women in Saudi Arabia, must be covered — toes to tonsils — in a black bag called an abaya. They also have to cover their hair and, if they don’t want a boatload of grief, wear a veil. BTW, they can’t drive cars, associate with unrelated men, go anywhere alone or even leave the house without permission. Women in Saudi Arabia aren’t actually bought-and-sold property, but if the sandal fits, you might as well slip it on. So, a woman walking around as casually as if she were in London, Rome or Paris is cause for alarm in the land that time forgot. She can be arrested, imprisoned and even whipped. Why? She’s dangerous. She is as dangerous to the established social order as any dissident author, any fiery orator, or any armed revolutionary. She’s dangerous because she has the audacity to exist — and somewhere, sometime, somehow, some other girl might see her.
I don’t know if this is a Rosa Parks moment or not. Quite frankly, I’m as ignorant as most Westerners about the nuances of the Middle East. But I do know this. While Western feminists and intellectuals may posture and pose, debating how many misogynists can dance on the head of a pin, this woman’s simple act of defiance is a very real candle in an increasingly dark world.