Wajeha Al-Huwaider is a rare woman in Saudi Arabia. She is an outspoken feminist, an activist, a writer and poet, a fearless reformist, and an advocate for women’s rights in a place where the rights of half the population are severely and routinely determined by the whims of the other half.
Al-Huwaider has a lot to say about Saudi Arabia, and she’s not afraid to hit the country’s hot buttons or talk out loud about the many hush-hush issues.
On Arab Men – "With regard to the sons of the Gulf countries, and particularly the men from the oil countries: They were raised to think that they are the best, and that there is nothing in front of them or behind them. What they aspire to more than anything else, after sitting in a chair labeled 'manager,' is [the finer points of dress]... They are narcissistic, and suffer from a malignant and chronic tumor - that is, [they think that] maintaining guardianship [of women] is manly...”
On the treatment of women – "In Arab countries, and particularly in the Gulf countries, the cycle of discrimination against the woman begins when she is a fetus in her mother's womb; [it continues] when she emerges into the air of the world, and goes on until her death. According to men's interpretation, the woman is always 'lewdness' and sometimes 'impure'... The woman is [flawed in mind and in religion] - yet it was the Muslim mothers [i.e. the wives of the Prophet Muhammad] who taught the people a great deal about the commandments of the religion and its foundations. The woman is 'weak and her emotions rule her' - yet at the same time she has the responsibility for educating the younger generation, the basis of the pride of the homeland... The woman is 'temptation' - yet she was created for the man to trust, and to bring him serenity. The woman's 'tricks are greater than the tricks of Satan' - yet a man takes two, three, or four wives. The woman is a '[delicate] vase' that must be treated gently, so it will not be scratched - yet [if she is disobedient, her husband] keeps her away from [the marital] bed and beats her soundly. From cradle to grave, the woman cannot be her own guardian - because she is 'limited and incapable of taking on responsibility for her affairs' - yet the Prophet's dearest and most beloved wife ['Aisha] headed the first opposition in Islam, led an entire army, and waged an historic and critical battle [the Battle of the Camel]...
On Western apathy toward the treatment of Arab women - "I wish I knew why the situation of the women in certain Arab states is not condemned by the countries of the world, and does not enrage their citizens. Why do the human rights activists ignore their suffering as though they do not even exist? Why isn't the cry of these millions of women heard, and why isn't it answered by anyone, anywhere [in the world]? Why? Why? Why? Is it because they are women, while our patriarchal world is ruled by men without an ounce of compassion in their hearts? Maybe that is [indeed the case]."
More writings by Wajeha al-Huwaider appear in English at MEMRI.
The reason most women who are depressed, submissive, and subject to various types of injustice accept their wretched situation is their increasing fear. The fear gnaws away at their sense of being independent entities, and harms their self confidence every day. Thus they always fail at removing the oppression. The real reason for this fear among Saudi women is that there is no law to protect them from violence and discrimination.
In a world of technology, rapid globalization, and continuous international challenges, improving the lot of Saudi women and mobilizing them is no longer a matter of choice and luxury; it is a necessity. The Saudi government must increase its efforts to remove the fear from the hearts of the women, who are half of society, so that they can participate in building [society]...
We must open our eyes to the truth... and that is that all the men, the oil revolution, military force, and financial liquidity [in Saudi Arabia] cannot build a strong homeland when the role of the woman is ignored...
Freedom for Egyptians
When I was a little girl, I read so many children's stories classics in Arabic and in English. It was my mom's treat to take me to a bookstore Down Town to buy the books I like.
Most of the girls' stories were ending in victory because the prince fell in love with her. The girl's happiness was always dependent on winning the heart of the prince. The only way to get out of her misry is by marrying her prince..
In today's world, men and women equally create their own happiness and such stories are no longer valid that's what got today in the new fairy tale.....
This is the fairy tale that should have been read to us when we were little:
Once upon a time
in a land far away,
a beautiful, independent,
happened upon a frog as she sat
contemplating ecological issues
on the shores of an unpolluted pond
in a verdant meadow near her castle.
The frog hopped into the princess' lap
and said: " Elegant Lady,
I was once a handsome prince,
until an evil witch cast a spell upon me.
One kiss from you, however,
and I will turn back
into the dapper, young prince that I am
and then, my sweet, we can marry
and set up housekeeping in your castle
with my mother,
where you can prepare my meals,
clean my clothes, bear my children,
and forever feel
grateful and happy doing so. "
as the princess dined sumptuously
on lightly sauteed frog legs
seasoned in a white wine
and onion cream sauce,
she chuckled and thought to herself:
I don't freakin think so
Saudi women are happy!