Women Can Vote in Saudi Arabia – So What?

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King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has announced that women will have the right to vote in the next Saudi elections. Pardon me if I am underwhelmed. Women will be able to vote in Saudi Arabia, but presumably they will have to walk to the polls, since they still aren’t allowed to drive. And once they get there, with blistered feet from the long walk and suffering from heatstroke from having to walk while fully veiled under the desert sun, they will face a choice of candidates that is about as broad and diverse as a choice between Charles Rangel or Cynthia McKinney.

Offering Saudi women the right to vote in a country that doesn’t offer its citizens even the semblance of any real choice in the voting is a hollow victory at best. How excited would you have been if you had heard that some previously disenfranchised group had finally been awarded the right to vote in Stalin’s Russia?

Nevertheless, some of the perennially starry-eyed may think that King Abdullah, in announcing this great breakthrough on Sunday, was paving the way for further advances in Saudi women’s rights. The reaction from Washington was predictably fatuous: National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said that the move recognized the “significant contributions” women have made in Saudi Arabia, and will give them a share in making “the decisions that affect their lives and communities.”

Who knows? Maybe King Abdullah’s generous decree is a harbinger of more good things to come for Saudi women, who have made so many “significant contributions” to Saudi society, by having many Saudi babies, and cooking many Saudi meals, and cleaning many Saudi floors. Maybe this is just the beginning. Maybe in another year, the Saudis will let women leave the house without being chaperoned by a male guardian.

Maybe in two years the testimony of Saudi women will no longer be valued as only half that of a man. Maybe in three years women will be able to inherit a share equal to that of men if the person writing the will so desires. Maybe in four years women will be able to have some recourse when they are beaten. Maybe in five they’ll be able to protest when they’re used as commodities in business deals, given in arranged marriages the way others trade horses or cows. Maybe in six they’ll be able to speak out against the dehumanization of polygamy, and in seven years, who knows? Maybe pre-pubescent girls will be able to reject being married off to men decades older than they are.

But these further advances are, in fact, unlikely. For unlike the restriction on voting, these other limitations on the lives of women in the Kingdom of the Two Holy Places are rooted directly in Islamic law, and thus are not likely to be revised or discarded by a regime that is not only explicitly and self-consciously based upon Islamic law, but is beset by hardliners who believe that it is nonetheless still not Islamic enough. Al-Qaeda and other Islamic jihadists deride the Saudi royals as hypocrites already; imagine their fury if those royals started letting Saudi women be loosed, even just the tiniest bit, from their gilded shackles.

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  • Chezwick_mac

    One wonders how many women will be voted ONTO the consultative Shura? Why do I suspect the number will be 0? Is it because I'm jaded?

    Absolutely! I'm Jaded in the extreme when it comes to all things Islam. This is the inevitable fate of any and every freedom-loving infidel with even the most rudimentary understanding of the 'Religion of Peace'.

    • Coupal

      I don't think they are allowed to run as candidates in elections, are they?

      • Chezwick_mac

        I heard they can in local elections…but maybe not in the national Shura. If they CAN in local elections, it'll be interesting to see how many actually win.

  • Anamah

    This kind of regime are a disgrace for the world not only for them. Islam is here in America. Little by little they are gaining space and pushing our doors and windows. They are committed to entry and beginning to rule and make the war against our Constitution. We need to keep out of our country the Sharia law, we must stop the Islamization in America.

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    • johnnywoods

      Jake, It is open for debate on your last point.

  • Marty

    The saudi regime cannot "give" a right that human beings of both genders already possess. All the saudi lowlifes are doing is denying basic human dignity, something they excel at and have been pursuing for generations. This is the eiptome of arrogance on the part of the saudis. This is only one more reason saudi arabia is a fake state and should be dissolved. The United States should encourage and support separatist movements, particularly in the eastern part of the country (where much of the oil is), freeze all saudi assests, and use them to reduce the national debt.

  • Supreme_Galooty

    It was a dark time indeed when the United States of America careened off the rails, passed the 19th Amendment, and extended the franchise to women. The men were already doing a marvelous job of mucking things up, and all we did was double our trouble.

    It is only fitting that those pesky, jolly musselmen suffer a similar fate as us benighted Americanos.

    • tanstaafl

      The 19th Amendment didn't go far enough. Sure, women got the vote, but why did men get to keep it?

      • Supreme_Galooty

        Because it was men, already mucking things up as previously mentioned, who passed the thing? Just guessing. I'm in favor of Robert Heinlein's proposition: ANYONE can vote. You enter the voting booth, the curtains close behind you. A quadratic equation is presented on the screen and you have sixty seconds to solve it. If you do so correctly, you vote. If not, the curtains open on an empty voting booth.

  • waterwillows

    Supreme_Galooty,

    Oh come on now, don't you enjoy having someone to share in your mucking up? Why go it alone?

  • Supreme_Galooty

    My Dear WW,

    The Supreme Galooty ALWAYS "goes it alone," and does not engage in petty Tom-Foolery such as you suggest, although I do appreciate your earnest solicitude.

  • Gerald

    Nothing is going to change for the women of Sowdia Barbaria as long as they continue to live under sharia law. How can it change when in the memorable words of Churchill "In Islamic law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine.(The River War ) or in the words of Qurtubi’s Tafsir (vol.15, p.172), "A Woman may be likened to a sheep—even a cow or a camel—for all are ridden.”

  • StephenD

    How long before they get to keep their genitals intact? If the Saudi's keep this up, women in the M.E. will begin to think they're actually real people!

  • mrbean

    Master Chens says: "Women should stay home and make babies. Preferably, manchild." Never marry an AMerican woman. American woman are basically worthless wives. They want a 'dual career' marriage. They are very materialistic. Once you stop buying them things, they are off to the next john. They can't make it on their own and end up leeches. They are always btchy 90% of the time. Some are bi-polar nutcases. Don't lest looks fool you. Women turn ugly at 30-32 yrs old. They get fat and smell. That is when they want you back. No one wants them.

  • Andreas Moser

    This is nothing more than a publicity stunt and an empty promise. What's the point of elections if there is NO parliament in Saudi Arabia? => http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/wome