According to a Guardian online article, found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/29/saudi-women-living-contradiction, there are contradictions that make up an inherent part of Saudi culture. One contradiction is that women are not allowed to drive for the purpose of not interacting with men; however, they hire male drivers who are strangers to transport them from place to place.
The Saudi government also spends a lot of money on educating women so that the majority of women are enrolled in institutions of higher learning. However, at the same time, upon graduation, these same women will be unable largely to find gainful employment because of gender segregation laws and other restrictions on the movement of women.
In Saudi Arabia, women (and men) present themselves as very conservative. However, once on a plane headed out of the country, according to this article, the burkas come off, and the Western clothes are donned.
King Abdullah, the aging monarch who rules Saudi Arabia, has decreed that women can vote and run for elections. This happened last year. They can also become Members of Parliament. However, it is also true that they would need someone to drive them to the building where they work. For every advance that occurs, there seems to be an outcry on the part of the conservative Saudi population which threatens to reverse the gains enjoyed by women.
However, it should also be pointed out that in the past, women who disobey the driving ban have never been punished. After the king’s decree, a woman was sentenced to ten lashings because she broke the driving ban. This represents a definite escalation in the usual punishment for such an offense. Long term, it seems like Saudi women will eventually enjoy the rights long experienced by Western women in terms of right to vote, right to hold office, etc.
It seems to me that a balance would be nice. A conservative country where the gender roles are markedly different, but where women do have the right to pursue the path they wish in life. A country where women are not stoned for offenses, but where men and women share equally in the consequences of negative behaviour. A country that loves God, but allows tolerance for people who do not. A country with freedom of speech, and enough flexibility so that people do not have to play a role, one that ends as soon as they board a plane to the West. The West as it currently stands is not the answer. Western society is disintegrating rapidly and it seems like it will continue to do so.
This is because Westerners collectively have turned their backs on God. There are improvements that in my opinion are necessary for Saudi society, but let’s not overlook the good parts of the Saudi culture. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, in other words.