New, fresh blood – the milk of Saudi society

Shoura Council President Abdullah Al-Asheikh


RIYADH: The Shoura Council applauded the decision of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah on Monday to give women an opportunity to become members of the council.

The second regular session of the council was chaired by Shoura Council President Abdullah Al-Asheikh.

According to an announcement made by the king on Sunday, Saudi women would be allowed to stand and vote in municipal elections and also become members of the Shoura Council.

In his opening remarks during the first session following the king’s speech, Al-Asheikh thanked King Abdullah for inaugurating the third year of the fifth session of the Shoura Council and pointed out that his landmark decision amply demonstrated his support for the welfare of Saudi women in the Kingdom.

Yesterday when I started to use the phrase “the war of the sexes” – a phrase common when I was young, I thought how odd and out-of-date it was.  It pre-dates the pill, Title IX, the abortion debate, the equal rights amendment debates, women in the military and dozens and dozens of other signs that women are becoming more and more equal in all facets of life.  It was the stuff of dark dramas set in the south and light-hearted comedies set in Hollywood.  It was in articles in Ladies’ Home Journal  on how to be a good housewife and please your husband; and in Sport and Field in articles on how to escape your wife and be a man in the wild.  I wasn’t sure anyone would remember it the way I do and I did not think anyone would take me seriously when I said it characterized the fundamental differences between the sexes; differences that can never be resolved because they are part of our generic make-up.  Especially now in the 21st century, when our society has made a great deal of progress and no area of our society is without some regulatory guidelines to insure fair and equal treatment.   Maybe the last place where there were remnants of old attitudes was in law enforcement.  Until recently any dispute between a man and woman was taken as a “he said, she said” and the woman’s character was called into question; women were by nature too promiscuous, their skirts too short and their integrity too dependent on their emotions to trust them- no more.  Today even rape and domestic violence are treated more fairly and equally in the courts.

Oh really? have you followed any of the arguments by the defense and prosecution in Italy?  The prosecution is calling the young woman on trial for murder, evil, a liar and a witch – yep a witch.  The defense is trying to save her, but with the same kind of sexist arguments, describing her as a faithful, committed lover.  Try to imagine the same language applied to a man accused of murder – you might be able to imagine it, but my imagination fails me.  I know I am mixing other countries into an essentially American discussion, but that is because I think it is so much at the core of our nature that we cannot afford to ignore it, regardless of where it may take place. The woman may be guilty of murder, I have no way to judge that, but she appears to be on trial for being a woman and not murder.

The worst case of the age-old bitterness and violence between the sexes comes from Saudi Arabia, where a woman who dared drive a car was sentenced to 10 lashes.  Driving a car?  Like the witch in Italy, she was tried not for driving, but for being a woman.  I wonder if that generous king who as decided women should vote is going to watch – is it sexual for Saudi men?  I put a bit from the Arab News, a Saudi Enlish language newspaper at the beginning of the blog – but left out the headline: “Shoura chief says women will bring new blood to council.”  I wonder does he mean the blood from the lashing, or the blood from the blood killing where a Saudi man is allowed to kill a woman of his family for dishonoring the family, or the blood of the woman stoned for adultery or the blood of the servant girls imported from Asia and held as slaves that we read about regularly?  Just what blood is the council going to drink? Once again, they are Saudis not Americans – but they are men and if we are not careful we too could be trapped by our own nature into such crimes.  It was a violent day in the war of the sexes.



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