About two weeks ago, Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on women drivers. This is 2018. Two weeks ago. 2018. Really.
The only country in the world that kept women from driving a car has relented. It is no longer illegal for women to operate a motor vehicle.
By contrast, I can tell you that one of the reasons I have been missing my wife as she travels across the pond is that I let her do most of the driving. I pretty much have dibs on shotgun. I watch the world go by from the passenger seat, safe and secure in the knowledge that my wife has been driving for nearly forty years and she does a fine job. It is a ginormous relief to go for a ride, though I tend to avoid the temptation to put my head out the window and feel the wind rushing past.
Which makes me wonder why the prohibition in Saudi Arabia existed in the first place. I suppose if the idea was to keep them home, barefoot, pregnant, subservient. And probably a little more relaxed. Maybe a lot more.
I don't like to drive because it makes me nervous. Sometimes to the point of distraction. Which is kind of contraindicated in most circumstances on the road. I suspect that if I were to take the wheel as some form of revolutionary act, maybe I would feel differently. The women of Saudi Arabia hit the road in protest of these restrictions twenty-eight years ago. Forty-seven women were arrested for driving through Ridyah back then, and many more followed their path in the years after.
I can remember the embarrassment and frustration I felt when I failed my first driving test. At sixteen, it seemed impossible that I had waited that long to the privilege of being a licensed driver and was denied. For two weeks. It took me a while to get bored with it, and eventually I took relief in the opportunity to turn over those duties to someone else. Anyone else. My wife, my son, friends. But if someone told me now that I was barred from this activity, I would have pitched a fit. So, the good news is that I can now go anyplace, including Saudi Arabia, and ask someone else for a ride.
At last. What a relief. It's almost enough to make me want to dance....