Can comedy do what common sense can’t?
In case you somehow missed it, this video mildly satirizing the Saudi regime’s absurd ban on women driving has gone totally viral since it was posted on Saturday:
That thing about ovaries? The Sauds seem to imagine that driving can make a woman infertile. I kid you not. Being a back-seat passenger has no such effect, it seems.
Could this possibly have anything to do with the idea of control?
(In case you’re amazed at how uniquely backward the Sauds are with respect to women, by the way, you might consider this ironic detail: exactly the same argument was used in Israel for decades to stop women from flying planes. Again, being a passenger was held to have no such effect — just being at the controls. As a result, the first group of female Israeli air-force pilots graduated not in the ’70s or the ’80s or the ’90s, but all of two years ago, in 2011.)
So who is the guy in the No-Woman-No-Drive video? He’s Hisham Fageeh, he’s a Riyadh-based stand-up comic who’s studied religion, and thanks to Mother Jones magazine, there’s more on him here. And if you need a sense of what the dozens of women who defied the ban this past weekend were risking, here’s a TED talk by the wonderful Manal al-Sharif, who went to jail for doing it.
Meanwhile, I’m taking to the road (and the air) through mid-November, with Bob Marley on my playlist. But will I ever be able to listen to ‘No Woman, No Cry’ the same way again?