Driving Miss Daisy, Saudi Style

by NANCY HARTEVELT KOBRIN, PHD, JOAN JUTTA LACHKAR, PHD June 21, 2011
 
A car is sometimes just a car but with the recent events Saudi women's uncontrollable urge to drive is another way of being touched by the Arab Spring "fever," a drive and an impulse which are now unstoppable.
 
Beyond this autoerotic urge is to be real women just like all the other women in the rest of the world. Major complaints are they do not like taking taxis, being driven around by drivers, are often late, are ready targets for seduction and harassment or they just want to drive some place alone by themselves. Having their own cars makes them feel more in control, driving their children to school without having to depend on unreliable sources. Besides many have international driver’s licenses and have experience driving in other countries. They have tasted the forbidden fruit and it is good.
 
In recent months, more and more women have been breaking the ban and driving themselves. They pray and hope they will get away with it, but when caught, they are brought to a police station until their male guardian — usually husband or brother — comes to pick them up and is forced to sign a pledge that he won't let her drive again.
 
In a male dominated society this is not only about power, control, domination, we propose that Saudi men are incredibly threatened and terrified over the uprising role of women and the sexuality she exudes.
 
As psychoanalysts, we can only speculate that Muslim men overall feel impotent and weak, have distorted their image of what it is to be a man giving over their power to Allah leaving them emasculated.
 
In fantasy by diminishing the role of women by making them powerless it is a way to restore their robbed masculinity and this gives them a false sense of omnipotence, power and control.
 
As we have underscored before, we believe the entire conflict in the Middle East is based on devaluing women and that if there were freedom and democratization, one could only imagine how this change in dynamics could impact Muslim men.
 
Halim Barakat, the leading Egyptian sociologist, has repeatedly noted that the Arab Muslim family is dysfunctional and it is a microcosm of Arab society. He explains why there are so many societal problems, a society of dysfunctional families the bedrock of a failed civic infrastructure. Hence, throughout the Middle East, the rally cry is for freedom. Yet, unless women are free and have rights, there can be no democracy.
 
In essence, what is driving our Miss Daisy Sisters is not just freedom that the women are pushing for, it is an entrée into radically changing Saudi society. In turn Saudi women driving will also tear down the barriers to the boring and unhealthy fantasy of Saudi Wahhabi Islam's homogeneity called the purity of Islam. We predict that it is only a matter of time that the entire Saudi house of cards will fall. There can be no turning back and when this happens Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi Islam will also lose its stranglehold over Mecca and Medina. Islam’s world-wide faithful will surely want a more diverse and respectful theology – one that doesn’t forbid churches and synagogues being built in Mecca and Medina. Our overall analysis can be extended to Christians and Jews, for they are cast in the same category as devalued females.
 
Driving represents a radical change but it is inevitable. Bottom line – Give ’em an inch and they’ll take a mile!
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributor Dr. Nancy Kobrin, a psychoanalyst with a Ph.D. in romance and semitic languages, specializes in Aljamía and Old Spanish in Arabic script. She is an expert on the Minnesota Somali diaspora and a graduate of the Human Terrain System program at Leavenworth Kansas. Her new book is The Banality of Suicide Terrorism: The Naked Truth About the Psychology of Islamic Suicide Bombing. 
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributor Dr. Joanie Jutta Lachkar is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist in private practice in Brentwood and Tarzana, California, who teaches psychoanalysis and is the author of The Narcissistic/Borderline Couple: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Marital Treatment (1992, The Many Faces of Abuse: Treating the Emotional Abuse of High -Functioning Women (1998), The V-Spot, How to Talk to a Narcissist, How to Talk to a Borderline and a recent  paper, “The Psychopathology of Terrorism”  presented at the Rand Corporation and  the International Psychohistorical Association. She is also an affiliate member for the New Center for Psychoanalysis.
 

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