Monday, April 2, 2007

Women can't drive if she wears a veil....Bull!

Food for thought for those naysayers that think we must discard our veil in order to drive:
Personally, I've driven veiled in the east and in the west (I've even driven in SAUDIA- Shhhh!). If you have enough of an IQ to operate a motor vehicle, you have enough brains to arrange your veil so it doesn't interfere with your peripheral vision. Now, let's discuss the topic of long hair blowing in the wind, impeding it's possessors vision.


Carol said...

but my are a logical and intelligent woman who has grown up in an environment where women have drove. I do remain cautious as to how some Saudi women who have not driven and very concerned about remaining properly veiled would handle such a choice...some will do very well but others I think not....

saudi stepford wife said...

My Emirati friends, who all drive and cover, say that the only restriction on them is that their eyes must be unveiled. I'm not sure if that what's written in the law books or if that is an understanding. We need only look to our fellow Khalijis (Emiratis, Omanis, Bahrainis, Kuwaitis) to see how they've gotten around the driving while covered issue. Although there are many Khaliji women who have discarded their coverings, many still remain veiled or have gone back to it after their experimentation with "freedom".

saudi stepford wife said...

I've been a personal driving instructor for several Saudi friends while living outside of the country in an effort to make them more self-reliant. Also, that's one of the first things some of my Saudi acquaintances have done upon going to live abroad. Several wives of Saudi students in England made a little "learn how to drive" pact amongst themselves. They were so sick of hearing their husbands using the excuse that they're busy in order to avoid driving them places. We found female driving instructors and they handled the issue like pros. The catch when teaching them to drive has always been learning to pump their own gas. Here, that's Hindi work (thus, not becoming of a Saudi) and they'd be mortified if other Saudis were to see them pumping their own gas! A silly hang-up!

Anonymous said...

This um hassan I just want to say keep up the good work and I will common on this later

Sand Gets in My Eyes said...

I have always been curious about this, so one day took our Land Cruiser out into a huge parking lot and tried driving with an eye-hole veil and also a full veil. Neither afforded the vision I needed to drive safely - and I have been driving accident-free for 30 years!

We have a lot of Saudi women drivers here on camp - most of whom are self taught and veiled, and let me tell you, when I see them on the road I pull over!

I applaud their initiative in learning to drive, but the combination of obscurred vision AND lack of proper training AND limited road experience equals an accident waiting to happen.

As for motorcycle helmets, as you may know, my husband and I are avid riders and still every time I put on my helmet I know to be extra cautious because my field of vision is restricted. And again, I've been driving motorcycles since I was a teen.

lol Sorry but it looks like we are on opposite sides on this issue!

saudi stepford wife said...

Truth be told, I did almost end up in a hedge while teaching one of my friends, but it was only her second time behind the wheel...learning curve and all. As far as the skill, or rather lack thereof, displayed by some of the Saudi women at your camp...hell, I'd stay away from them too! Novelty drivers. They're probably no better than the 12 year olds driving Suburbans I see around here (which the police don't seem to stop).

Although I started wearing hijab as a teenager, I didn't wear a nikaab (face veil) until i was in my 20's, better educated about Islam, and decided it was the right thing to do. When I started wearing it I must admit, it took an afternoon of fiddling before I found how to arrange it without it interfering with my eyesight. I can't even bear wearing sunglasses because it screws with my vision so optimum visibility is a must for me. A quick tug, tuck, and sometimes a pin- Voila!

I suppose when one has worn veils for several years while engaging in various activities, styles and methods of wearing them have been found which render them unobtrusive.

Lori- motorcycles seem to be another shared love. Every male in my family raced and my brothers and their sons had dirt-bikes starting from age 5!

Saabirah said...

Assalamu alaikum,

Just wanted to give my salams after discovering who you are :-). I used to look after your daughters' in the Muslim nursery, although I'd met you prior to that when you were studying English with a friend of mine. Hope you're all well.

saudi stepford wife said...

Wa alaikum Salam Saabirah,

I happy to know I'm gone but not forgotten in England. I hope all is well with you also.

Desert Flower said...

I have driven in a veil similar to the one in the pic. just after I become Muslim...of course this was in America. I never had any problems seeing and was able to drive normaly and safely

Kathryn said...

While we're chatting about this, its probably true to say that many men who drive here in KSA have their vision obscured by their ghutras. Certainly their left and right fields of vision are limited, although, come to think of it, even when you see men not wearing ghutras, mostly they don't look left and right anyway! There were some statistics in a Bahraini newspaper a while back that gave encouraging figures about the different driving habits of Saudi men and women over there, Saudi en being responsible for quite a number of accidents but Saudi women being mostly very competent behind the wheel. I think the veil is a non issue, myself, as there are plenty of other challenging tasks the average woman has to do with her veil on. And while I'm here, I just wanted to say that I discovered your blog recently and I am an avid reader. Since moving to Al-Khobar about 3 years ago from Australia, I have wanted to read everything and learn as much as I can, and I am really enjoying reading you. I think you write very well. Keep it up and thank you!

hema said...

an interesting range of opinions here. it reminds me of a debtate here in the uk not so long ago when it was suggested that muslim women wearing the veil can't interact with society fully,especially when working, as you cannot see facial expressions etc. but if you were to follow that line of argument,there would be an awful lot of people that couldn't "communicate properly", deaf people for example. does that mean they shouldn't work either..

i love the analogy between the veil and the helmet.i'm sure wearing a helmet does obscure one's vision to a certain extent, but i'm also sure the benefits of wearing it outweigh those disadvantages..

Dotsson said...

This blog is fucked up in so many ways.

saudi stepford wife said...

Thanks for the comment Kathryn and hope to hear from you again. Just curious, is one of your Booty Foods VeggieMite?

Hema-you saw me interact just fine the four years was in England. You drove around with me and watched me give oral presentations and ask questions in our literature tutorials. So you're my witness if anyone needs to ask.

Dotsson, my dear- you're just jealous your blog lacks the eloquence my blog embodies and heartbroken that I'm obviously not a cheap tart looking to flirt with you online.

Carol said...

I'd like to remark about the comment of men and how they drive...I have asked my own spouse about why in Saudi specifically he drives while predominantly looking only straight ahead. His response was it is ingrained in the culture because in the event the car on either the left or right may have a family with women, it should not appear as if an unknown male was trying to stare at unrelated women! Incredible, eh?

saudi stepford wife said...

You'd have to tell me Carol, because you've had much more experience with world cultures in your career, have you ever come across a culture that ogles as much as here? I wish every man here were as courteous as your husband, Mashallah, because my friends and I are usually looked over, up and down, and scrutinized by most males here. Although my husband partakes in eye-filling himself (and I catch him in it), even when driving, he's been forced to shot a few evil looks into cars passing by us and taking looksies at me. And boy, can he look mean! There are men here who are hanging out their cars shouting their mobile numbers at us as we're walking, minding our own business, and covered in a very decent way. This also discounts the fools chasing the buses which convey female university students and craning to see anything they can, attempting to exchange phone numbers by various means, and many of the girls are egging them on. But I've gone off on a tangent.

My idea is that most men don't bother looking left or right because the country is filled with kamikaze drivers whose credo is 'Get Out of My Way".

Organic-Muslimah said...

Ya. I feel like I am nothing if I can't drive. And I used to cover my face an drive. No problem.

Just watch out for that blind spot!

saudi stepford wife said...

I found a blog, so much more eloquent than mine, that hits the nail on the head

Highly suggested reading!

Lamya said...

Oh of course one can drive with a veil.. Women can talk on d phone,cook,change a babys daiper and help a sibling with homework ALL at d same time.So driving with a veil:) piece of cake.Only sucks when u wearing it,driving and want to sip your morning coffee.Guess we have to wait for a traffic light on that one.

Carol said...

In response to your comment, I have found that Pakistan also has men both young and old who will do what I call the "Pakistan Stare." This happens in India as well and I believe it is part of the culture where they have not been raised as others elsewhere that it is impolite to give a penetrating stare while blatantly looking up and down at a person. But...gotta admit, Saudi has been the worst with the "youngsters" who will go to such extremes to get the attention of a woman and pass their number.

saudi stepford wife said...

Oh blogspot, why did you delete nzinghas comment! Hopefully it will magically reappear faster than it disappeared.

Lamya-Sipping coffee, no prob...just lean forward ever so slightly allowing your nikaab to hang off your chest enough to get your coffee up under the nikaab and neatly sip.

Now, that's advice for those truly desperate coffee fiends who shouldn't be operating a moving curling iron let alone a vehicle before imbibing large quantities of that magical elixir of wakefulness to avoid inflicting their wakeLESSness on unsuspecting fellow commuters...I just described my state in the morning. Coffee anyone?

Or, alternatively- purchase one of those fashion savvy beer can hats, modeled at any North American outdoor summer sporting event by the karsha-modeling agency (karsha=jelly belly). Place one mug (covered of course) in each side of the hat with the long spiral sippy straws descending cleverly under the sides of your nikaab, but not touching your face- ouch, HOT- to sip coffee while driving at your LEEEEE-sure (Hema).

I think those Ally McBeal daydreams were taken from my head!

Ann said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

I'm late commenting on this, but I live in Kuwait and drive with niqab - as do many other woman here - and it's absolutely not a problem.

I drove for about 20 years without one, and for about the last 12 years with one, and there's no difference. The niqab is not in my line of vision.

My eyeglasses are in my line of vision, especially when I look to the side. Men's ghutras - especially if they wear them hanging down on the side - make it impossible to see to the side. The same for some styles of hijabs. But the niqab is covering my forehead, nose, mouth - not my eyes!

I don't know the law in other countries, but in Kuwait, it's officially illegal to drive with niqab. I've been here 15 years, and there have been two times when they cracked down, and neither crackdown lasted long.

Their reasoning isn't about any vision problems; the argument is that it's a security issue - but that makes no sense. Because they only care if the driver has her face covered. So if the driver doesn't, but everyone else in the car does, that's OK (security-wise). But if she switches places with one of them, then it's a security issue?

Rockin' Hejabi said...

Uhm uhhhmmm and look to the Qataris too! Don't forget the Qataris!

Women drive veiled all of the time in Qatar, no problem. I did as well. I found that it was imperative to remove the gauzy burka part though, that was pretty hard to see through... and having a niqaab that has eye slits that opened up my peripheral vision also helped.
I don't think it't the veil as much as the fact that when you have an entire cohort of the population being novice drivers, there will be a number of bad drivers at first, but I would expect that to drop off after a certain amount of time.

Rockin' Hejabi said...

I don't want to hear it ever again from *any Khaleeji man that women shouldn't drive...I can't say how many times I've seen a man say "allahu akbar" then actually duck his head looking downward at his feet as he enters a *THAT'S* SCARY!

saudi stepford wife said...

Well RH,

Foot lookin explains a lot when it comes to how completely inept Saudi men are when it comes to round abouts! Or any other traffic rules that require courtesy and patients for that matter.

I wonder if all the Qataris that come here get little info packs on the ills of women driving at the border crossing. I know it's general knowledge that women don't drive here but I've never looked to see when coming in from Bahrain or Emirates if it's actually labeled somewhere. If it is...I need a pic!

Anonymous said...


Your the one fucked up.

saudi stepford wife said...

Thanks Marium for chastising Dotsson but I think he went cowering back to his phallo-centric blog...too many thinking women here. Or else he's a secret reader so he can learn how to deal with REAL women when he grows up.

And I just realized i wrote PATIENTS instead of PATIENCE in my last comment- DUH! I'll blame it on sleep deprivation, baby and all.

Anonymous said...

Assalamu alaikum ya SSW, I wanted to add my $.02 re driving veiled..

I drove veiled while in Canada, and I drive veiled now that I'm here in Kuwait *waves to Ann - it's so nice to see another western sister over here!*

I wear shayla and a half-niqaab...the kind that has elastic around the back of the head and rests on my nose, under my eyes, cuz my abaya goes over my seems to just work this way, I dunno, my neighbor showed me how to do it and I'm happy with it. It's easier, I find, than the other bedu one that I had that had the line between the eyes/nose part.

my vision isn't restricted one bit thanks muchly, you can test me - I drove for 15 yrs in Canada prior to here, frankly, I think you could drive with your eyes closed here and get along just fine due to the atrocious conditions present here for the average driver. For sandgetsinmyeyes, I'm guessing that either you had the wrong sized niqaab, wrong fit, or wrong style for your comfort level - it takes a bit of time to get the hang of it, I think I fiddled with mine for the first week (I wasn't driving, I was in KSA at the time lol).

All of my veiled friends drive, incidently. All of my neighbors here drive...and they drive very well. We went out zooming in my neighbors land rover last week and practiced "male driving" just cuz we could, safely, out in the dessert by Kabd..what a hoot to be that crazy! But that was deliberate ;) Who says muslim women have to behave?? I have a thriving inner 5 yr old, and lately she's really clamoring to get out, you know? ;)

And the staring issue is, well, yes. An issue. The canuck in me just is BURNING to yell "do you have a PROBLEM"...especially when I'm followed around every mall I go to, I find it so incredibly rude and obnoxious, but I mean, I understand that guys like Dotsson don't have anything else to do *grins*

saudi stepford wife said...

"male driving" = driving like a senseless maniac....sounds right.

Anonymous said...

If you have enough of an IQ to operate a motor vehicle, you have enough brains to arrange your hair so it doesn't interfere with your peripheral vision