In his latest post, ElectricAngel mentions a conversation he had with a feminist who complained about misogyny in Muslim countries:
an older feminist mentioned something about misogyny in Muslim societies (I consider Muslims to be potential Patriactionaries, but my colleagues often demur.) I rather angrily responded with the line of argument that just WALLOPED me when dropped on me by a Muslim colleague: what could be more anti-woman than a society that forces women to work and school during their young, fertile years, and denies too many of them of the pleasures of life from times immemorial for women: husband and family.
Alas, as readers of the Spearhead will already know, Saudi Arabia has decided, in the interests of finding a way to employ women but keep them segregated from men (according to Islamic mores), to build a city exclusively for women, so they can work and move about freely within it; according to the news article:
The inaugural one in Hofuf is essentially a female-only industrial zone that’s expected to employ about 5,000 Saudi women in the textile, pharmaceutical, and food-processing industries. Women will run the companies and factories.
I see this as a capitulation by the Saudi kingdom to the forces of secularist, progressive modernity, ultimately not in line with their Islamic heritage, despite their ingenious attempt to both ‘modernize’ and hold to their values, or so they think, in doing this.
Because of (a) the reasons why they’re doing this, and (b) the impact it will likely have, ultimately, on their society.
Why are they doing this?
According to the linked news article:
Who came up with the idea?
A group of Saudi businesswomen, according to the business newspaper Al Eqtisadiah. But Saudi Arabia’s ruling monarchy embraced the concept as a way to lower female unemployment while staying “consistent with the privacy of women according to Islamic guidelines and regulations,” Modon said in a statement. The government had little choice, says Sarah Goodyear at The Atlantic. “Restrictions on women’s lives and productivity there are so extreme — Saudi women need a male guardian’s permission to travel, seek employment, or marry — that the country is in effect letting a potentially huge sector of the productive economy sit idle.” About 60 percent of college graduates in the country are women, and 78 percent of them are unemployed, according to recent surveys; only 15 percent of the Saudi workforce is female.
That article puts it as “only 15 percent of the Saudi workforce is female”, but this one emphasizes it differently, noting:
Saudi Sharia law says that a woman’s essential duties should be in the home and forbids her to work a job. But despite the ancient law, more and more women are coming into the workforce. According to the Daily Mail, nearly 15 percent of the workforce in Saudi Arabia is comprised of women.
And the first article noted:
Saudi Arabia already has all-female factories and the largest women-only university in the world
So, despite Sharia, i.e. Islamic Law (which is ostensibly the basis for Saudi law), encouraging women to be homemakers, already, 15 percent of women in Saudi Arabia work outside the home (some in all female-factories), and many more have had post-secondary-school education (more than half the country’s college graduates are women – 60%, in fact), many of whom (78% of which, in total) remain unemployed…
So no wonder they feel compelled to address the issue; having allowed access to higher education to women, now comes social pressure (not political, Saudi Arabia not being a democracy, but nevertheless real social and economic pressure) to open up the world of work to women. And so they’re giving in, to a request from a group of businesswomen… According to this article:
”The new industrial city should have a specialized training center to help women develop their talents and train them to work at factories. This is essential to cut unemployment among our female graduates,” businesswoman Hussa al-Aun told the Saudi business daily Al Eqtisadiah, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
So, apparently it is critical to move to lessen unemployment amongst female graduates; I suppose most of them aren’t interested in remaining homemakers, are they…
What will the impact be? Well, what do the feminists think? Reaction is mixed; some compare it to apartheid, and bemoan it. But others (and even one of those who see it as a form of apartheid) are looking forward, and seeing the ‘bright side’:
Actually, I think “Hofuf will be exceedingly productive,” says Zoe Williams at Britain’s The Guardian. For one thing, “as an industrial town with no men in it, it will presumably contain none of those mini-impediments to productivity known as ‘children.'”
Going directly to the Williams essay at the Guardian, she also says:
While it doesn’t seem to have been devised with female empowerment in mind, that doesn’t mean Ladytown won’t boost women in unintended ways. Saudi Arabian women are often very highly educated (the country also has the world’s largest women-only university) but then barred from the jobs market – and when you educate people, refuse to let them work and then suddenly unleash them, en masse, into economic productivity, that’s almost an open invitation to them to be better than you.
I don’t know that the women will be better than the men, but she has a point about the impossibility of encouraging women to pursue higher education but then barring the door to them; it just can’t be done; the social pressure will become too great for any society, even one founded on Sharia, to resist…
Another commenter at the original article I linked:
Look, in this kingdom, this is the only opportunity for women “to have an income, be financially independent,” at least for now, Saudi radio host Samar Fatany tells ABC News.
Indeed, it will do just that. And lastly, a male feminist at that site I’ll never link to, and will remove the link from, notes:
Putting women to work feels inevitable, even in Saudi Arabia, says Doug Barry at Jezebel. And “everyone should have the right to fall into the daily grind, because only then can all people truly appreciate how awesome it will be when robots do all our work for us.”
Yes, so Saudi women ought to slug it out in the daily grind just like the men do, because female equality demands that, according to feminist dogma…
I think it’s fair to say that notwithstanding a bit of grumbling about superficialities like appearances (comments about ‘apartheid’, etc.), that feminists are generally on board with this, and certainly aren’t vigorously opposing it, in any real way.
But where are Saudi Arabia’s imams, the Islamic preachers and theologians, on this? Why are they not opposing this creeping form of feminist, secularist Westernization (because that is, what it truly is)? Why are they not echoing Sayyid Qutb?