Dear Saudi Women,
When I first heard of Saudi Arabia’s plan to build women-only cities, I got so angry that I shouted, ‘What the fuck! you wanna build a women-only city, like a black-only ghetto? You force women to wear burqa, they have no face, no identity, no rights! Now you wanna dump them? You have been apartheiding women big time! Fuck you, Saudi Arabia, go build your ass-only city!’
I am not angry anymore. I have been thinking a lot about women-only city. I have also been thinking of your country and your religion. They both hate you, they treat you like a piece of shit. You should know that burqa-only city is regressive, women-only city is double regressive. If you allow a pinch of humiliation, you will ultimately allow tons of humiliations! You know that you can’t say, NO. You already prove that you are not able to change anti-women system you are living under. You got support from all over the world, but you could not go out in public without burqa, you could not drive your car on your Driving Day campaign. You are afraid of being flogged. You failed to challenge an oppressive regime. You are now going to get a women-only city, you will then get a women-only land. They have created a prison for you. The prison is getting larger and larger. But dear sisters, think positive. More than 100 years ago, a Muslim woman called Begum Rokeya dreamed of a women’s land. Please read an excerpt from her classic ‘Sultana's Dream’.
When walking I found to my surprise that it was a fine morning. The town was fully awake and the streets alive with bustling crowds. I was feeling very shy, thinking I was walking in the street in broad daylight, but there was not a single man visible.
Some of the passers-by made jokes at me. Though I could not understand their language, yet I felt sure they were joking. I asked my friend, “What do they say?”
“The women say that you look very mannish.”
“Mannish?” said I, “What do they mean by that?”
“They mean that you are shy and timid like men.”
“Shy and timid like men?” It was really a joke. I became very nervous, when I found that my companion was not Sister Sara, but a stranger. Oh, what a fool had I been to mistake this lady for my dear old friend, Sister Sara.
She felt my fingers tremble in her hand, as we were walking hand in hand.
“What is the matter, dear?” she said affectionately. “I feel somewhat awkward,” I said in a rather apologizing tone, “as being a veiled woman I am not accustomed to walking abut unveiled.”
“You need not be afraid of coming across a man here. This is Ladyland, free from sin and harm. Virtue herself reigns here.”
By and by I was enjoying the scenery. Really it was very grand. I mistook a patch of green grass for a velvet cushion. Feeling as if I were walking on a soft carpet, I looked down and found the path covered with moss and flowers.
“How nice it is,” said I.
I became very curious to know where the men were. I met more than a hundred women while walking there, but not a single man.
“Where are the men?” I asked her.
“In their proper places, where they ought to be.”
“Let me know what you mean by ‘their proper places’.”
“O, I see my mistake, you cannot know our customs, as you were never here before. We shut our men indoors.”
“Just as we are kept in the zenana?”
“How funny,” I burst into a laugh. Sister Sara laughed too.
“But dear Sultana, how unfair it is to shut in the harmless women and let loose the men.”
“Why? It is not safe for us to come out of the zenana, as we are naturally weak.”
“Yes, it is not safe so long as there are men about the streets, nor is it so when a wild animal enters a marketplace.”
“Of course not.”
“Suppose, some lunatics escape from the asylum and begin to do all sorts of mischief to men, horses and other creatures; in that case what will your countrymen do?”
“They will try to capture them and put them back into their asylum.”
“Thank you! And you do not think it wise to keep sane people inside an asylum and let loose the insane?”
“Of course not!” said I laughing lightly.
“As a matter of fact, in your country this very thing is done! Men, who do or at least are capable of doing no end of mischief, are let loose and the innocent women, shut up in the zenana! How can you trust those untrained men out of doors?”
“We have no hand or voice in the management of our social affairs. In India man is lord and master, he has taken to himself all powers and privileges and shut up the women in the zenana.”
“Why do you allow yourselves to be shut up?”
“Because it cannot be helped as they as stronger than women.”
“A lion is stronger than a man, but it does not enable him to dominate the human race. You have neglected the duty you owe to yourselves and you have lost your natural rights by shutting your eyes to your own interests.”
“But my dear sister Sara, if we do everything by ourselves, what will the men do then?”
“They should not do anything, excuse me; they are fit for nothing. Only catch them and put them into the zenana.”
“But would it be very easy to catch and put them inside the four walls?” said I. “And even if this were done, would all their business, political and commercial – also go with them into the zenana?”
Sister Sara made no reply. She only smiled sweetly. Perhaps she thought it useless to argue with one who was no better than a frog in a well.
We talked on various subjects, and I learned that they were not subject to any kind of epidemic disease, nor did they suffer from mosquito bites as we do. I was very much astonished to hear that in Ladyland no one died in youth except by rare accident.
“Your achievements are very wonderful indeed! But tell me, how you managed to put the men of your country into the zenana. Did you entrap them first?”
“It is not likely that they would surrender their free and open air life of their own accord and confine themselves within the four walls of the zenana! They must have been overpowered.”
“Yes, they have been!”
“By whom? By some lady warriors, I suppose?”
“No, not by arms.”
“Yes, it cannot be so. Men’s arms are stronger than women’s. Then?”
“Even their brains are bigger and heavier than women’s. Are they not?”
“Yes, but what of that? An elephant also has got a bigger and heavier brain than a man has. Yet man can enchain elephants and employ them, according to their own wishes.
Saudi women! You have been forced to live in mobile prisons for fucking 1400 years. You have now no options left. You have to make a land for women where you will not be prisoners, you will enjoy your complete freedom. You are unable to make small changes. Why don’t you get ready to make a big change? You probably do not like reforms, you want a revolution. If you want to survive, you have to occupy the land, and you have to make ‘Sultana’s Dream’ come true. Use your brains and lock those insane sons of bitches up.
Sisterhood is forever.