In an article in the Saudi daily Al-Watan, journalist Maha 'Abdallah laments the state of women in Saudi society, and decries the fact that, despite the legal reforms in the kingdom that improve the status of women, many men still oppose these changes and strive to subjugate women, whom they regard as devils. Moreover, she notes, many women endorse the view that they are inherently inferior to men and therefore tend to be self-effacing and accept the contempt and discrimination they encounter. Men and women must all strive together to attain greater freedom for all human beings, and the opinions of those who oppose women's rights must not be tolerated, she says.
Maha 'Abdallah (Source: Al-Watan, Saudi Arabia)
The following is a translation of her article:
"Amid the legal reforms pertaining to women, there is still critical talk about them, [about] what they wear, eat and drink, their 'abayas [a traditional robe], their [right] to leave their home, work and study, and [issues of] marriage and divorce. I still don't understand why a large number of men are so interested in women's private affairs. Why would it hurt them if women enjoyed a normal existence? What rights would they lose?
"As a woman it would never occur to me to oppose a man's rights, for any reason at all. As fellow human beings, it is natural and fitting that we should help each other to strive for greater freedom, rather than the opposite! I have never met a woman whose cultural and ideological agenda pivots on men and their rights, and who demands to anchor [her views] in law! So which one of us is the wise one??
"Sadly, in many people's minds, women are devils. I remember a woman who advised her daughter to obey [her] man in everything, and told her: "My daughter, women are wanton if not restrained"! I know this woman well, and that is how she sees herself and other women. Many women agree with her and regard themselves the same way. They see themselves as [inherently] shameful and think they need to prove otherwise every day by showing devotion to a man and obeying him. The most avid [adherents of this thinking] live a life of self-denial in this world, to the point of neglecting themselves: their looks and their [right to find] self-fulfillment through learning and creating in a field they love. They are afflicted with what is called conscious alienation or self-negation. They believe that they are inherently unworthy of [the right to] speak – so much so that they accept it when their own sons disrespect them, and see this as normal!
"How many women live in homes that are like prisons for their humanity? How many women have artistic or other talents but reveal them only to their families? How many souls have been buried alive? How many minds have been extinguished? When will women feel that they are human beings with rights and duties, just like men?
"What I know is that those who oppose the rights of others [do it because they] benefit from it. Why are their arguments accepted? Why do people accept their reasoning and give them a platform to boldly oppose and criticize [women], as though masculinity can be realized only by enslaving women, and femininity is realized only through conscious alienation? Is this conceivable?
"The sad question [I ask myself] today is: How many women experience the conflict between the natural [urge] to exercise their freedom and the attempt to assuage the shame [they feel] for merely being women [by denying themselves this freedom]?"
 Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), February 2, 2022.