My piece in The New York Times: Saudi Arabia, My Changing Home

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA — There are many misconceptions in the West about what life is like for women in Saudi Arabia — perhaps almost as many misconceptions as there are among Saudis about people who live in the West. READ ON


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15 responses to “My piece in The New York Times: Saudi Arabia, My Changing Home

  1. Lori

    Thank you for posting. Be well.

  2. K

    Great post – congratulations.

  3. elaine

    How humiliating, as an adult woman, that you need a guardian’s permission to travel and for other things. How can you say that this is simply an “inconvenience”? You are accepting you own subjugation when you make excuses for these laws.

    • Elaine and McKenna, please read for comprehension. Saudiwoman didn’t write that *she* just sees permission to travel as merely an inconvenience. She wrote that many mainstream Saudis think this way. She wasn’t *endorsing* this view. You have the message of her article exactly arse about.

  4. I am guilty myself of criticizing and I’ve realized that if a woman is happy with her circumstances, then so be it. It is her choice to live a certain way. In a sense, we are all pressured by our societies to behave in ways that other societies may not interpret as acceptable.

    Thanks for opening my eyes and heart a little bit more. You have done a beautiful job showing us that it is possible to bring peace into the diverse ways we live in various parts of the world.

    May Allah bless and keep you.

  5. Kaelin Kelly

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and observations. Ignorance of other cultures causes such destructive judgment and rejection, whereas honest sharing such as this touches the heart and promotes understanding of our internal similarities even when the externals are so different. I deeply appreciate your honesty and your courage.

  6. Thomas Byro

    I read the article in the Times. I like to think that you would have had a much happier time had you lived in New York City, rather than Kansas. I don’t think that I would be happy living in Kansas

  7. As a western woman who lived in Saudi for almost 20 years (1982-2000) I applaud your opinions. I loved Saudi and yes there were some restrictions but we elected to stay there are bring up our three children because we saw that families are more valued there than in my own home country (Australia). I am sad I cant go back there now but am happy to say I am now living (widowed sadly) in Jordan and really loving a return to Arabian culture.There are many of us in the west who do not scorn Arabian culture, be reassured!
    Peace to you 🙂

  8. frances

    I am a 60 year old woman who has for the last 6 years has offered “home-stay” to Saudi Arabian students who attend a nearby English language school. So far, I have had 13 Saudi students in my home; 12 males and 1 female (with brother). I read news reports about Saudi Arabia every day and have read almost everything I can find on the internet about Saudi culture and history. Even though every I value and enjoy every single Saudi student who has come to live with me, I cannot tolerate the male’s views of what is and what isn’t a woman’s life should be like. I am appalled that these young men want so much for themselves and so little for their mothers and sisters. They say their mothers are “happy,” “comfortable,” and “want for nothing,” so they don’t need equality or any rights not already given to them. Over the years, I have often thought that after being in the U.S. for several years, these young men would gradually understand the concept of what “equality” truly means. This is a misconception on my part. Even though these students learn English rapidly, the concept of equality evades them. They cannot, will not, and do not grasp it. I wonder if perhaps many of the Saudi woman are the same way. If they haven’t experienced and expected total equality, then they just don’t need it or expect it or long for it. I love learning about and experiencing other cultures, but I will never accept the current Saudi order for women.

  9. I’ve enjoyed reading your blogs, and look forward to learning more about your culture.
    I am an American woman living in the US, and my husband is planning on living half the year in Saudi Arabia, I like so many others have a great deal of concern due to the things media feeds us daily, I wonder if you have any blogs on similar situations of American men working in Saudi Arabia and what life is like for them?
    I am a curious mind, and also a concerned wife, always looking to better educate myself and my family.
    Thank you for your insights,

    Tracy 🙂

  10. gary

    thank you for your honest reply. I hated all muslims after 911 but your blog has opened my mind and put a small crack in a cold heart.

  11. Frances

    First, let me say how much I enjoy your articles! You are an excellent writer! I have written you a few times before describing my interactions the many Saudi male students who have rented room and board (homestay) from me over the last 6 years while they attend language schools in Austin, Texas. Every one of the 13 boys, ages 18 – 24 who I have served have zero interest Saudi Arabia changing expectations for females. They speak tremendously of their mothers, but seldom mention their sisters even when asked directly. They give a blank look and respond that they don’t know what their sisters like or what they do.

    As a 60 year old female, I would definitely say that I would never accept a breech of my personal freedoms just to have a “comfortable life” of servants, drivers, financial stability, and a “nice” arranged marriage. All of that rather disgusts me and would do the same for most American women.
    Please know that the first thing the male students from Saudi ask my son when they meet him away from me is, “If you don’t have servants in your house, then who do you have sex with?”

  12. McKenna

    In this piece, you stated that many bans on women are just a mere “inconvenience”. In my culture, if we were told that we as women could not do the same things as men outrage would occur. Why is it that Saudi women are okay with these kind of bans and regulations? As a Saudi Woman do you view women’s rights to be promiscuous, Westernized and sinful? Or are these rules just what Saudi Women have grown accustomed to and therefore comforted by? and if you had the choice would you end gender discrimination in your country?

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