Let Them Drive
“It’s so loud inside my head with words that I never said”
I tend to bite my tongue on matters political and religious. I stay informed, I form my own views, but the words stay in my head. Usually, I think that’s best.
“As I drown in my regrets, I can’t take back the words I never said”
On October 26, while Saudi women engaged in a collective effort to defy the ban that keeps them out of the driver’s seat, both literally and figuratively, I was at the races, one of my very favorite things to do. I drove myself to the races and I drove myself home. I drove the next day and the day after that. During that time, I noticed headlines referring to the events of October 26, but didn’t actually read the accompanying articles. I was busy, running around, had things to do. The usual.
It occurred to me, though, that there would never be an event more topical for this blog. I felt almost a responsibility to write about it, to at least throw my hat into the ring of pundits. Women and cars is my brand, if you will. I should say something.
Then, in a quiet moment, I actually thought, really thought, about what it would be like to be banned from driving. That would be devastating for me, since cars and driving are what I love. But even setting my passions aside, the powerlessness and lack of control that settled like a rock in my stomach was palpable as I imagined waiting for a husband or father or brother to drive me to the store or to work. How it would feel to be completely subservient, individually and as a gender. Then I thought about how Saudi Arabia is a rich and developed country. Not a failed or formerly failed state like Somalia. Or a despotic cult state like North Korea. And yet, it is the only country in the world that bans women from driving.
It’s not a law. It’s a custom, with a religious origin. A demeaning, demoralizing, despotic custom.
The women of Saudi Arabia are not okay with this. Are we?
I’m not. And I’m not okay with keeping these words in my head anymore.
“If you don’t become an actor, you’ll never be a factor”
Time to speak up. Time to do something. Introducing Project Keychain.
My dear friend, Ashleigh Burroughs, and I have concocted a little plan. As of today, we are embarking on a project to collect keychains, as a showing of support for the women of Saudi Arabia. As a way to show them that we hear them, we acknowledge their struggle. As a way to say that they are not invisible to us.
What will we do with the keychains? My hope is that we will keep collecting them, amassing a huge roomful, until the Saudi government abolishes the ban and we can send them to Saudi women to use. Wishful thinking, maybe. But maybe not.
If nothing else, we’ll make a big sculpture/collage of hope and support and take it viral.
“I think that all the silence is worse than all the violence”
Why don’t you join us? Let’s not be silent. Share our campaign with your family and friends. Like the Facebook page that will be up very soon (I’ll post the link!). Link to this post and to Ashleigh’s very beautiful one.
Send us keychains! We have our very own address, and can’t wait to start receiving them. Feel free to include a note of encouragement to Saudi women. Ashleigh and I will be photographing the growing collection and sharing the photos online, so that everyone can see, including the women we hope to inspire.
Send keychains, notes, love, hope, good vibes, etc., etc. to:
You can also post about this…everywhere! On Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you name it. Please use the hashtags #Nov31Driving, #LetThemDrive and #ProjectKeychain, so that we can create a unified effort, support each other and, most importantly, support the women of Saudi Arabia.
Karen, one of my closest friends, gave me this heart-shaped keychain several years ago. It’s Keychain #1 of this project, the first of what will hopefully be many sparks that will soon light a fire.
Let’s get to work.
Lyrics from “Words I Never Said” by Lupe Fiasco