Here's an excerpt from Maureen Dowd's Sunday column:
An American Muslim working here says there are hard adjustments, like hearing men use the occasional epithet “Dog” to address her, and not being able to leave the airport coming home from a business trip because she has no husband or male relative to pick her up.
She had to secure a letter from her employer stating that she could leave the airport on her own. When she wanted to buy a car, she had to use the subterfuge of having a male friend buy it for her, and even then, she can’t drive it except in one of the exclusive compounds with looser rules.
A recent article in The Arab News headlined “Working Mothers in a Double Bind” showed the growing pains of Saudi suffragettes. It told of a woman who secretly hired a cook to deliver meals and assuage her husband’s demand for home-cooked dinners. When her husband caught her, he divorced her — and Saudi divorces are easy as long as you’re male.
“He forgot his promises and left me just because of food,” said the woman, Huda.
...Americans are sometimes shocked to see Saudi women and realize “we’re not cowering, we’re actually quite professional. Are there issues here? Absolutely. There isn’t a place in the world that doesn’t have issues.
“I’d like to live in a Saudi where the woman that chooses to cover from top-to-bottom is equally as respected as the woman who chooses not to cover her face, and people from the West can accept that it is a lifestyle choice, inasmuch as wearing a miniskirt or a long, flowing dress is a choice. I find a lot of people minimize the women’s cause in Saudi by how we dress, and that is actually offensive.”