Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan


(Saudi Arabia, 2012)

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive. Well, everybody knows that (as they say in the Geico commercials). But did you know that in Saudi schools the Pythagorean Theorem is taught as being a miraculous gift from Allah? Did you know that strange men are not supposed to even hear the voices of young women? That the Koran is to be handled with a tissue, and never when a woman has her period? Unclean, you see. That if a man is standing on a roof, looking down onto the grounds of a female school, it is incumbent on the women to make themselves scarce?

It is possible to go on and on about this, but it gets tiresome. I used to believe in multi-culturalism, and I still do, up to a point, but strict Islam goes way beyond that point. It is difficult to believe that in this year, anno Hegirae 1436, women stroll through a modern, western-style mall in Riyadh with only their eyes visible under their niqab. That they can be divorced by their husbands for no reason at all, without any court action. That each Saudi woman has a male relative as her guardian. She can do nothing without his approval. Again, I could go on and on.

Call me Islamophobic, I don’t care. I’m not even talking about the gynophobic psychopaths in the Taliban, or that crawling pestilence that is calling itself ISIS. Remember, I said strict Islam. I understand full well that there are millions and millions of Muslims who don’t believe in these sick, sick laws of sharia. Good for them. Good people, and who cares if they pray to Mecca five times a day? And fuck King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and all his camel-fucking family.

Wadjda is a young woman stifling to death in a religious madrassa in Riyadh. She is always getting in trouble for major sins like not covering her head in public. Her ambition is to own a swell green bike that costs 800 riyal so she can race with her friend Abdullah, who has yet to learn that women are an inferior species. She saves up money, even enters a Koran contest where the prize is 1,000 riyal …

… and here, I’m sorry to admit, I had had enough. It was about halfway through. I just couldn’t stand watching this shit anymore. So I read about what happened in Wiki. She wins the contest, and when the school finds out she intends to buy a bike with it, they decide to donate the money to Palestinians on her behalf. Man, am I glad I stopped. I would have wanted to blow up the school (uh-oh, I’m starting to sound like an ISIS Muslim) and all the teachers in it. So she gets home and Mom says she’s got some good news and some bad news. Bad news: Your piece-of-shit father is taking a second wife. Good news … I bought you that bike.

Well halle-fucking-lujah!

Just about everyone has seen this little movie as a sweet, feel-good story. Not me. What does Wadjda have to look forward to in the Kingdom of Pig-sucking men? A year or two riding her bike, and then nothing. Already it’s kind of scandalous that a girl is riding a bike. Something un-Islamic about it. (Un-Islamic, in this sense, is anything the religious police deem to be forbidden.) Can you imagine that as a mature woman she will be allow to pedal down the sun-blasted streets? In your dreams. She will have to hire a rude van driver, just like her mother does for her three-hour commute.

Yes, yes, I know I have gone off the deep end here, just a wee bit. And I am glad this film got made. It is the first full-length feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, and that says a mouthful right there. It is 2014, and they have made no feature films? Even more shocking, it was made by a woman, Haifaa Al-Mansour, who is surely a feminist. It took her five years to get it made. And when it came time to start shooting, she had to direct it by walkie-talkie from a trailer. Why? Because it is forbidden for men and women to work side by side. Let me say that again. The director of this film was not allowed on the set! That says it all, to me.