“The Women in Black” by Hala al-Dosari, a Saudi Writer and Women Rights Activist
Once upon a time, in a busy shop
In the land of tribes and ancient civilizations
A little girl sat watching…
in silent resignation
Grown-up women with shrouds of black
Hidden and silent… in isolation
With a “no-trespassing” look
They wandered around in simulation
When a single woman appeared, suddenly, in the shop
The little girl felt a sudden sensation
Yes, the woman wore the black alright…
Yet, she walked with determination
Not cautious, fearful, or covered-up
The woman moved as a distinct population
She seemed to own the world
She was … such an inspiration…
Why would she be on her own? The little girl wondered?
Wasn’t she afraid from reprimands or accusations?
Looking that pretty in embroidered black,
Defying the norms as if in a celebration
Who gave her the money that she’s spending
Without a second thought or a hesitation?
Was she really confident and strong as she seemed?
Or is it the little girl’s wishful imagination????
In that little girl’s life
Most women shared a specific combination
Emotions were not revealed, opinions were suppressed
With lots of reservations
They held on to their black tightly
Least someone recognize their identifications
Their world seemed full of judging men
Watching for proofs of condemnation
So the women in black kept their covers tight
Protecting their reputation
Yet a single woman in black dared to show her face
Visible without a mask, in obvious relaxation!!
The little girl knew that something/ someone
Must explain that awkward observation
Of that visible woman in black
Despite the isolation… despite the limitations
As time passes-by,
The little girl grows in fascination
More visible women are out there
Raising their voices in frustration
They no longer accept second-places
They no-longer sat in resignation
The reality doors are shut but the virtual ones are forcedly-opened
With fierce determination
The women in black want their rights
Demanding full participation
Campaigning for municipal elections, driving,
Minimum marital age or right of self- representation
Commenting on international treaties for women,
Gender-equality, or women-rights affiliation
They are loud and visible
No longer silent, passive, or fearing condemnation
They write, blog, tweet, and post
In a constant flow of information
They build networks and constituencies
Unlimited by gender-segregation,
No longer helpless or maintained
As prisoners of infinite duration…
Yes, we are in a constant fear of social backlash
But the power of words defeats organizations
The little girl recalls the single woman in black…
Whenever she feels a hesitation…
Beautiful and powerful in her own way…
A woman, who defeats stagnation…
We will not be deprived
We are a different generation….
And if countries can be flipped over and start anew
In search of liberation
We, too, the women in black
Can exceed our own expectations…
For the first time in Saudi Arabia’s history, women are able to vote, register as candidates and run for office in the municipal elections, held from December 12. These are the first polls since the 2011 decision by late Saudi King Abdullah to grant women the right to vote and run for office.
The little girl’s dream in Hala’s poem has become true.
“First Saudi Women Register to Vote.” – Al Jazeera English. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.