Saudi women are the most powerful symbol of their rapidly-changing country. The Western political and academic debate has presented activists such as Loujain Al Hathloul and Samar Badawi as the heroic voice of all Saudi women. The Saudi government has focused, instead, on a nationalistic rhetoric that presents Saudi women as the willing, obedient, and heroic handmaids of the New Saudi Arabia who speak with the voice of the Enlightened Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Ironically, both approaches have silenced the people they are meant to empower, Saudi women. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Eyes of Saudi Women argues that Saudi women cannot be empowered by the imposition from above of Western-inspired reforms and that the future of Saudi Arabia is firmly grounded in its past. Anita Butera provides a unique account of Saudi women’s voices and their dreams for the future of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The author concludes that MbS, by allowing the entrance of women into public space independently from men, has allowed Saudi women to start a silent revolution that is changing the patriarchal system of Saudi Arabia and challenging the masculine nature of Saudi power.
Anita C. Butera is assistant professor of criminal justice at Canisius College. She has lived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and helped train the new generation of Saudi women lawyers. She is a member in good standing of the New York State Bar and is admitted to practice in Federal Courts.
Table of Contents
Preface – Feminizing Saudi Arabia
Part I Introduction- The Saudi Arabia That Is: Politics, Religion, and Oil
Chapter 1- The Warrior King and the Birth of Saudi Arabia: Turning Defeats into Victories
Chapter 2- The International Becoming of Saudi Arabia: Reforms, PanIslamism, Wahhabism, and Women
Chapter 3- Distorted Economic Growth of Consumption: Kafala, Oil, and Radical Jihadism
Chapter 4- Governing Saudi Arabia: Religion is Power
Chapter 5- Reforming the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: King Salman and Mohammed bin Salman
Part II Introduction- The Saudi Arabia That Can Be: Women, Patriarchy, and Change
Chapter 6- Globalization, Westernization, and Nationalism: Saudi Vision 2030 and Women
Chapter 7- The Feminization of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Legal Profession and the Majlis Al Shura
Chapter 8- Reforming Family Relations: Marriage, Divorce, and Child Custody
Chapter 9- Social Stratification and the New Saudi Arabia: Gender, Domestic Workers, and Shias
Conclusion- All Must Change So That All Stays the Same
About the Author
The book provides an innovative insight into the changes within Saudi Arabia, particularly as a result of the monarchy’s combination of economic, legal, and political reforms that opened spaces for women. The author is able to offer readers a deeper analysis of the legal system and the role of new generations of Saudi women lawyers because she helped give them legal training. By assessing women’s new status under the Saudi regime, the author also takes a different approach to the criticism leveled by feminist activists who question the monarchy’s support among women and whether women genuinely enjoy more rights. This is a timely book to understand changes in Islamic societies from a different perspective than the Western conception of modernity.