Do we treat kids like the Saudi's treat their women?

I see an interesting parallel. In short:

Saudi men don’t let their women out of the house alone. If they do, they will get severely judged by other men, women, and maybe arrested by the religious police. People will say they are not protecting their womenfolk from sexual attacks.
And this is a relatively new phenomenon; Saudi women went about much freer before the eighties. Increased wealth has allowed women to stay indoor, not have to work, and it is a status symbol to have a Pakistani driver to drive them everywhere they have to be.

American parents don’t let their kids out of the house alone. If they do, they will be severely judged by other by other men, women, and parents, and they may get arrested by Child Protection Services. People will say they are not protecting their kids from sexual attacks.
And this is a relatively new phenomenon; kids went about much freer before the eighties. Increased wealth has allowed kids to play indoor, for parents to sypervise them with electronics, and it is a status symbol for their parents to be able to drive them everywhere they have to be.

Am I the only one who sees a parallel here?

I thought of this when I read The National Geographic. There’s an interesting article on Saudi women in this month’s issue. The women themselves explain how they feel about wearing a veil, the sexually segregated community, and about the constrictions that society puts on them. The article can be read here for free. A quote from the article:

I’m Dutch, but we usually adopt most of the US cultural mores some time after you do.

I’m a parent myself and I notice a cultural restriction, even in the Netherlands, in how free range I can let my kid be.
Sure, I can make a realistic assessment of how safe my particular kid will be, judging traffic, bullies, weather, water, and the teensy tiny chance of meeting a child rapist. I also take into account the fact that my kid will on the whole be safer if he is trusted with age-appropriate independence to learn and get self-confident.
But I also noticed that I have to take into account what other parents will think of me, and that there is a tendency to judge parents, erring on the side of overprotectiveness. Even here, and from what I’ve read, even more in the US.

You forgot to mention how we don’t let kids work either.
But this analogy is very tortured. Despite scare cases, many kids are allowed out of the house alone - and certain teenagers are. I live across from an elementary school, and plenty of kids walk by themselves. Still more walk to the junior high and high school a few blocks away. Way too many parents drive their kids (especially when I want to get out of my driveway) but at least some are doing it because of busy streets, not fear of predators.
But the main place the analogy fails is that women are equal to men in all relevant ways, while children are not equal to adults in terms of experience, size, strength, etc.
Nice try but no cigar.


Women are equal to men in terms of size and strength?

Nope. Women are not equal to men in all relevant ways when your list of relative ways includes size and strength.

Actually, I think teenagers have been getting much, much more repressed in the last five decades or so. They’ve gone from being fledgling adults who were naive and needed guidance, but were capable and trustworthy, to practically no different from elementary schoolers. Elementary schoolers are more repressed than they were when I was one in the 70s, but the difference isn’t as great. The way people regard teenagers today vs. the way I was treated in the 1980s shocks me, and I know that teens were even freer in the 1960s.

It’s no wonder they behave like oppressed people-- they are.

I think the analogy works, but in reverse: the Saudi’s treat their women like children.

Cultures throughout the world guide and protect children because they are small, vulnerable, unable to care for themselves (in varying degrees as they grow), don’t have the knowledge and experience to properly judge situations and make appropriate choices, and the decision-making function in their brains have not yet fully formed.

With the exception of the fact that women are, on average, smaller than men, none of these circumstances apply to women, and for a society to treat women as if they do is demeaning, degrading and wrong.


My understanding is that women are considered minors in Saudi Arabia, not adults in the Wetern sense.

Come on, Blake. The context of this thread is how we treat people, not what physical capabilities they have. Our legal system treats men an women equally in pretty much all matters.

Excellent point.

Wring. The poster specifically noted physical capabilities as the reason why we treat people in certain ways. They then went on to say that women were equal to men on those defining physical characteristics, while noting that children were not.

Saudi Arabia treats objects like women, man.

Eh. You’re reading way too much into that post. He’s talking about how children are different from adults in relevant ways, which they are. But if you really want to sore a coup, I won’t stop you.


People actually like their children.

I don’t really want to argue if either of these (over)protectiveness is justified (Okay then, in both cases, I would say it isn’t. As other cultures and times prove). My main point is that in both cultures, shame, a.k.a. “What will the neighbors think of me” plays a bigger part then rational arguments, in determining how much protection should be extended. (For a related concept, see, shame-culture versus guilt culture).

And that in both cases, sexual shame and honor plays a larger part then rationally justified. A cultural link between sex and honor is something that masculine cultures ( like the US and Saudi Arabia) have in common. Such a link is largely absent in more feminine cultures like Sweden.

Seriously dude? Claiming that Saudi men and women don’t like or love their mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, co-workers and friends does not strike me as realistic. Or conductive to a better understanding of similarities and differences between cultures. Besides, women do as much, or more, of the judging of their fellow women as do the men. That said the NG article.

And why I bring this up? To understand more of how seemingly sane people in Saudi Arabia can be so strange and -to us- unpleasant in how they treat women. I wanted to find a cultural counterpart that is normal to us, to understand a little bit better, why.

I think SpoilerVirgin explained it. The analogy sort of works, but in the opposite direction.

Do you really think people don’t understand?

I mean, I think we can find all kinds of cultural practices abhorrent and still understand why they are perpetuated. Take American slavery, for instance. People will sometimes say, “How could people have been so cruel!” But deep down, I think we all understand the basis of the practice. If slavery were legal today, I think many of us would engage in it. It’s not the practice of slavery that befuddles us. No, what’s confusing is that the notion of negro inferiority persisted even when there was plenty of counter-evidence. Thomas Jefferson had met Benjamin Banneker and Phyllis Wheatley but still insisted that the low intellect of the negro made him/her suitable for enslavement. It’s this kind of cognitive dissonance that people don’t understand.

The “why” behind the Saudis’ treatment of women isn’t so difficult to understand. What we need help understanding is why it has taken the Saudis’ so long to realize they have been wrong.

I’d like to think that if we had evidence that children were born with a full complement of wisdom and intelligence and it was evident they were fully capable of taking care of themselves, we’d allow them to have a lot more freedom. Maybe it would take a while to convince everyone. But it seems to me as soon as we started seeing youtube videos of babies parallel parking SUVs, it would only take a few years before we started issuing them driver’s licenses. So why has it taken the Saudis’ so long to adapt to new information?

Even that’s not to difficult to grasp - people believe what they want to believe, and what they want to believe is what benefits them. Slavery proponents wanted to believe that blacks were inferior, so they did. Same thing with the Saudis. Evidence isn’t really a factor.

My point is that, maybe, Saudi men or women don’t really think their women are inferior, any more then people in the US think their children are inferior.

It’s just that being seen to “protect” their innocence from sex makes you look like you are a morally good and responsible person.

Related concept: American dads threatening their daughters boyfriends. Ironically, probably. Or is it?

I’m just not getting why you can’t understand the difference between a child and an adult. Children are not “inferior”, they’re… children. Their brains and bodies are not fully developed, and so the need protection. Adult women do not.

Look at it this way. Every species of mammal does something to protect its young. Every single species. We are no different. That is because children are not just smaller, less intelligent adults. Children are smaller, less intelligent, less experienced and less emotionally developed than adults. That is why the analogy breaks down. We are not oppressing our children-- the Saudis are oppressing their women.

Didn’t we just have a “OMG, the kids today have no freedom compared to when I was a kid, #horror!” thread? Or have I just been here too long?

Possibly the most tortured comparison this year. The OP forgot another minor difference: 1 group is a bunch of kids while the other group is grown women. I might not let my 8yo walk a mile, going underneath I-10 to get to the grocery store, but, six years later, my 14yo daughter is welcome to do that any time she wants.