In an effort to bolster female participation in industry, Saudi Arabia is building a city entirely for female workers in the eastern part of the desert kingdom. The city is supposed to allow women to be productive without violating strict Wahhabi rules prohibiting integration of sexes.
Interestingly, some of the more conservative elements of Wahhabi Islam seem to jibe with radical feminist ideals, such as removal of men from women’s lives.
Saudi Arabia, which operates under Sharia Law, does not forbid women from having jobs. But only 15 percent of the country’s workforce is female, and the women-only city is expected to increase that figure.
Under Wahhabism, the branch of Sunni Islam that governs the laws of Saudi Arabia, there is segregation of men and women, with most women working for all-female firms, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Even before construction gets underway on the women-only city, other similar enclaves are being planned throughout the kingdom, according to al-Rasheed.
“We have plans to establish a number of women-only industries in various parts of the kingdom,” he told the Daily Mail.
East Asian societies, such as Korea in the 1960s and 70s and then China in the 80s and 90s, harnessed female labor most effectively, but only through a brutal lack of concern for women who made the wrong choices. Without any hope of support, unwed expectant mothers aborted children in the vast majority of cases, and those who followed through and had children were cast out into the street with nothing. Such callous treatment of women is highly unlikely in Islamic society, which invented chivalry and honors the feminine to a degree unknown in Confucian societies.
Radical gender segregation will only come back to haunt Saudi leaders, because women instinctively seek a male patron, and cut loose from family they will naturally “marry” the state or the corporations they work for. Furthermore, men will have to run the infrastructure of the city, including transportation, plumbing, power generation and other male occupations.
The result, inevitably, will be a great deal of prostitution of one sort or another in these cities, and even more fornication. Harems, as oriental potentates have known for ages, can only be maintained with massive, expensive security. Virtual armies of eunuchs were required to keep an eye on sultans’ and Chinese emperors’ harems, and even that probably wasn’t enough to prevent a fair amount of fooling around.
The genius of monogamy lies in the fact that every husband is tasked with keeping an eye on only one wife, obviating the need for formal sexual control of females. And even in that setup it’s always been a difficult job.
The reason female sexuality has always required control is that motherhood is expensive to maintain, as the US armed forces are discovering since the integration of women. Unwed motherhood requires a social tax, whether formal or not, and people have always chafed at having to pay this price.
As Wahhabism crumbles under feminist pressure, we can expect to see a very rapid destabilization of the Islamic family – as well as loosening sexual mores – in Saudi Arabia. Islam has not always been known for its strict sexual morality, and in fact Westerners saw eastern lands as nirvanas of sexual liberation as recently as the early 20th century. While Britain seethed under the restrictions of bourgeois Victorian morality in the 19th century, men fantasized about the forbidden pleasures of Turkish baths, oriental brothels and dancing girls.
It was only in the postwar era that decadence was reversed, and Islam came to be seen as a more restrictive regime. However, that era is probably coming to a close, even as the West reaches its moral nadir.