powered by BCT Publishing
Automotive Traveler Magazine: Vol 3 Iss 3 Page 9

Fashion yourself as a pro-woman company while selling to a market in which almost 13 million women are forbidden from using your product, and you should not be surprised at becoming a lightning rod for discontent.

New petitions related to the Saudi movement have sprung up in recent weeks, among them calls for the likes of Oprah and Angelina Jolie to join the "Honk for Saudi Women Drivers" video campaign. In late July, a bipartisan all-women group of senators jumped on the bandwagon, announcing their intent to send a letter to Saudi King Abdullah urging him to end the ban on women driving. (Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine joined California's Barbara Boxer and her Democratic colleagues in signing the letter.)

Digital signatures to the Subaru petition continue to climb at a steady albeit slower pace (83,000 as of this writing). Yet as they do, the conversation is broadening. Turns out the issue is not as black and white as we in the West might think.

How easy it is for us to sit, heads bare, in coffee shops and offices where men and women mingle equally and summon up a shocked "No way!" reaction to the idea of someone taking away our right to drive. The issue is a political one (a human rights one, according to the activists) that understandably has a strong emotional component for all of us. The freedom to drive is one of the most obvious manifestations of the freedom of movement we enjoy here in the West, and especially in the United States. To most Americans--and especially readers of this magazine--freedom of movement is essential to how we choose to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.

And how easy, too, it is to click the "Sign" button on a virtual petition and move on... on to the next e-mail, the next Facebook post, the next cause. All without learning more about the subtler aspects of the issue at hand--or the unintended consequences were a given petition to succeed.

Neither Subaru nor any other automaker the activists may target (GM has been mentioned) operate in a vacuum. If their presence serves as a quiet force for good--offering equal pay for the segregated male