With just one
funny YouTube video,
has made a difference
in more than
What does make this achievement unique, though, is the fact that this clip is earning this attention not just because it’s really funny and cool, but also because within that funny coolness there is an irresistible center of social activism.
The song was inspired by the current Women2Drive movement happening in Fageeh’s home country of Saudi Arabia, which remains the only country in the world where women are forbidden to operate motor vehicles. Released on the same day that movement urged women across the country to break the law and get behind the driver’s wheel, the song sounds like a gentle plea for the status quo, but the visuals and a few key lines (Say I remember when you used to sit / in the family car, but backseat / Ova-ovaries all safe and well / So you can make lots and lots of babies) give the game away and make it clear that it is pointing out the inherent absurdity of the law rather than supporting it.
That the song isn’t completely in your face with its message speaks to the risk Fageeh knows he is taking by posting the video. In interviews–like this one for euronews–he’s focused less on the implied message of the video (although he has publicly supported Women2Drive via social media) than on how he hopes it will change the global perception of his people, saying to euronews: “I’d like…for people to think that Arabs and Saudis can joke and they can laugh. I think that’s what is really important to us – that people abroad understand that.”
With “No Woman, No Drive” he is not only successfully sending that message, but also bringing attention to an important social issue and proving that activism can come in many different forms–including comedy.
Still, it’s surprising that some people remain surprised by this. For decades the best comedians around the world have used their humor to comment on the culture in which we live, often in ways that are very difficult to dismiss. In laughter there is often wisdom and as more people follow Fageeh’s example, the better off–and more entertained–we will be.