The stereotype of women and driving in the Middle East is that the two do not mix (aren’t allowed to in the case of Saudi Arabia). But there’s a group of women overcoming this stereotype by doing what they love: not just driving, but RACING.
The Speed Sisters have been garnering international attention over the last few years as the first female team of racers in the Middle East, and now the attention is back while they film a documentary with director Amber Fares. The documentary - still in production - follows the Sisters not just through their races, but also as they navigate their everyday lives and pressures. The film's website elaborates on the role of the sport in their lives: "Racing, then, is far more than a thrill for the Speed Sisters. Taking the wheel represents an insistence on the right to mobility, a taste of hope and independence, and the stubborn belief that a larger and wider future is possible in their lives as women and as Palestinians."
They’re certainly faced with their share of obstacles. There are clerics calling street racing an un-Islamic and forbidden sport for women (big surprise, considering that cars kill ovaries). And although some male fans cheer on the Sisters, people still insist that it’s inappropriate for women to race.
Sam Gilbert at Vice hung out with the Sisters driving around the West Bank, which is a land all about blockades. One of the drivers, Betty Saadeh, tells Gilbert, “You feel like you’re in prison here, with all these walls… It restricts me from moving freely. I wish I could drive to Jerusalem, the beach in Tel Aviv—just normal stuff.” Normal stuff, which I’m guessing doesn’t include being attacked with tear gas while practicing, an experience Betty mentioned to Gilbert.
There’s a clear thread of mobility and control, and the Speed Sisters are setting an awesome example that’s clearly resonating—even Anthony Bourdain goes along for a ride. You can check out the film’s trailer below and donate to the production.
Speed Sisters Trailer (in Production) from SocDoc Studios on Vimeo.
Thanks to Vice, NPR, and the Speed Sisters.
Images via Speed Sisters – The Film and Vice.