Women in Saudi Arabia have long been fighting against the male guardianship system that has been described as a hindrance to their progress for decades. Under it, a male guardian, usually a father, brother, or husband, has legal rights over most major aspects of a woman's life, including her freedom of movement and ability to work.

In recent months, some men in the kingdom have also raised their voices against the system, including Fawaz Al Harbi, a Saudi father who criticized the patriarchy in a now-viral tweet.

In the post shared earlier this week, Al Harbi attached screenshots of a conversation he had with his daughter who was asking his permission to travel for a weekend - even though he'd signed a permit allowing her to move freely as long as her passport is valid. 

In his caption, the father debunked major myths associated with guardianship in the country including that it "forces women to respect men" and prevents them from "fleeing their homes."

"Her passport is with her, her travel permit is valid until her passport expires, her money is in her bank account and she didn't escape, she asked her father permission to travel even though she's an adult. I didn't need the male guardianship system to make my daughter respect me. Trust brings forth respect." 

Al Harbi's post caught the attention of Saudis soon after it was uploaded on Twitter. 

Many were incredibly moved by the man's words and his criticism of the system which still treats the approval of male guardians as a pre-requisite to women traveling alone.

However, there were a few who were upset by his post because they thought it enforced the rhetoric that a woman must "ask for permission" before she makes any personal decision. 

Some Saudi women were moved by this father's post

"Me right now." 

"I wish you were my father, I am 20 and my parents won't let me travel"

"How to be a great father 101"

Others raised this point

"It's her basic right to life"

Because a woman's life shouldn't depend on the "kindness" of a male guardian

"And what if the relationship between me and my male guardian isn't built on respect and trust? Isn't he going to stop me from doing so many things because I need his permission? What if he isn't responsible enough? Will he stop me from studying abroad and helping build my country using my education?"

A few also criticized this aspect of the father's tweet

"I don't think her asking for permission or not has anything to do with being respectful. It's related to preferences and personal freedom. If she had chosen to travel without permission that doesn't make her any less respectful." 

Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system

Women are discriminated against in nearly all aspects of public and private life, mainly due to a legal code influenced by a fundamentalist interpretation of Sharia law.

Saudi women have been demanding a complete and total shut down of the kingdom's male guardianship system for years. In recent months, Saudi Arabia has amended a number of laws in an effort to empower women in the kingdom, including opening municipal elections to female candidates and making women's verbal consent to marriage mandatory. 

In 2017, King Salman issued a new royal decree that frees women from their male guardians when it comes to government services (i.e. applying for work permits, medical and educational services). The order, however, does not allow women to obtain their own passport or travel abroad without a male relative's permission. That same year, Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on women driving, ending the long-standing policy that has been heavily criticized since 1990. 

A month later, the kingdom announced women will be able to attend sporting events in stadiums starting 2018.

This all puts a dent in the kingdom's guardianship system, but women rightfully want more. They want the entire system to fall apart, they want their right to unconditional freedom.