02 April 2012

Women are Trash?

There's been a fight going on in the blogosphere over the last year or so (maybe more, I'm not a regular here, so I don't really know) and it's over Muslim women's bodies.  I, of course, am no Muslim woman, but, I have - here, on this blog, and on other forums - spoken about it before.  It's about the veil, and how Muslim women's bodies have become the source for a kind of "East-meets-West" battle.

It may seem like a new argument, but it's been around as long as colonialism has been mucking up the world.  Spivak coined the phrase "white men saving brown women from brown men" as a way of describing the British abolishing the practice of suttee (widows burning themselves on their husbands' funeral pires) in colonial India, but it can be - and often has been - used to describe the more current battle over the headscarf (hijab) and the full face veil (niqab).  Instead of giving Muslim women agency, instead of asking them why and how and all the other "wh" questions, Western men AND women increasingly argue against the covering of the body with no contextual knowledge, no cultural knowledge, and, honestly, no experience living amongst or even talk to Muslim women.

The picture below is a case in point:



What words come to mind when you see this image?  For one blogger, it was the following:
Anyone sees a difference? I don’t.. What sadness, what shame to not exist. I am tolerant, and supportive of any Religion and Faith.. as long as it brings humanity goodness and spiritual comfort. In Islam I have no problem at all, with Hijab (headscarf/ veil), as it exists in Christianity and Judaism. But this takes the cake, WTF is this? Sorry, NO.. and don’t get on that hype of the handful (brainwashed) women that choses this over hijab, the majority of women opposes this.
Got No problem, when women chose to dress modestly, show less skin, it’s all good, I am not advocating nudity and walking around with your stuff exposed and hanging around, but this… come on now!!!!! gimme a f*cking break.
PS: pay attention to the Child abuse! or did you think that child next to that Dementor, is wearing it out of free will.
But many bloggers responded in this manner:
IT IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE: IF YOU COMPARE WOMEN TO TRASH BAGS, THEN YOU ARE THE ONE DEHUMANIZING THEM. 
It's a tricky subject.  But I tend to fall on the side of the second argument.  And yet, I could never picture myself wearing niqab, and I would want to have serious conversations with a woman who did choose to wear it.  And, that is what I'm hoping to do!  Oman is known for being much more conservative, in clothing choice among other things, than Morocco, and so I am hoping to make friends who wear niqab - a rather lofty goal because of my own biases - and see what life for them is truly like.

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