Sunday, May 22, 2011
I have long been fascinated by a woman’s decision (free or not) to cover herself with the hijab, niqab or burqa. As part of her religion, I understand the compelling need to adhere to its traditions, but I am more interested in the deeper issue of why exactly, it is necessary. Overwhelmingly, Muslim women claim that it is liberating and gives them a feeling of self respect, protection and confidence. Covering up protects them from the inquisitive eyes of men. It “stems from male jealousy and the subjugation of women.”*
A Muslim woman should only reveal herself to her close male relatives. God understands that men cannot help their unholy sexual feelings and should be shielded from a woman’s allure. This will allow marriages to be strong and long lasting. The basic presumption is that men can’t control themselves and it is the woman’s responsibility to temper this by her actions and attire.
What irritates me about the hijab and burqa, is its symbolic willingness to forgive men’s indecent urges: the acceptance that revealing a woman’s beauty is potentially harmful to her. Whilst part of being male and human is to fantasize about sex, I’m not sure that the style of a woman’s clothing affects that to any significant degree. Is a man more aroused in summer than winter? Do sexual assault statistics vary according to fashion? From what statistics are available, Muslim women are no safer from sexual assault in their own countries than their Western counterparts. Women are still vulnerable no matter what clothes they choose to wear.
In the East and the West, the onus is on the woman to avoid sexual assault and keep herself safe from sexually deviant and violent men. This is the essence of the problem. Being raped or abused is not the fault of the victim. It is the perpetrator’s fault and this is what needs to be accepted and dealt with. “Eradicating rape depends as much on educating people about this crime as it does on legal reform”.** In many Muslim countries, the rape of a woman is her own fault anyway, and she is heavily punished for it, often by stoning. How does the Muslim woman reconcile that? She already taken away the temptation by covering her beauty. Isn’t that enough?
In Canada recently, a policeman told a group of schoolgirls that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” It’s a distinctly Muslim point of view and not uncommon in the West. If a woman was raped here when dressed conservatively, would that make the crime more punishable? Most women do feel safer when covering their beauty than when revealing it and that is the tragedy. Dressing to diminish the danger makes it her fault.
Outrage at the Canadian policeman’s comments has resulted in the worldwide ‘SlutWalk’. It’s taking place in Melbourne this Saturday and I think it’s brilliant. If you’re a woman, gay, a geek, transvestite, overweight, tattooed, disabled, retarded, Asian, African, Muslim, a ‘wog’, Aboriginal, or a person that has in any way felt the glare of public dissaproval then you should march too. Wearing your identity should not make you a target of rape or violence. We must avoid symbolically wearing the burqa and instead make violence and vilification unacceptable.
We are our best when we are accepted for the person we are regardless of what we wear or how we look. The society we live in is enriched when it’s people are given the right to freely express themselves. Veiling our beauty, our identity, is not the answer. Women dressing as ‘sluts’? Bring it on! “All the freaky people make the beauty of the world”. Michael Franti
*Father Samir Khalir Samir, famous orientalist, Islamic scholar, and author of the book 111 Questions on Islam: Samir Khalil Samir on Islam and the West
**Joanna Bourke, professor and author of Rape: Sex, Violence, History.
Here's an interesting video. A couple of French students decided to protest against the country's new law banning the burqa. I love the irreverence of it and the the way it reveals the taboos that exist simultaneously around modesty and exhibitionism. I post it with complete respect towards the Muslim faith.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
I have severe writers block. Not just now but an ongoing reluctance to write anything at all. I constantly feel pressure to be out there writing blogs, commenting on other people's blogs and facebook pages and twitter feeds and so many more threads of crap that I don't understand or care about and yet I don’t.
And it's not like I haven't got anything to say - my job provides the perfect opportunity to write lots of interesting things. It's just that I can't be bothered. I know that sounds really bad and I feel really guilty but most of the stuff people write on the internet just doesn't interest me. And I am a voracious reader!
Because all of these words floating around in cyberspace just reek of self promotion and narcissism. I guess that is exactly what it's supposed to be but since when have we had to relentlessly spit out vacuous drivel just to attract people to OUR business as opposed to other people’s? Can't we just list ourselves in the directory, have a phone number, provide a great service and be done with it?
Noooo, now we have to set up a Facebook page, a website, a blog, myspace, a twitter feed, youtube, be Linkedin, and have email, fax, telephone, gmail a mobile and the list goes on. Don't even get me started on StumbleUpon, Delicious, Digg and Friendstar. I don't even know what they are yet.
For a person like me who's not that great with computers, it takes a loooong time to work out what all these things are, how to use them then apply them and make them better than everyone else's. The pressure is on! And then you go ahead and set them up and what do you say? 'Gee the weather's cold.' 'Has anyone seen my brain?' 'What time is it?' "Wow your hair looks nice in that photo'. "Isn't that dog cute?'
I don't hang out at school to talk to the mums, I don't have a circle of friends that I drink and gossip with. I find most conversations with women about their husbands and daily lives about as boring as batshit. I hardly ever text, my mobile is used mostly for work and I avoid answering the phone and sending emails. I hardly ever look at my Facebook page and if someone from my old high school wants to become my 'friend' I just think it's plain stupid. You weren't my friend then so why would you want to be now? It's just curiosity and voyeurism. I just don't care!
I know this makes me a bit weird, but my life feels pretty full as it is. But I AM supposed to use all this social media to help my business. And I won’t lie to you and pretend that the only reason I attempt it is because of my business. It’s a job and one that I am really crap at. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written in my diary ‘Look at Facebook,’ ‘Write a blog a month,’ ‘Investigate Twitter,’ - all to no avail. I fail miserably at self-promotion - it just feels so......American.
I do love talking to customers and I love using what I know and have learnt over the years to help people, so I think I’ll just get on with trying to write about what really means something to me and not about what I had for dinner last night. (Pesto pasta with sardines, anchovies, tomatoes, olives and lemon). The red wine I enjoyed with it doesn’t help my writing efforts either by the way.