Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

September 15, 2010

A New Twist on Veiling: Burqa Barbie

Yes, you did indeed hear that correctly. I found this video via Susie's Big Adventure Blog and I busted up laughing!! Since Islam is still on my brain and I have been thinking about how to answer my own query put to you about the difference between the motivation of the provocatively dressed woman and the excessively veiled (Islamic) woman. I think this little video illuminates some of my own thoughts, as does this 2002 Op-Ed by Maureen Dowd (I know, I know, she is mostly awful, but this is fascinating). She writes of her experience in Saudi Arabia that she has with their morality police about not being properly veiled in public at a mall in Riyadh with one of her (male and native) friends:
The three-story mall was so chockablock with designer stilettos, bondage boots, transparent blouses and glittering gowns with plunging necklines that it would have made Las Vegas blush.

I felt drab, dressed in black to suit Saudi standards with a scarf over my hair, a long skirt, a sweater over a T-shirt and flats. An earlier outing with a pink skirt had caused my Ministry of Information minder to bark: ''Get your abaya! They'll kill you!''. . . . Suddenly, four men bore down on us, two in white robes, one in a brown policeman's uniform and one in a floor-length brown A-line skirt (not a good look). They pointed to my neck and hips, and the embarrassed diplomat explained that I had been busted by the vice squad.

''They say they can see the outline of your body,'' he translated. ''They say they welcome you to the mall, which is a sign of our modernity, but that we are also proud of our tradition and faith, and you must respect that.'' The police took my passport and began making notes about the crime, oblivious to the irony of detaining me in front of the window of another lingerie shop displaying a short lacy red slip.
This is precisely what does not make sense to me about the whole Islamic veiling phenomenon: women are demanded to veil to cover their bodies which are viewed as sexual objects. However, it seems that even the women themselves see their bodies that way!! And, what's more - as long as it is within the bounds of marriage, they revel in it!! (Never mind the whole polygamy issue that is legal in many Islamic countries, such as Saudi Arabia). This seems to me to the paradox that is well...ridiculous. No one wants to see women dressed in shorts or a skirt that has her backside hanging out and tops that show more than anyone cares to see. But the other extreme, burqas and niqabs - simply seems to me to encourage it. As far as I can see, it is simply the same kind of sexual enslavement that we are constantly bombarded with through other means such as pornography, trashy clothes, and people like...Lady Gaga. And it is stuff like this that brings out that angry feminist in me. So I am done.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Edith, you are absolutely spot on! Wonderful post. You have identified what bothers me so much about the Islamic attitude to modesty - it is just as hyper-sexualized as our culture's attitude. Each seems to delight in encouraging both the fear of, and the glamourization of, a woman's body, instead of real reverence and love for this gift. It makes me so grateful for our Catholic faith, which is guided by the Holy Spirit and so balanced between whatever the extremes are!

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