CNN (August 12, 2009)
"Rowaida Abdelaziz doesn't want your pity.
"She doesn't want your frosty public stares; the whispers behind her back; the lament that she's been degraded by her father.
"What the Muslim high school senior wants you to understand is that she doesn't wear the hijab, the head scarf worn by Muslim women, because she is submissive.
" 'It represents beauty to me,' says Abdelaziz, the 17-year-old daughter of two Egyptian parents living in Old Bridge, New Jersey.
" 'My mom says a girl is like a jewel,' Abdelaziz says. 'When you have something precious, you usually hide it. You want to make sure you keep it safe until that treasure is ready to be found.'
"The nation has heard plenty of debate over racial profiling. But there's a form of religious profiling that some young Muslim women in America say they endure whenever they voluntarily wear the hijab...."
I strongly recommend reading the rest of the article. "Oppression" may not be what you think it is.
Civilization is More than Bikinis and Nipple RingsBack in the mid-sixties, I read an article in a major American magazine, a respected publication that's been around for generations. The article was on then-contemporary Iran. That country, the article informed us, was progressing wonderfully and embracing Western culture. An example of this excellent and admirable progress was the growing acceptance - and presence - of bikinis on Iranian beaches.
'You've come a long way, baby....'
I was in my early teens at the time, but the odd idea that bikinis were tied to all that is civilized and advanced caught my attention. Over the years, I saw the same general idea getting exposure in magazines and the occasional serious discussion. The assumption that there was a direct correlation with the acreage of nubile female skin showing in public and 'progress' was quite wide-spread in the West. Sometimes the word was 'advancement' or 'liberation' or whatever the adjective for 'right' or 'good' was at the time.
I wasn't convinced, then, that treating a woman's body as an object to be displayed and marketed was necessarily representative of the highest and noblest ideals and aspirations of Western civilization. I'm even more dubious about the notion now.
I know: Islamic crazies in Saudi Arabia make pronouncements about clothing that Freud would have had a field day with; about a year and a half ago a father (allegedly) killed his daughter here in America - because she didn't wear a scarf like he wanted. (October 4, 2008, December 12, 2007)
That's crazy, and wrong.
Happily, nobody in America seems to have been killed for wearing a hijab, but it seems that hot-blooded American men feel they have a right to get a good look at a babe before they make a pass.
This is civilized?!
Yeah, I'm BiasedI haven't conformed to mainstream American culture for decades, and can't say that I'm sorry about it. I like this country just fine - but I don't think that the prevalence of bikinis is an accurate indicator of a civilization's excellence, and I've got a very old-fashioned idea that women do not exist primarily for giving men sexual gratification: directly or indirectly.
About that hijab? Rowaida Abdelaziz, in the CNN photo, is showing a bit more skin on her face that some women around here do. They're not Ay-rabs, they're not Musims: they're Catholics who got fed up with the 'flash us some flesh, babe' culture.
Europeans haven't worn that sort of thing since the late Middle Ages, as a rule: but coverings for the head and body are not all that rare. Maybe this is a case where Westerners should take their cultural blinders off, and re-evaluate this culture's customs and norms.
Let's consider the possibility that a woman might have the right to not put herself on display in public.
- "Pray for Neda: And Learn About the Real Iran"
(June 26, 2009)
- "A Hijab, Bullies, and a Do-Nothing School System"
(April 8, 2009)
- "Being Counter-Cultural in 21st Century America"
A Catholic Citizen in America (March 17, 2009)
- "Saudi Cleric Wants Women to Use One Eye - I'm Not Making This Up"
(October 4, 2008)
- "TSA: Our Tax Dollars at Work: Protecting the Flying Public from Nipple Rings"
(March 27, 2008)
- "All's Quiet on the Harvard Front: Jiggling Gymnast Segregation Continues"
(March 3, 2008)
- "Juashaunna Kelly's Track Suit Disqualifies her: Islamophobia? an Official on a Power Trip? or Bureaucratic Cluelessness?"
(January 16, 2008)
- " 'They’re all Muslims' - This Does Not Help"
(December 29, 2007)
- "Canadian Teen Killed by Muslim Father - Over Scarf: Maybe - And This Isn't News?"
(December 12, 2007)