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  • Hijab and anti-feminism


    by Ala
    15th August, 2008 at 3:49 pm    

    It was very refreshing reading Naomi Alderman’s piece in G2 yesterday on hijabi olympians. How long I’ve waited for a feminist voice to say,

    What could be more anti-feminist than telling women that they don’t really know what they think?

    It is amazing how something as simple as a piece of cloth on someone’s head can become a damning self-depracating statement the world over that will make people either pity you, hate you, or want to marry you.

    Alderman alludes to the point that there is essentially no difference between a woman covering her hair under social pressure and covering her bare breasts. Yet only one action is condemned by people like AC Grayling for being a sign of complicity in one’s own oppression, regardless of the fact that some women cover their hair against their family’s wishes and purely for themselves. Such crass sweeping generalisations gloss over the multiple reasons people do the things they do: it is quite common for some women to cover their hair for totally non-religious reasons. Many, like me, just want to keep the peace, not stir controversy and attract attention to themselves in their communities, or simply keep their parents happy. How truly anti-feminist it is for anyone to feel they are in a moral position to criticise my choices.


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    1. The Common Humanist — on 15th August, 2008 at 4:06 pm  

      “Alderman rightly points out that there is essentially no difference between a woman covering her hair from male eyes and covering her bare breasts”

      On which planet?

      File that in the foolish drawer along with ‘having to shake a mans hand is like having to french kiss him’

      Both statements are infantile.

    2. marvin — on 15th August, 2008 at 4:29 pm  

      I don’t care about hijab. The one’s I see in hijabs actually appear sexier then if the didn’t have one. Lots wear designer clothes and makeup, and smell good. Kinda contradicts the point of modesty me thinks, but I’m not complaining on this front!

      Burqa and niqab on the other hand ARE a problem. You don’t conceal your face, you just dont do it. There’s no quranic law to say it either.

      Ala, you seem, to me to have a little bee in your bonnet about believing what you want to believe, don’t tell me what to do, kinda thing.

      So are you particularly religious person, or is it a cultural identity thing? If it’s the religious answer, I’d like to ask a couple of questions. (I’m an atheist, I like to question all people who are religious)

      What do you think should happen to people, who leave Islam? What should happen to a Muslim adulterer? Should a Muslim man be allowed four wives?

      I am just interested in your opinion, I haven’t come across you writing before so I’d like to get the bigger picture with you if that’s ok…

      For anyone thinking I’m being ‘Islamophobic’ I’d ask a religious Christian very tough questions too. Seriously.

    3. vampire — on 15th August, 2008 at 4:31 pm  

      Agree with TCH - you won’t hear men making comments on uncovered hair but i bet you will get a reaction to a woman walking down the street showing her tits.

    4. bananabrain — on 15th August, 2008 at 4:47 pm  

      not in the netherlands or scandinavia. and have you not been on a french or spanish beach?

      you don’t know what you’re talking about?

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    5. Gurpreet — on 15th August, 2008 at 5:02 pm  

    6. Sid — on 15th August, 2008 at 5:07 pm  

      What could be more anti-feminist than telling women that they don’t really know what they think?

      Religious people like symbolism. So perhaps they should be the last people to complain if the hijab is (widely) symbolic of male oppression of women.

      Has Naimo Alderman ever been to South Asia? Most women who are oppressed there do not wear the hijab. And perhaps most women who wear the hijab are not oppressed. And yet the correlation exists and the hijab is as good as a symbol as any of oppression.

    7. Ravi Naik — on 15th August, 2008 at 5:14 pm  

      Actually, it is not infantile, Common Humanist - it seems a reasonable comparison to me. It pisses me off that people have a problem with hijab - for crying out it is covering your hair, like a hat, a kippah or even a wig - I don’t really care what are the motivations behind it.

      However, covering your face in public is a completely different matter, as there is a physical barrier that prevents equal social interaction, which should not surprise anyone considering it has precisely that purpose.

      Our face conveys our individual identity: to cover it is either human right violation if it is forced, or a pathology if one feels the need to cover when in public.

    8. soru — on 15th August, 2008 at 5:28 pm  

      File that in the foolish drawer along with ‘having to shake a mans hand is like having to french kiss him’

      The question is not whether they are the _same_, but whether they are, or should be, _equal_.

      You can break every claim for equal treatment up into 4 cases:

      1. things that are pretty much the same, but simple stupidity or prejudice causes them to be treated differently.
      Example: races.

      2. things that aren’t the same, but can be treated as equal at minimal cost or disadvantage to anyone. Example: gay relationships.

      3. things that aren’t the same, but can be treated as equal at a finite affordable cost judged by society to be worth paying.
      Examples: suspects, the disabled.

      4. things that aren’t the same, and society is unwilling, or unable, to pay the costs of equal treatment.
      Examples: non-citizens, slow learners.

      A lot of political controversies are about which of those 4 buckets a given thing should fit in. For example, the hijab seems to me to be clearly #2, the burqa #4 (it objectively hinders communication and identification, so there is a cost, and I don’t think you will find a collective consent to pay that cost).

      Those who disagree have a case to make.

    9. Ala — on 15th August, 2008 at 5:29 pm  

      The common humanist, you seem to be colluding with the sexists. Why is covering hair different from covering any other part of your body? Is it because other parts are sexier and therefore, according to you, should be covered? Wouldn’t that be a case of women taking the blame for the desires of men? If hair isn’t sexy as you say, why is everyone caring who covers it?

    10. beavis — on 15th August, 2008 at 5:42 pm  

      Why don’t men have to cover their hair?

    11. Ala — on 15th August, 2008 at 5:44 pm  

      Good question, beavis. Similarly, why don’t men have to cover their boobs?

    12. halima — on 15th August, 2008 at 6:07 pm  

      Good points Ala.

      if I saw half those people complain about the hijab complaning about female nudity at the same time - I’d take their claims that they take women’s rights seriously when they moan about the hijab.

      clearly they don’t - otherwise I’d see a zillion articles in the media about nudity. I don’t.

      I always thought women’s exploitation is what makes oppression oppressive in pornography - this is what makes female nudity exploitative, not the nudity itself.

      I’d draw the same analogy for the hijab/niqab - it’s the denail of the right to choose what a woman wears, that’s exploitative or pornographic, not the act itself. The act of wearing the hijab is irrelevent.

      A women’s right to choose, and denail of it, is what makes for oppression, not the act of wearing a hijab or taking your clothes off male pleasure.

      I’ve also heard some of my friends say that the hijab is also pornographic - using the logic that it, too, objectifies women’s bodies.

      I don’t agree with that - but it’s a very interesting analogy for feminists.

    13. Ala — on 15th August, 2008 at 6:27 pm  

      Marvin, darling, I wish you had paid attention to my article, but I’ll forgive you. I specifically said I wear the hijab for non-religious reasons, and I gave those: not attracting attention to myself in my community, not causing controversy, not upsetting parents etc. If you really must know, I’m agnostic.

      Seeing as though I’ve caused a lot of controversy purely by saying this and airing my views on my eponymous blog, it’s only a matter of time before I ‘come out’ to the people I know. However, less insane people than myself don’t make these huge lifestyle changes or bold statements, but stick with the religion of their parents, happily conforming, and making babies for the next generation so they can do they same thing. This is why sweeping generalisations about Muslims, or any group, seriously piss me off as they don’t take into account perennial human constraints like family and social expectation.

    14. Desi Italiana — on 15th August, 2008 at 6:59 pm  

      Halima:

      “I’ve also heard some of my friends say that the hijab is also pornographic - using the logic that it, too, objectifies women’s bodies.

      I don’t agree with that - but it’s a very interesting analogy for feminists.”

      Do you mean when people say that the fixation on the hijab- both the pro and anti- hijab arguments-is objectification? Because I do believe that using a woman’s body to make statements about feminism, power, equality, etc- whether arguing in favor of denuding or covering up- ultimately trumps the entire point in the first place: women should not have to resort to using their bodies as statements of ‘liberation’ and power. They should be able to secure the same rights, opportunities, etc with or without a hijab, and as Sid has pointed out, oppression hits women regardless of how they are dressed. This strive for equality in my mind does not really have to do with how one is dressed, though I do agree that state stipulations or social control which dictate how a woman should be dressed should be overcome.

    15. Desi Italiana — on 15th August, 2008 at 7:08 pm  

      “A women’s right to choose, and denail of it, is what makes for oppression, not the act of wearing a hijab or taking your clothes off male pleasure.”

      If I could say something in favor of the nude females, my friends in Italy would take off their tops on Italian beaches not for “male pleasure” but because it is not abnormal to be bare-chested on beaches. And really, why not? The guys go around topless and show their nipples, why can’t the women?

      I think it is a mistake to assume that women who wear the hijab do so because they are ‘modest’, whereas women who wear less do it for ‘male pleasure’.

    16. Desi Italiana — on 15th August, 2008 at 7:13 pm  

      To expand on my comment #14:

      “ultimately trumps the entire point in the first place: women should not have to resort to using their bodies as statements of ‘liberation’ and power.”

      Because historically and presently, power over women has been exercised through control over their bodies. Still using women’s bodies today to make statements about power and so on perpetuates the same ideology of objectification. This should stop, both on the end of society (men and women included), and feminists, whether arguing in favor of the hijab or not. We should recognize this objectification and 1) guarantee that every woman has the right to wear what she wants, along with men, and 2) her body and dress do not become the vehicles of liberation/oppression, but rather, her rights as an equal human being, etc

    17. Sunny — on 15th August, 2008 at 7:21 pm  

      And yet the correlation exists and the hijab is as good as a symbol as any of oppression.

      I guess the turban is a sign of oppression too?

      Look, the point is less about what men say women should do in order to cover themselves… because that is undeniably sexist.

      The point is more about why some women chose to wear it. And I’m not convinced every woman who wears it should be judged on that basis alone, because to me thats as sexist as judging a woman for wearing skimpy clothes.

    18. Sunny — on 15th August, 2008 at 7:26 pm  

      TCH - sexism isn’t merely about wearing what you want, because that would be a very shallow understanding of feminism.

      It is about letting women decide what they want to wear and let them define what clothing means to them.

      So, thinking a woman looks good only covered as least as possible is as sexist as someone who thinks a woman should be covered as much as possible.

      Similarly, just dimissing arguments as ‘infantile’ without understanding how a woman is defining a piece of clothing is sexist.

      Back to the drawing board.

    19. marvin — on 15th August, 2008 at 7:27 pm  

      Many, like me, just want to keep the peace, not stir controversy

      Great, sounds like the traditional role for a woman :D

      If you’re happy with that then I surely have no problem with it. But please don’t tell me it’s ‘anti-feminist’ to oppose the hijab. It seems you are doing more to hold back the feminist cause by perpetuating this thing. Perhaps you have younger siblings or relatives that look up to you for guidance, perhaps they really don’t want to wear the hijab. But they’ll have to, because everyone else is doing it.

      With respect, if you are doing it to hold the peace then fine, but I’d rather you didn’t insist it’s a progressive feminist position, and anyone disagreeing is an anti-feminist!

    20. Desi Italiana — on 15th August, 2008 at 7:45 pm  

      Ala:

      “Alderman rightly points out that there is essentially no difference between a woman covering her hair from male eyes and covering her bare breasts.”

      I think I missed it, but I didn’t find this in her article…

    21. halima — on 15th August, 2008 at 7:57 pm  

      Hi desi

      point 15

      Yes - taking yr clothes can just be that - nothing to do with pleasing others/titilating .

      I was making the point, quite badly, is that such acts are neutral - not signs of any oppression. If someone forces (directly and indirectly) then there’s a problem…

      will get back to the earlier point about hijab objectifying …

    22. Don — on 15th August, 2008 at 8:19 pm  

      Why is covering one’s hair an issue at all? My mum’s generation would have felt uncomfortable in church or any formal event without a hat, my grandma’s generation would generally wear some sort of headgear when they left the house or they wouldn’t feel ‘properly dressed’. Men, on the other hand, would always remove headgear indoors. I still feel a slight and entirely irrational niggle of annoyance when I see a man wearing a hat indoors.

      However, Grayling has a point. If the hijab is worn for ‘symbolic’ purposes then it is impossible to seperate the symbol from the context, and the context here is that we live in a world where millions of women are compelled to wear this covering by the threat of violence. So while it need not be a symbol of oppression in London or Amsterdam, it certainly is in Kabul or Tehran.

      It would be odd and unreasonable to object to the hijab per se, but not unreasonable to point out that there is a wider issue.

    23. Don — on 15th August, 2008 at 8:28 pm  

      “Alderman rightly points out that there is essentially no difference between a woman covering her hair from male eyes and covering her bare breasts.”

      So from that point of view a woman who walks into Tescos with uncovered hair is no different from a woman who does the same bare-breasted? Hmm. That’s an odd point of view and if anyone genuinely felt that way I’d have to question how well adjusted they were, or indeed safe.

      b’brain,

      I used to live in the Netherlands, it was a long time ago so maybe times have changed, but is it really the case that a woman who walks down a city street topless is unremarkable? You astonish me.

    24. Desi Italiana — on 15th August, 2008 at 8:45 pm  

      Don:

      “That’s an odd point of view and if anyone genuinely felt that way I’d have to question how well adjusted they were, or indeed safe.”

      I may be wrong, but reading Alderman’s article, I don’t think that Alderman even made that point.

      Halima:

      “will get back to the earlier point about hijab objectifying …”

      Actually, the point about wearing hijab/no clothes as objectifying women. I have had lots of convos with ‘feminists’ who have told me that wearing skimpy clothes is ‘liberation’ for women and their rights, and I view this as objectification as well… :)

    25. halima — on 15th August, 2008 at 8:56 pm  

      Desi

      “I’ve also heard some of my friends say that the hijab is also pornographic - using the logic that it, too, objectifies women’s bodies.”

      In the sense that in both cases we are objectifying women’s bodies to the gaze of another - usually the male point of view or purpose. Objectifying, reifying usually means reducing ones identity, to fit with the attitudes the male soceity might have.

      Thinking about art in the 19th century for example, or film in the 1970s, and now building on people like laura Mulvey’s work on the male gaze, tells us we have pleasure in looking ( and I’d add to that objectifying) at women ( in cinema, society etc) where we can split men as active, controlling subjects and treat women as passive objects of desire (pornograhy) or forbidden (hijab).

      I haven’t figured it out properly in my mind, yet, but i thought the work of Mulvey is interesting here, but then as you say, women’s bodies should be used to secure a range of rights, so why stop and not use it? This might be the argument Judith Butlar would use, no? gender, bodies and performitivity? it’s been a long time since i was at college, but it there are any sociology students out there, they might explain it better.

      with pornograhy and the hijab you might say we objectify women in relation to ‘the controlling male gaze’ presenting ‘woman as image’ (or ‘spectacle’) and man as ‘bearer of the look’.. Men do the looking; women are there to be looked at.

      The audience in mind is always the male ( assumign we live always live in a straight world and the oppressor is always the male..)

      opps my post just crossed yours

    26. halima — on 15th August, 2008 at 9:01 pm  

      “I have had lots of convos with ‘feminists’ who have told me that wearing skimpy clothes is ‘liberation’ for women and their rights, and I view this as objectification as well… :)

      yeah and I will believe that when I see large, over sized ladies wearing skimpy clothes and making this same statement.

      Nothing against over size, but i don’t see the lip stick feminists out there that are anything more than size zero.

      PS my eyes are drooping, have to crash.

    27. Ala — on 15th August, 2008 at 9:43 pm  

      Desi, Alderman didn’t say those words exactly, but she said:

      “We all wear the kind of clothes we wear partly because of social pressure - and our own culture still says, for example, that it is more acceptable, and less sexual, for men to walk down the street topless than it is for women. Many patriarchal religions do indeed hold highly disturbing views about women, which should be challenged, but we should confront those ideas via education and debate, not by forcing young women to reveal parts of their bodies they would rather keep covered. If women say that they want to wear a headscarf, I’m afraid we have to take them at their word. What could be more anti-feminist than telling women that they don’t really know what they think?”

      That’s what I construed from it. If I’m wrong then she can sue me for libel. Regardless of whether she said it or not, I’m saying it.

      Marvin, it’s interesting how you take everything a person, who happens to be a woman, does, and politicise it, regardless of what it means to them on a personal and day to day basis. As if it is my job to suffer for women the world over while you sit back on your high horse and moralise about how we women are bringing other women down. I said I keep the peace, and that’s because I’m a peace loving person; I don’t see the immediate need for causing havoc just so I can show you my locks. I don’t like wearing a head scarf, and I’m slowly trying ease it off, doing it slowly so as not to give my mother more grief than I already do. Are you happy now, or am I still letting down the female race?

    28. Amrit — on 15th August, 2008 at 10:15 pm  

      Haha… Ala, you only ‘outed’ yourself on my blog, not on yours! I told you, I don’t think you have to worry just yet. :-D

      I agree with what you’re saying here and think that this is all a wee bit silly. I mean, even the ‘muhajababes’ (to use your term) ‘make up’ for the covering of their hair in the way they dress and their make-up etc. People keep linking the hijab and the niqab (like Marvin did), which is an easy mistake to make, but also rather counterproductive.

      I’ve just realised that I know EXACTLY where you’re coming from, as I too have to make little satorial choices here and there to keep the peace, like not wearing miniskirts or shorts around the house, and always wearing suits to the gurdwara and religious occasions.

      halima:
      ‘Nothing against over size, but i don’t see the lip stick feminists out there that are anything more than size zero’

      I know!!! I would also love to see more ‘irregular’ shaped people like myself in the public eye - not everyone out there is a perfect pear/hourglass/skinny-indiegirl type. Sounds like the feminists Desi Italiana are talking about take the act of wearing skimpy clothes as indicative of a deliberate choice to rebel sartorially - unfortunately, I don’t think most ladies even think about it that much and often, those that do wear them to be sexually attractive, which as DI pointed out, leads back to objectification…!

    29. Desi Italiana — on 15th August, 2008 at 10:17 pm  

      Halima:

      “but then as you say, women’s bodies should be used to secure a range of rights, so why stop and not use it?”

      I didn’t say that, though. If anything, I am arguing for the opposite. To make myself clear, I think that it’s wrong for a state (Saudi Arabia) to have an enforced dress code, and that does impinge on the right of an individual to choose what they wear or not.

    30. Desi Italiana — on 15th August, 2008 at 10:23 pm  

      Ala:

      “That’s what I construed from it. If I’m wrong then she can sue me for libel. Regardless of whether she said it or not, I’m saying it.”

      This may be regarded as nitpicking, but I really think it’s not ok for you attribute your interpretation to Alderman with the whimsical and careless attitude of “regardless of whether she said it or not, I’m saying it.” It’s not “regardless” when you are putting words in other people’s mouths. If she didn’t say it, then don’t say she did. If this is what YOU are saying, then maybe you should change your sentence from

      “Alderman rightly points out that there is essentially no difference between a woman covering her hair from male eyes and covering her bare breasts.”

      to

      “In my mind, there is essentially no difference…”

      Self-publishing blogging for a non-media publication does not excuse bloggers from adhering to certain standards, such as not misquoting people’s articles, improperly attributing thoughts and opinions to them, etc.

    31. Desi Italiana — on 15th August, 2008 at 10:30 pm  

      “about how we women are bringing other women down.”

      Hey, man, there’s a nugget of truth there (not w/r/t you specifically, Ala). There are plenty of aunties who fully go along with the “society” and teach their daughters AND sons certain gender roles and how each gender is ‘supposed’ to behave and whatnot.

    32. Desi Italiana — on 15th August, 2008 at 10:37 pm  

      Slightly related, but I can’t think of one of my cousins, friends, or male relatives who has gone around in public, at home, or at gatherings without wearing a shirt unless they were swimming either in a pool or beach.

      Do you think that as a society we have imposed an ‘invisible’ jalaba on our men? Why do they not feel comfortable going topless and showing us their nipples at the supermarket, at large family gatherings, etc?

    33. Desi Italiana — on 15th August, 2008 at 10:40 pm  

      “it is quite common for some women to cover their hair for totally non-religious reasons. Many, like me, just want to keep the peace, not stir controversy and attract attention to themselves in their communities, or simply keep their parents happy.”

      Are social pressures more innocuous than religious reasons?

      BTW, religious practices and social practices are not mutually exclusive, nor is one completely free without the other…

    34. Ala — on 15th August, 2008 at 10:58 pm  

      Yes, but I’m not enforcing gender roles like all those aunties. I oppose them vociferously. In keeping the peace, I’m mainly thinking about family members who are dear to me and are female, ironically. I couldn’t care less what strangers think of me. In trying not to upset those who are dear to me by doing things discreetly and gradually, I don’t think I’m acting selfishly towards womankind. I am womankind, remember.

      As for falsely attributing things to Alderman, I’m not. I’ve done nothing but paraphrase the paragraph as I understood it. I’m sure she’d be less bothered by it than you are. And I’m not putting words into her mouth as I’m not attributing a quote to her and I’m citing her original article.

    35. Desi Italiana — on 15th August, 2008 at 11:07 pm  

      “As for falsely attributing things to Alderman, I’m not. I’ve done nothing but paraphrase the paragraph as I understood it. I’m sure she’d be less bothered by it than you are. And I’m not putting words into her mouth as I’m not attributing a quote to her and I’m citing her original article.”

      Wow. Credibility factor goes down to zero. If you’re not bothered by potentially misconstruing stuff, and this is your response, then hey, that’s you.

      P.S. Writing “Alderman rightly points out that there is essentially no difference between a woman covering her hair from male eyes and covering her bare breasts” is putting words in something’s mouth when that is not what she is saying.

    36. Desi Italiana — on 15th August, 2008 at 11:13 pm  

      I’m sorry if it seems like I’m hounding you, Ala, but this part:

      “Yes, but I’m not enforcing gender roles like all those aunties. I oppose them vociferously. In keeping the peace, I’m mainly thinking about family members who are dear to me and are female, ironically.”

      There’s a paradox in your response. You say that you’re not the one to enforce gender roles and you are not in agreement with the ladies who perpetuate social and gender expectations as defined by them, and then you turn around and say that you perpetuate them for the sake of keeping the ladies in your family quiet…meaning, you are enforcing them by practicing them. Your responses don’t exactly support your argument that it’s out of pure free will that you dress however you want. It’s not when you feel that you have to do certain things to “keep the peace.”

      BTW, this has less to do with the fact that you cover your hair than succumbing to social, cultural (whatever you want to call it) pressures. You could write that you walk around with nothing but a bandana and a bikini bottom just to not stir controversy and rock the boat in a sea of societal pressures. It’s the pressures that make us dress and behave a certain way that get on my nerves, not the dress themselves.

    37. Laban — on 15th August, 2008 at 11:21 pm  

      “I guess the turban is a sign of oppression too?”

      It is for a woman, Sunny ;-)

    38. Ravi Naik — on 16th August, 2008 at 12:30 am  

      There’s a paradox in your response. You say that you’re not the one to enforce gender roles and you are not in agreement with the ladies who perpetuate social and gender expectations as defined by them, and then you turn around and say that you perpetuate them for the sake of keeping the ladies in your family quiet…meaning, you are enforcing them by practicing them. Your responses don’t exactly support your argument that it’s out of pure free will that you dress however you want. It’s not when you feel that you have to do certain things to “keep the peace.”

      Is there really a paradox? If you vouch for freedom to wear what one wants, then the specific reason for a particular choice (e.g. social pressure, fashion, assimilation, to create stir, etc.) in addition to the choice of clothes are both irrelevant, IMHO. I don’t believe “free will” is something that is clear-cut.

      P.S. Writing “Alderman rightly points out that there is essentially no difference between a woman covering her hair from male eyes and covering her bare breasts” is putting words in something’s mouth when that is not what she is saying.

      Exactly right.

    39. Desi Italiana — on 16th August, 2008 at 12:41 am  

      Ravi:

      “I don’t believe “free will” is something that is clear-cut.”

      Good point, though what I had in mind when I was writing that is whether I think of what my family and others will think based on what I wear. When I do, it makes me aware of the fact that I don’t always wear everything that I want to (like a bikini at a family bbq, etc), and to me, it very much translates into some sort of pressures, messages, etc that have been handed down to us, and how I submit to them.

    40. Desi Italiana — on 16th August, 2008 at 12:50 am  

      #39

      Which is, sadly, the predicament people are in: on the one hand, we don’t like these pressures, but on the other hand, we do follow them to a certain extent. And how it is politically, socially, and religiously more significant when it comes to women. And it is messed up that political, social, and economic rights and issues come to be tied into a woman’s body. Which defeats the whole purpose, since we want to go above using women’s bodies as battleground for all these issues, no? But maybe, for right now, we should fight on woman’s body since that is where all the brouhaha is happening…

    41. Desi Italiana — on 16th August, 2008 at 1:02 am  

      Ala:

      “Similarly, why don’t men have to cover their boobs?”

      Do most men in Britain really walk around topless all the time, with their “boobs” hanging out for all the world to see?

      Here, in California, most men don’t, unless you are near the beach. Or on the high school sportsfields where guys will take of their shirts after practice to “air out”.

    42. Boyo — on 16th August, 2008 at 10:57 am  

      “Many, like me, just want to keep the peace, not stir controversy and attract attention to themselves in their communities, or simply keep their parents happy. How truly anti-feminist it is for middle class White men to tell me I’m doing something wrong.”

      Goodness, the tragedy is that you can’t see that “just” wanting to keep the peace… etc… is precisely what is wrong.

      The other tragedy is that middle class white women have been (largely) quiet on this issue - a form of inverted racism, I presume, their commitment to equality bowing to cultural “sensitivity” when it applies to other hues and classes - and it has often been left to men to point out the absurdity.

      Are you familiar with the term “Stokholm Syndrome” Ala?

    43. SLartius — on 16th August, 2008 at 12:36 pm  

      The feminist/modesty issues are not what really matter. What really matters is that some Muslims feel they have to show off that they are Muslims. (Ohh look at me! I’m a Muslim.) That is what annoys me. I don’t want it pushed in my face that somebody is a follower of a religion which I find ridiculous in most respects.

      Why can’t they just keep quite about it, or at least be a lot more modest in the size, and visibility of their religious badge.

      As for covering your face, in this culture you only do that if you are ill, in mourning or about to rob someone.

    44. marvin — on 16th August, 2008 at 12:58 pm  

      Are you familiar with the term “Stokholm Syndrome” Ala?

      That’s a bit harsh. She wants to wear the hijab, not because she’s being held hostage by the taliban! She’s not wearing it for ‘religious reasons’ either. So what is the problem? It’s a personal choice. She has said already she’s not on a personal crusade to right the wrongs in the world, just to live in peace — if I’ve read this correctly.

    45. marvin — on 16th August, 2008 at 1:00 pm  

      I put the term ‘religious reasons’ in quotes, as you may know I do have a certain cynical attitude to religion (my personal choice, also a tiny winsy bit of ‘crusade’ against purely and exclusively religious thinking.

    46. marvin — on 16th August, 2008 at 1:04 pm  

      For me, the hijab IS a symbol of a religious moderation. Which is absolutely fine in my book.

    47. Tu S. Tin — on 16th August, 2008 at 1:38 pm  

      ala,
      Going back to the top…
      When did hair become sexual? I’m starting to think all this does work in reverse and end up objectifying women.
      Modesty has to do with vanity. When it turns around from I cover my assets for me to focus more on my inside qualities… to- I cover cause I hide how sexy I am from men.. the whole purpose is perverted and kind of becomes sexy.?
      Why am I not more “muslim” then than the actual muslim women, if I get up in the morning don’t even comb my hair put on jeans and an old t shirt .. just cause I don’t care how I look?

    48. BenSix — on 16th August, 2008 at 2:10 pm  

      I agree that there is a condescending attitude towards women of the Muslim faith. Only decades ago in our own country many women were taught to wear corsets (far more oppressive, in my opinion, than the hijab). We may disagree with this quite stridently, but we needn’t imagine that they were necessarily weak-willed and servile.

    49. Sunny — on 16th August, 2008 at 3:26 pm  

      The other tragedy is that middle class white women have been (largely) quiet on this issue - a form of inverted racism, I presume, their commitment to equality bowing to cultural “sensitivity” when it applies to other hues and classes - and it has often been left to men to point out the absurdity.

      Are you familiar with the term “Stokholm Syndrome” Ala?

      Firstly, the stockholm syndrome rubbish is too patronising to even deserve a response.

      As for middle class women - since you know very little on feminism issues anyway, this is mostly used as a stick to talk lamely about “inverted racism”.

      A central tenet to feminism is about not making assumptions or putting labels on why other women make decisions they want to - especially since central to feminism is the idea that a woman is responsible for the choice she makes and she’s entitled to it.

      You don’t even get the thinking around this topic and just want an excuse to throw around the phrase “inverted racism”. When women’s groups like Southall Black Sisters are affected and in trouble, then the white middle class males are suddenly in short supply - and its left to feminist solidarity to make some noise.
      Gimme a fuckin break.

    50. Dalbir — on 16th August, 2008 at 3:37 pm  

      Why no outrage at Catholic nuns wearing what is essentially a type of hijab?

      Is this not also a sign of oppression based on the arguments of the anti-hijabists? Why has no one made any noise about this? Pray do tell.

    51. Sunny — on 16th August, 2008 at 5:07 pm  

      Why no outrage at Catholic nuns wearing what is essentially a type of hijab?

      Actually, its worse in that they have to be celibate and its more covering than a hijab.

    52. halima — on 16th August, 2008 at 5:50 pm  

      “Only decades ago in our own country many women were taught to wear corsets (far more oppressive, in my opinion, than the hijab). We may disagree with this quite stridently, but we needn’t imagine that they were necessarily weak-willed and servile.”

      good points. perhaps the point is that we didn’t criticise it so much because it was part and fabric of this couuntry - whereas the hijab is seen as part and fabric of another culture and we’re less accepting of practices from other parts of the world.

      fortress minds.

      it’s all about choice at the end of the day,

      I hear corsets are still worn ….;-)

    53. El Cid — on 16th August, 2008 at 5:51 pm  

      Who gives a shit about the hijab?
      Are you confusing Turkish politics or French education policy with broader UK/European attitudes?
      This is an irrelevent phantom thread.
      We have been here time and time again. Nothing new has been brought to the table.
      What a loud of condescending poncey liberal middle class cock. What fricking “outrage”?
      Mind you, I wouldn’t put it past PP to claim “victory” in a year or so’s time.
      I can see it now:
      “PP is dropping its trail-blazing anti-anti-hijab campaign. We feel we have successfully made our point and changed British popular opinion forever. Our next objective is to get the British to alter their xenophobic attitudes to food by introducing them to curry. It will be a long struggle folks, you know how these people are with their racist roast beef and shepherd’s pie but I think if we can control the narrative we will get there eventually. Keep the faith brothers.”

      P.S.
      If you are going to call B “worse” than A, then you are suggesting A is bad in the first place.

    54. Ravi Naik — on 16th August, 2008 at 6:55 pm  

      Heh. :) My thought’s exactly (#53). Nobody gives a toss about hijab, and there we are debating it as if this country had a fundamental problem with it.

      Of course, the interesting question is why PP and others conflate this issue with the niqab/burka - they should know that some of us know well what they are trying to pull here with the “hijab” debate.

    55. BenSix — on 16th August, 2008 at 7:18 pm  

      “Nobody gives a toss about hijab, and there we are debating it as if this country had a fundamental problem with it.

      Of course, the interesting question is why PP and others conflate this issue with the niqab/burka - they should know that some of us know well what they are trying to pull here with the “hijab” debate.”

      An interesting comment, Ravi.

      a) This is a fuss about nothing…

      But also..

      b) This is a strawman deliberately employed by those PP fiends to muddy the debate surrounding the niqab/burka. The secret services may or may not be involved. Be on your guard…

      ;o)

    56. Desi Italiana — on 16th August, 2008 at 8:15 pm  

      Tu Tin:

      “When did hair become sexual? I’m starting to think all this does work in reverse and end up objectifying women.”

      There is (was?) a South Asian tradition which dictates that women should not be going around with their hair loose; the hypothesis for this was that women’s loose hair would ‘bewitch’ men. Meaning: the seductive powers of long, black hair.

    57. Archer — on 16th August, 2008 at 9:04 pm  

      There is (was?) a South Asian tradition which dictates that women should not be going around with their hair loose; the hypothesis for this was that women’s loose hair would ‘bewitch’ men.

      You either have (a) an extremely poor grasp of ‘South Asian’ culture (whatever that is) or (b) are lying, because there is no such tradition.

      Which one is it?

    58. Ravi Naik — on 16th August, 2008 at 9:33 pm  

      An interesting comment, Ravi.

      Uhm… not sure why felt the need to separate my short comment into two sections (a) and (b)… did I miss something, Ben? :)

    59. BenSix — on 16th August, 2008 at 9:35 pm  

      Just that you shouldn’t insinuate devious conspiracies. Be blunt about them - it’s much more fun.

      Ben

    60. joe90 — on 16th August, 2008 at 9:50 pm  

      It is amazing how something as simple as a piece of cloth on someone’s head can become a damning self-depracating statement the world over that will make people either pity you, hate you, or want to marry you.
      - As usual, female clothing that seems to offend the self-styled champions of western culture so much don’t really know that much about their own supposed ‘culture’, never mind anyone elses.

      The depiction and use of female garments have long been part of the history and development of western art, and therefore, are part of what the self-styled champions of western culture and values regard as its greatest achivements.

      Virgin and Child Alone or with Angels
      Biblical Art on the WWW

      The above page was chosen at random from the brilliant Biblical Art on the WWW

      It is practically impossible to find a classical image, or a Byzantine icon, in which the Madonna or a female saint isn’t depicted wearing a head-dress of some sort, and isn’t swathed in beautiful flowing robes and the like.

      And I always thought that freedom of expression, such as freedom to wear what you want, was a supposedly western value as well.

      I suppose we’re going to have to go round all those Old Masters and airbrush out all the bits that Jack Straw is afraid of etc

      all the best PP

      ps
      Some keffiyah controversy on the BBC tonight I think the denizens of PP might be interested in..

      My attention was drawn to a programme called -
      Last Choir Standing
      BBC TV 1
      primetime 6.15 - 7.30 pm
      Sat 16 Aug edition

      In this prog, the choir called ‘Revelation’ from East London, were clothed in a striking black and shocking pink uniform however one of the 3 males was wearing a keffiyah, albiet a shocking pink one, but definately a keffiyah.

      The BBC did its damnest to make sure the guy was never properly in shot for more than a few tenths of a second, compared to his other 2 male brother baritones.

      Even at the end of their routine (!!) and they had to stand facing the music from the judges, the guy with the keffiyah was consigned to the back of the choir so that all you could see was his head bobbing about.

      It was quite a performance by the BBC and there was some kind of censoring because the guy had a keffiyah on. Definitly.

    61. Muhamad — on 16th August, 2008 at 10:06 pm  

      “women should not have to resort to using their bodies as statements of ‘liberation’ and power. They should be able to secure the same rights, opportunities, etc with or without a hijab, and as Sid has pointed out, oppression hits women regardless of how they are dressed. This strive for equality in my mind does not really have to do with how one is dressed, though I do agree that state stipulations or social control which dictate how a woman should be dressed should be overcome.”
      Yes.

      I don’t think the gravest sin was for Adam and Eve to partake of the Tree of Knowledge, but to wear clothes to further offend Wo-hain-guru for his/her handy work, the glorious Magna Opera of pudenda and addenda. Pudency is the gravest sin.

    62. Ala — on 17th August, 2008 at 12:04 am  

      Can I just say to desi and all those who think I’m lamely conforming to social pressure, and don’t want to change the world, but just want a nice pleasant, quiet existence, this is what you assume because you’re comparing me to yourselves without a single thought to relativism. The culture I come from is extremely oppressive of women daring to do anything different. I’m already getting white hairs at the tender age of 25 from the stress I’m under on a daily basis because I’m daring to be different and living according to my own beliefs. It is an agonising process when done slowly, let alone quickly. I was brought up to wear a headscarf from the age of NINE. When all of you were still in shorts, I was covering. Cut me some slack if that particular item of clothing is still on my head because I haven’t gotten around to shedding it on top of the millions of other (more important)things I am trying to shed.

    63. Desi Italiana — on 17th August, 2008 at 12:17 am  

      Archer #57

      Since you seem to be so smart, why are you asking me the question? If not, chuup.

    64. Ravi Naik — on 17th August, 2008 at 12:19 am  

      Just that you shouldn’t insinuate devious conspiracies. Be blunt about them - it’s much more fun.

      Is it not obvious that the last sentence was meant to be a joke? :) Guess someone needs to relax a bit.

    65. Desi Italiana — on 17th August, 2008 at 12:26 am  

      Ala:

      “Can I just say to desi and all those who think I’m lamely conforming to social pressure”

      Yo, if you read my subsequent comments, you would see that I turn the same criticism on myself.

      “I was brought up to wear a headscarf from the age of NINE. When all of you were still in shorts, I was covering.”

      How do you know that we were in shorts (while you weren’t)? FYI, I actually come from a pretty conservative family when it comes to gender roles, what was considered “appropriate,” including clothing. I don’t think you can make assumptions about people just because you think they don’t agree with you.

      “this is what you assume because you’re comparing me to yourselves without a single thought to relativism. The culture I come from is extremely oppressive of women daring to do anything different.”

      Again, assumptions. Also, many cultures- not just your own- are oppressive of women. In fact, oppression exists on various levels in each society. You might want to read the UN report on women’s situation around the world.

      Lastly, Ala, I think it is unfair to get extremely defensive when someone remarks about something you initially brought up on a public space (ie your personal choices, etc).

    66. BenSix — on 17th August, 2008 at 12:26 am  

      “Guess some needs to relax a bit.”

      What are you trying to say? What are you insinuating? Who needs to calm down? I don’t see anyone that needs to relax! Did that door just look at me in a funny way?

      Ben

    67. marvin — on 17th August, 2008 at 1:49 am  

      What a loud of condescending poncey liberal middle class cock

      LMAO El Cid…

      I’m already getting white hairs at the tender age of 25 from the stress I’m under on a daily basis because I’m daring to be different and living according to my own beliefs.

      Fair do’s. Ala, thanks for posting. Seriously.

    68. Tu S. Tin — on 17th August, 2008 at 3:16 am  

      Ala,
      I love the post you have up on your own blog!!!!!
      and what you said - exactly!
      “I’m talking about ordinary heterosexual women who only care to impress the kind of man who doesn’t require them to go through a car wash every morning; who likes their raw natural beauty, or even better, who they are on the inside.

      me too! so we have something in common … good luck to us huh!!…
      For all that I don’t know who is to blame .. everyone!!! And I know men have problems of their own.
      why do people separate each other at all?
      What desi said at 65 too….I think I have said before I myself am from an immigrant family, and have spent my entire life surrounded by people from all over the world! Which is the reason I find all this talk hard to understand? But I have come to realize something too. The united states is unique, it was built on multiculturalism - and was aloud to remain that way. What of countries like england which were not? thats what all this is - cultural, I don’t know how it works….. at the same time with all the arguing that goes on here you’re all a lot more British than you think :P
      honestly I don’t care what anyone does … and everyone has the same problems!!!
      http://www.geocities.com/peterpaulmin/NunsandWearingtheHabit.html
      I see nuns get brought up a lot, and its a poor argument (or a good one to add since they deal with the same never ending debate)

    69. Boyo — on 17th August, 2008 at 11:41 am  

      Sunny, you’re hardly one to pronounce upon another’s understanding of feminism. Anyway, look at Ala @62 and tell me it ain’t a tragedy.

    70. Katy Newton — on 17th August, 2008 at 12:19 pm  

      Cut me some slack if that particular item of clothing is still on my head because I haven’t gotten around to shedding it on top of the millions of other (more important)things I am trying to shed.

      It all comes down to choice, doesn’t it? I know some women who wear the hijab because they are either deeply religious or loyal to their community and want to make a statement about it, and I respect that. But I can’t honestly say that I am happy about people in any community feeling that they have to dress in a certain way or their lives will be made difficult. One of the key aspirations of feminism is that women should be able to dress as they like without being judged. That doesn’t mean “everyone must dress in a bikini at all times”, it just means that people who want to wear the hijab can wear one and people who don’t can not wear one without being afraid of other peoples’ reaction.

    71. Katy Newton — on 17th August, 2008 at 12:22 pm  

      Any woman who’s spent fifteen minutes in the changing room trying to work out whether that top would be suitable for work or not ought to have at least some idea of where Ala is coming from, whether they are Muslim or not.

    72. Katy Newton — on 17th August, 2008 at 12:27 pm  

      And also, I think it would be awful if Ala came away from this post feeling wretched about covering her hair. That isn’t my intention and I wouldn’t think it’s anyone else’s, but please bear in mind that there are real people with real feelings behind these posts, people!

    73. Sid — on 17th August, 2008 at 4:12 pm  

      Ala, I think your comment on #62 is one of the bravest comments I’ve read here in a while. I salute you.

    74. Desi Italiana — on 17th August, 2008 at 7:19 pm  

      Halima #26:

      “yeah and I will believe that when I see large, over sized ladies wearing skimpy clothes and making this same statement.

      Nothing against over size, but i don’t see the lip stick feminists out there that are anything more than size zero.”

      Come to Chicago during the summer.

    75. Desi Italiana — on 17th August, 2008 at 7:32 pm  

      Tu Tin #68:

      “And I know men have problems of their own.”

      Problems related to gender, yes. Like those Bollywood dudes who are really hairy but appear in front of the screen completely shiny and hairless. Don’t tell me that Akshay Kumar hasn’t fallen victim to metrosexual standards and pressures when about 10 years ago, he had hair coming out from all over the place, and a decade later, he’s all oily and sleek, sans hair. He should be more self-confident and accept himself the way he is, like Akshay Khanna in “Race”, instead of letting society’s expectations prey on his mind and go through what I imagine to be painful depilatation.

    76. Sunny — on 17th August, 2008 at 8:31 pm  

      Again, assumptions. Also, many cultures– not just your own– are oppressive of women. In fact, oppression exists on various levels in each society. You might want to read the UN report on women’s situation around the world.

      Desi, could you BE any more fucking patronising? I think that would be very difficult from here on.

      Everyone has their own journey, if you want to be the brown sanctomonious version of… I don’t know, Michelle Malkin or something - fine.

      Thanks for pointing out to Ala and us here that there is lots of oppression towards women in other parts of the world. We honestly were unaware of that. Really.

      Katy’s response at #70 is spot on, and its great if Desi and Boyo could try and read and understand. Sheesh.

      As for the controversy over the Hijab - sure, no one is trying to ban it. And yet obviously the point isn’t about its legality but its place in society.

      Which is why Ala’s quite obvious post sparked off just defensive reactions from the white males who are determined to see Ala and the hijab from a particular perspective - regardless of what she says.

    77. Ravi Naik — on 17th August, 2008 at 9:45 pm  

      if you want to be the brown sanctomonious version of… I don’t know, Michelle Malkin or something - fine.

      There is nothing in this thread that could be remotely compared to what Michelle Malkin writes, and you know it.

      As for the controversy over the Hijab - sure, no one is trying to ban it. And yet obviously the point isn’t about its legality but its place in society…. Which is why Ala’s quite obvious post sparked off just defensive reactions from the white males who are determined to see Ala and the hijab from a particular perspective - regardless of what she says.

      If the vast majority of people are ok with the Hijab, and you have an old fart who conflates the Hijab with terrorism, shall we make that an issue? And in this thread and elsewhere, and apart from Boyo, who else sparked off a defensive reaction? And what’s this “white male” snide? You seem to create controversy where it doesn’t exist.

    78. Ala — on 17th August, 2008 at 9:46 pm  

      I hope I didn’t come accross as defensive; there are greater things that keep me up at night than picklers’ comments.

      Katy, I already feel wretched about covering my hair, both because I had little choice over it and because it draws attention and condescension from all circles. The whole point of this post was to highlight the double standard in the fact that Muslim women, who are under social pressures like any other person, get pitied and condemned more than any other person for perpetuating their own oppression, and how this double standard can work to oppress them even further.

      Sure, this is not a legal matter, but these attitudes can make Muslim women more disillusioned and drive away potential converts, keeping women in the oppressive cycle the anti-hijab clan so wish to eliminate.

    79. Desi Italiana — on 17th August, 2008 at 9:54 pm  

      Sunny:

      “Desi, could you BE any more fucking patronising? I think that would be very difficult from here on.”

      Is it really patronizing to point out that oppression exists in every society, and if you really want to see what I mean, read the UN report on women?

      “Everyone has their own journey, if you want to be the brown sanctomonious version of… I don’t know, Michelle Malkin or something - fine.”

      Obviously, you haven’t read my comments.

    80. Desi Italiana — on 17th August, 2008 at 10:01 pm  

      Sunny:

      “Which is why Ala’s quite obvious post sparked off just defensive reactions from the white males who are determined to see Ala and the hijab from a particular perspective - regardless of what she says.”

      Who here on PP are the “white males” that got “defensive”?

      And to play devil’s advocate, everyone is supposed to follow Ala’s ‘particular perspective’, even if that ‘particular perspective’ is problematic? Why? Because she’s talking from a ‘feminist’ perspective, or wears the hijab? If this is your thinking, why even engage in debate about ANYTHING? Everything has a ‘particular pespective’, not only Ala.

    81. Ala — on 17th August, 2008 at 10:01 pm  

      I feel I need to apologise for the middle class White male jibe. It isn’t fair to use historical power struggles to condemn individuals. My apologies to any middle class White males.

    82. Desi Italiana — on 17th August, 2008 at 10:03 pm  

      “but these attitudes can make Muslim women more disillusioned and drive away potential converts, keeping women in the oppressive cycle the anti-hijab clan so wish to eliminate.”

      Yeah, Ala, I don’t even get your point anymore. What do ‘potential converts’ have to do with this larger issue? Perhaps I am the only one…?

    83. Desi Italiana — on 17th August, 2008 at 10:04 pm  

      Ala:

      “It isn’t fair to use historical power struggles to condemn individuals.”

      Let me ask you the same question I asked Sunny: Who here ON PICKLED POLITICS, ON THIS THREAD, are the White Male Individuals that you have mistakenly condemned using historical power struggles?

    84. Ala — on 17th August, 2008 at 10:17 pm  

      “Yeah, Ala, I don’t even get your point anymore. What do ‘potential converts’ have to do with this larger issue? Perhaps I am the only one…?”

      I meant potential converts to LIBERAL FEMINISM.

      “Let me ask you the same question I asked Sunny: Who here ON PICKLED POLITICS, ON THIS THREAD, are the White Male Individuals that you have mistakenly condemned using historical power struggles?”

      In the original post I used the fact that AC Grayling was a middle class White man against him. I just edited it now because it was unfair and probably racist to use the actions of his ancestors (historical power struggles, eg. colonialsm) against him as an individual. I also apologised to any other middle class White men who may have been offended.

    85. Desi Italiana — on 17th August, 2008 at 10:20 pm  

      Sunny:

      ““Everyone has their own journey, if you want to be the brown sanctomonious version of… I don’t know, Michelle Malkin or something - fine.”

      Refer to comments #39 and #40.

    86. Desi Italiana — on 17th August, 2008 at 10:25 pm  

      Ala,

      What’s interesting to me is how you take so much issue with White Middle Class Male AC Grayling, but ironically, you don’t have nearly the same amount of venom and snark when it comes to people who are not White Middle Class Male, but exert pressure on others to dress a certain way. Maybe more editing is in order?

    87. Ravi Naik — on 17th August, 2008 at 10:30 pm  

      In the original post I used the fact that AC Grayling was a middle class White man against him. I just edited it now because it was unfair and probably racist to use the actions of his ancestors (historical power struggles, eg. colonialsm) against him as an individual. I also apologised to any other middle class White men who may have been offended.

      The irony, Ala, is that you made a whole post about an ignorant fool (Grayling), whose opinion is decidedly fringe and has no consequence on your life. It would be much better if you had dedicated a whole post based on what you wrote in #62.

    88. Desi Italiana — on 17th August, 2008 at 10:32 pm  

      Ala:

      I agree that Grayling’s

      “When I hear or read an eloquent Muslim woman defending the headscarf or the more extreme forms of covering which, they say, are so liberating, I am reminded of that dangerous idea: the idea of complicity in one’s own repression, the state of willingly accepting and enacting what the oppressor, or the oppressive mindset, dictates.”

      is strange and problematic, but I feel like you are selectively reading what he wrote. This is something else you might have missed:

      “Indeed I leave to you the not very congenial task of totting up the ways in which more enthusiastic forms of religion in general, not just Islam but Roman Catholicism, puritanical forms of Protestantism, and orthodox Judaism, have treated women: all the way from closeting them, covering the up, and silencing them, to sewing up their vaginas : it is a ghastly litany of repression, all the less excusable because discrimination against women which began in these ways persists in our society in modified forms: the fact that a woman earns about 70% of what an equally qualified and experienced man does is a residue in our own society of the attitude which in today’s sharia law states that a woman is worth half a man .”

    89. Sunny — on 17th August, 2008 at 10:39 pm  

      Starting from the top:

      TCH, Boyo, vampire, beavis, SLartius, Laban, Marvin (though less than normal - he’s become a lot more chilled out lately), El Cid etc. - all with defensive, sarcastic reactions.

      If it wasn’t controversial then why are we at post no 86?

      Is it really patronizing to point out that oppression exists in every society, and if you really want to see what I mean, read the UN report on women?

      No, I suppose I should tell you the sky is blue and the Pope is Catholic. Just in case you weren’t aware. Please don’t see that as patronising or anything.

      condemned using historical power struggles?

      Who’s condemned anyone? I’m just saying there is a defensive reaction from some of the males here about the hijab, while others are saying there’s nothing controversial at all. Make up your damn minds.

      everyone is supposed to follow Ala’s ‘particular perspective’, even if that ‘particular perspective’ is problematic? Why?

      No, I just object to you and others hinting that its all Stockholm Syndrome because clearly she doesn’t understand feminism or anything.

      There is nothing in this thread that could be remotely compared to what Michelle Malkin writes, and you know it.

      Oh no? I suppose Ala and myself are just completely unaware that women are oppressed in societies around the world.

      And that comes from this line of thought:

      Self-publishing blogging for a non-media publication does not excuse bloggers from adhering to certain standards, such as not misquoting people’s articles, improperly attributing thoughts and opinions to them, etc.

      Which is just as patronising. What “standards” is Desi referring to? If she has a different intepretation to what was said, fine. But Desi thinks like she’s some sort of authority here on what someone else said.

    90. Ravi Naik — on 17th August, 2008 at 11:01 pm  

      TCH, Boyo, vampire, beavis, SLartius, Laban, Marvin (though less than normal - he’s become a lot more chilled out lately), El Cid etc. - all with defensive, sarcastic reactions.

      You said this: Which is why Ala’s quite obvious post sparked off just defensive reactions from the white males who are determined to see Ala and the hijab from a particular perspective

      I actually haven’t see anyone here with the determination to frame Ala and the hijab to a particular perspective - imagine my surprise when you list all those names.

      What “standards” is Desi referring to? If she has a different intepretation to what was said, fine. But Desi thinks like she’s some sort of authority here on what someone else said.

      She is absolutely right to have pointed out that Alderman had not said those words.

    91. Sunny — on 17th August, 2008 at 11:11 pm  

      I actually haven’t see anyone here with the determination to frame Ala and the hijab to a particular perspective

      We must be reading different threads then.

    92. Don — on 17th August, 2008 at 11:40 pm  

      Ravi,

      an ignorant fool (Grayling)

      I’d have to disagree.

    93. douglas clark — on 18th August, 2008 at 12:02 am  

      I find this thread redolent in absurbities.

      Really.

      Ala, from the point of view of a white working class (wwc) male, the fully medieval garb of a good Muslim girl is, indeed, the turn off it is intended to be. It is just another example of males intending to exceptionalise their women. And what is damnably annoying, is the fact that, due to societal pressures, you, as a woman, argue for the status quo, as though you were arguing for yourself, when you are not actually arguing from that perspective at all. You are actually arguing from a perspective that is patriarchal. Even if neither you nor Sunny realise that.

      It is my opinion, just my opinion, that the totally religius, such as nuns, should be able to cover themselves from head to foot in black, say, and not be affronted by what we really think. I do think that the whole idea of nuns is a masculine concept, much as I think Muslim women covering themselves up is also a masculine concept.

      Still, Ala and Sunny are happy with that. And what would a wwc male know?

      Well, we know quite a lot about shite.

    94. Sunny — on 18th August, 2008 at 1:24 am  

      . And what is damnably annoying, is the fact that, due to societal pressures, you, as a woman, argue for the status quo, as though you were arguing for yourself, when you are not actually arguing from that perspective at all. You are actually arguing from a perspective that is patriarchal. Even if neither you nor Sunny realise that.

      See, this is my point - this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case because you’re assuming the same symbolic significance that the person is. But it doesn’t have to be the case.

      Another reason - people think that youngsters start becoming more religious because they’re forced into it by their parents or because they’re becoming more extremist.

      But the research into this (man who knows: Tufyal Choudhury, academic at Durham) indicates that sometimes people take on a more religious identity for other reasons.

      It could be to escape what they see as oppressive cultural practices by their parents, or to experiment with different identities, or a rebellion from their parents etc.

      My point is exactly this - that some people have assumed what the hijab signifies and are then applying that reasoning to everyone, including Ala. She has her own reasons, and I’ve met other Muslim women who have their own reasons. Some of them would def not cower under patriarchal family lifestyles, while there are hijab-free women who will willingly do whatever their menfolk say.

    95. Desi Italiana — on 18th August, 2008 at 2:27 am  

      Sunny:

      I really disagree with your attitude here, both about how much we are allowed to state our opinions regarding Ala’s post, and how ‘patronizing’ you think I am.

    96. Desi Italiana — on 18th August, 2008 at 2:33 am  

      Douglas Clark:

      “You are actually arguing from a perspective that is patriarchal. Even if neither you nor Sunny realise that.”

      Well, you can’t really say anything about this, if you’re a White Middle Class Male Individual. And come to think of it, neither can I as a brown female, because you know, I’m like Michelle Malkin.

      Love the racialization- like if you’re an opinionated brown woman, you’re likened to a right wing brown woman; if you have a certain opinion, it’s because you are a White Middle Class Male, never mind that there are folks of other backgrounds who share the same values/opinions. No one here has said anything like, “Sunny is the softer version of Dinesh D’Souza,” but that’s because we don’t play like that.

    97. Desi Italiana — on 18th August, 2008 at 2:51 am  

      Sunny:

      “condemned using historical power struggles?

      Who’s condemned anyone?…Make up your damn minds.”

      That’s what Ala effing said!!!!

      #81:

      “I feel I need to apologise for the middle class White male jibe. It isn’t fair to use historical power struggles to condemn individuals. My apologies to any middle class White males.

      Seriously, get the comments in correct order!

      “What “standards” is Desi referring to? If she has a different intepretation to what was said, fine. But Desi thinks like she’s some sort of authority here on what someone else said.”

      Standards that you quoted from me in the same comment block of yours:

      “Self-publishing blogging for a non-media publication does not excuse bloggers from adhering to certain standards, such as not misquoting people’s articles, improperly attributing thoughts and opinions to them, etc.”

      If you think it’s ok to ‘interpret’ as we want when we blog, then it is perfectly ok for me to write a blog on you, calling you a racist for likening to me to Michelle Malkin and whatever else. And you have no right to get upset if I do; if you do get huffy, then you are patronizing.

      BTW, there’s no ‘authority’ on my part, nor am I claiming any. No one needs any authority to understand that Ala has said something which is not true w/r/t Alderman. And for Christ’s sake, Ala wrote a whole post on how much she agrees with Alderman’s point of view. Are you going to tell me that pointing out the inaccurate rendering of Alderman’s opinion is unacceptable when it is central to her discussion?

    98. Sunny — on 18th August, 2008 at 4:17 am  

      If you think it’s ok to ‘interpret’ as we want when we blog, then it is perfectly ok for me to write a blog on you, calling you a racist for likening to me to Michelle Malkin and whatever else.

      I get called all sorts of stuff all the time. I only take stuff seriously that has resonance with me. If you don’t want to take that comment seriously, that’s up to you. I’m just stating that I think you’re being sanctamonious and patronising. You don’t have to like it, I’m just saying it.

      And come to think of it, neither can I as a brown female, because you know, I’m like Michelle Malkin.

      Hey, no one is actually stopping you from saying anything. You’ve sniped at me for ages, I’ve never once told you to go away (as far as I remember). I just can’t take you seriously when you’re so patronising.

    99. Desi Italiana — on 18th August, 2008 at 7:10 am  

      Sunny:

      “I only take stuff seriously that has resonance with me. ”

      Missing the point, again. I am talking about this post, not talking about “what has resonance” with you.

      “You’ve sniped at me for ages, I’ve never once told you to go away (as far as I remember).”

      Yes, and I’ve known that and I’ve said that I’m grateful for that. I have, though, not likened you to right wing commentators (not that I can remember, though I remember being really snarky on some threads).

      “I just can’t take you seriously when you’re so patronising.”

      Again, I do not see how I was patronizing on this thread. If someone says, “Look, be relativist w/r/t me for a moment- in my culture it’s like this and this,” and I say that in other cultures it’s similar and manifests itself in similar forms; if someone says that a writer said this but in reality the writer didn’t, I am wondering how this is patronizing?

      And if anything, no one can really take this post by Ala seriously, with the attack on White Middle Class Males when she is talking about only one person (AC Grayling), with saying Alderman said this and building a whole post on it, when in fact the writer never said that, and defensiveness based on assumptions of where commentators are coming from.

      Anyway, lesson learned: have to walk on eggshells and not say anything critical, not point out any errors, or voice one’s opinion when Ala posts something, unless it’s total, absolute agreement.

    100. Desi Italiana — on 18th August, 2008 at 7:15 am  

      Ala, this is a wonderful post. Hats off to you, and I completely agree with everything you said. I was particularly struck by this line:

      “Alderman alludes to the point that there is essentially no difference between a woman covering her hair under social pressure and covering her bare breasts.”

      It’s about time that someone said this. Thanks, Alderman!

    101. douglas clark — on 18th August, 2008 at 8:16 am  

      Sunny @ 94.

      Obviously, I agree with you. However:

      It could be to escape what they see as oppressive cultural practices by their parents, or to experiment with different identities, or a rebellion from their parents etc.

      Does not compute. It is completely ridiculous for children to be more extreme than their parents. They are taking that different identity, and pushing it through a wringer, in order to be dafter than their mums or dads. Which is particularily sad. I used to be a hippy, so I did, then I grew up, a bit.

      I despair, so I do. Still, I expect we’ve all got to go through a rejection phase, perhaps?

      Apart from all of that, I think Desi Italiana is the most frustrating and perhaps best commentator you have here. You should cherish her.

      See below for the counterpunch.

    102. douglas clark — on 18th August, 2008 at 8:41 am  

      Desi @ 99,

      As you probably know, I admire your ire. Apart from Sonia, with whom I have never disagreed, which is completely remarkable and frankly totally amazing, I have found you to be perhaps the best commentator on here.

      However, and there has to be a however, A C Grayling is quite a good, intellectual.

      I’d doubt you’d really disagree with the science he espouses, like the Universe is circa 14 billion years old, or that evolution is an obvious fact. Would you?

      Frankly, I’d think a lot less of you if you did. And we could take this thread to a thousand comments arguing to and fro.

      Frankly, sniping at Sunny ought to be an Olympic sport. Given that he seems capabable of defending himself extremely well. Said the white working class lad. Who does not really see himself that way.

    103. Desi Italiana/Michelle Malkin — on 18th August, 2008 at 8:57 am  

      Douglas:

      “However, and there has to be a however, A C Grayling is quite a good, intellectual….I’d doubt you’d really disagree with the science he espouses, like the Universe is circa 14 billion years old, or that evolution is an obvious fact. Would you?”

      I don’t know much about AC Grayling, but I read that article that Ala linked to, and the only things I said about him was: 1) I find his argument that a woman wearing a headscarf is complicit in her own “oppression” as kind of bullocks; and 2) that I thought Ala was selectively reading him. So up above in comment #88 I wrote:

      “I agree that Grayling’s

      “When I hear or read an eloquent Muslim woman defending the headscarf or the more extreme forms of covering which, they say, are so liberating, I am reminded of that dangerous idea: the idea of complicity in one’s own repression, the state of willingly accepting and enacting what the oppressor, or the oppressive mindset, dictates.”

      is strange and problematic, but I feel like you are selectively reading what he wrote. This is something else you might have missed:

      “Indeed I leave to you the not very congenial task of totting up the ways in which more enthusiastic forms of religion in general, not just Islam but Roman Catholicism, puritanical forms of Protestantism, and orthodox Judaism, have treated women: all the way from closeting them, covering the up, and silencing them, to sewing up their vaginas : it is a ghastly litany of repression, all the less excusable because discrimination against women which began in these ways persists in our society in modified forms: the fact that a woman earns about 70% of what an equally qualified and experienced man does is a residue in our own society of the attitude which in today’s sharia law states that a woman is worth half a man .”

      Which is to say that he also took jabs at what he reads as oppression in other societies and places, so I don’t think he is picking on Muslim women (though the article does focus more on them). Still don’t get the headscarf thingy he says. I don’t agree it’s repression, but I do think it’s about conformity (comment #36), we all engage in it even if we would prefer not to, including myself (comments #39, #40), and it happens that it has relatively more bearing on woman, which really bites.

      But I am being patronizing, so I should stop here.

    104. Desi Italiana/Michelle Malkin — on 18th August, 2008 at 9:03 am  

      Douglas:

      W/r/t Grayling, his argument would have made more sense if he said that the headscarf represented conformity, the same way that going SANS scarf is submitting to conformity in a place where wearing a scarf is looked down upon, or how men who are naturally hairy submit to the tyranny of popular culture conformity by stripping it all off, etc.

      If his definition of ‘repression’ is wearing a headscarf and those who wear it are complicit in their own victimhood, then I say that we are all victims, and we all have a hand in “repressing” ourselves by following the general standards of where each of us lives.

      Re: his views on science, evolution, etc, I can’t say anything as I have not read his stuff. But I do believe in evolution, science, and all that, so if he does too, then we are in agreement in those camps.

    105. Desi Italiana/Michelle Malkin — on 18th August, 2008 at 9:16 am  

      Sunny:

      “No, I just object to you and others hinting that its all Stockholm Syndrome because clearly she doesn’t understand feminism or anything. ”

      Dude, where are you getting this stuff that I supposedly said? Where did I say that she doesn’t get feminism? I said that her responses do not support what she is arguing - that’s it out of free will that she chooses to wear a veil. I never made any argument about ‘feminism” w/r/t to Ala’s decision to wear the veil.

      What I said in comment #36:

      “You say that you’re not the one to enforce gender roles and you are not in agreement with the ladies who perpetuate social and gender expectations as defined by them, and then you turn around and say that you perpetuate them for the sake of keeping the ladies in your family quiet…meaning, you are enforcing them by practicing them. Your responses don’t exactly support your argument that it’s out of pure free will that you dress however you want. It’s not when you feel that you have to do certain things to “keep the peace.”

      BTW, this has less to do with the fact that you cover your hair than succumbing to social, cultural (whatever you want to call it) pressures . You could write that you walk around with nothing but a bandana and a bikini bottom just to not stir controversy and rock the boat in a sea of societal pressures. It’s the pressures that make us dress and behave a certain way that get on my nerves, not the dress themselves .”

      And then what I said in comment #39:

      “When I do, it makes me aware of the fact that I don’t always wear everything that I want to (like a bikini at a family bbq, etc), and to me, it very much translates into some sort of pressures, messages, etc that have been handed down to us, and how I submit to them.

      Sunny, you just wasted my time and your time by claiming I said shit when I never did!

    106. Rumbold — on 18th August, 2008 at 9:31 am  

      Ala:

      “My apologies to any middle class White males.”

      Too late. I have already reported you to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

    107. douglas clark — on 18th August, 2008 at 10:00 am  

      Desi,

      Oh, I so enjoy an arguement. You quoted Grayling as saying this:

      When I hear or read an eloquent Muslim woman defending the headscarf or the more extreme forms of covering which, they say, are so liberating, I am reminded of that dangerous idea: the idea of complicity in one’s own repression, the state of willingly accepting and enacting what the oppressor, or the oppressive mindset, dictates

      I’d, largely, agree with Grayling. Your eloquence does you down. FFS Desi, you are an intelligent person. There is nothing in this world more irritating than women being complicit in their own repression. It really annoys me.

      This is not a debate about relativism, it is a debate about power. And the ridiculolous willingness of folk like you to surrender a hard fought for right to your menfolks’ concepts of womanhood.

      And, no, I do not think drinking ginormous amounts of alcohol and getting your tits out for the lads is the corollary, it is instead an extremely stupid and opposite extreme.

      There ought to be a middle ground, absent male sexual hang ups, issues, whatever….

      I think.

    108. douglas clark — on 18th August, 2008 at 10:10 am  

      Rumbold,

      It is us white working class folk that take exception. You middle class white folk are a bunch of wankers :-)

      Anyway, have you stopped being a libertarian yet?

    109. Ala — on 18th August, 2008 at 10:36 am  

      I still fail to see any contradiction in what I’m saying, desi. I’m using my free will as much as the next person. I don’t HAVE to keep the peace (which is my own peace), I simply choose not to put myself under UNECESSARY stress, just like you when you don’t wear a bikini at your family gatherings. It’s unfair to expect women to do these attention grabbing feats simply in the name of challenging conformity when they’re busy with their day-to-day living and paying bills. It’s unfair for those who don’t have to not conform to demand it from others in their shrill moral tone, the others they are supposed to be liberating.

      You’ve also gone off on one about power struggles and white males when all I was saying was that I unfairly used colonial history to to plant a personal attack on Grayling, which was wrong and which I rectified before your comment at 86. I don’t know if you’ve caught on yet.

      And finally, Alderman says,

      “Feminist friends tell me that the headscarves are a symbol of female subjugation, a way to deal with male lust by forcing women to cover up, and that as such, they should not be tolerated in a gender-equal society. The women who wear them, they say, have been pressured into it by their communities.

      Well, yes and no. We all wear the kind of clothes we wear partly because of social pressure - and our own culture still says, for example, that it is more acceptable, and less sexual, for men to walk down the street topless than it is for women.”

      I say,

      “Alderman alludes to the point that there is essentially no difference between a woman covering her hair under social pressure and covering her bare breasts.”

      I rest my case.

    110. Desi Italiana, Michelle Malkin, and Anne Coulter all rolled into one — on 18th August, 2008 at 10:36 am  

      Hey Douglas,

      “This is not a debate about relativism, it is a debate about power. And the ridiculolous willingness of folk like you to surrender a hard fought for right to your menfolks’ concepts of womanhood.”

      Er…I didn’t say anything about relativism, I said that I think his assertion about women wearing headscarves (for god’s sake) as a case of women repressing themselves is off. See comment 3104

      And yes, I agree that it is about power. Which is why I spent about 50 billion posts on this freaking thread trying to explain this relationship about power, clothing, appearances, etc and societal standards.

    111. Desi Italiana, Michelle Malkin, and Anne Coulter all rolled into one — on 18th August, 2008 at 10:39 am  

      Hey, Ala, I totally agree with you.

      Great post, btw.

    112. Desi Italiana, Michelle Malkin, and Anne Coulter all rolled into one — on 18th August, 2008 at 10:49 am  

      “There ought to be a middle ground, absent male sexual hang ups, issues, whatever….”

      “Middle ground” implies that there are boundaries to begin with, and thus, the ‘middle ground’ itself becomes a space defined by something or someone.

    113. douglas clark — on 18th August, 2008 at 11:08 am  

      Ala,

      If you can’t see your own complicity in subscribing to a male dominated agenda, then there is no hope for me, a white working class male, to persuade you otherwise. You, quite ridiculously, see your submission to a male agenda as free will, when it is pretty obvious that it is in fact a ridiculously subservient point of view. You are welcome to keep deluding yourself. It will get you brownie points, no doubt. Much as anti feminists were quite popular with men that thought that giving women the vote was a step too far. Popular? Yes. Right? No.

      A deluded collection of fools.

      And so, on to your new best friend Desi…

    114. Sid — on 18th August, 2008 at 11:29 am  

      I don’t want to be seen as taking sides here, but Desi is probably one of the few out-of-the-box thinkers commenting on this site. Without people like her, this blog would be in danger of disappearing up its own self-regarding, stereotype-perpetuating, flabby-secular, “brown” bunny warren. I salute her.

    115. douglas clark — on 18th August, 2008 at 11:30 am  

      Desi,

      Are there not boundaries? I’d have thought, correct me if I am wrong, that pushing at boundaries is what you are all about? Still and all, there are recognisable taboos are there not?

      We do not argue that brothers and sisters should be allowed to marry? Why is that? Is it perhaps because we have a history - look at the Egyptians of old ffs - to suggest that it is a bad idea?

      You do, however, argue that the hijab is a matter of choice, as though it were a culturally free choice whereas it appears to me to be a culturally imposed choice. Freedom is something an individual ought to have, I think. Not an imposed standard arising from male dominance. I’d have thought that you, of all people, could see that.

      You are the one that seems to see a, perhaps convenient, limit on your dress sense. Frankly, it is demeaning to all women to see themselves as simply sexually arousing, which is apparently the male, default view….with which I profoundly disagree.

      Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    116. douglas clark — on 18th August, 2008 at 11:32 am  

      Sid @ 114,

      I agree.

    117. Rumbold — on 18th August, 2008 at 11:34 am  

      Douglas:

      “It is us white working class folk that take exception. You middle class white folk are a bunch of wankers.”

      Heh. Time for a bit of good old-fashioned class warfare, you oik.

      “Anyway, have you stopped being a libertarian yet?”

      I would rather be a libertarian than a socialist.

    118. Sid — on 18th August, 2008 at 11:45 am  

      I’d rather be a barrow-boy than a trustafarian.

    119. douglas clark — on 18th August, 2008 at 11:59 am  

      Rumbold,

      He he.

      Well, you southern surrender monkey, which by definition means you are an upper class chinless wonder, probably related to the Queen or something and chatting away with your new best mate David Cameron, whilst quaffing g & ts. Do you know it only takes seventy minutes or so to fly from here to there? Sometimes I wish it took seventy hours. What with your public school - Eton was it? - grip on the balls of civil society down in the great Wen, I despair, I really do, that any sense whatsoever will ever emmanate from there.

      Anyway, I’m a Liberal, not a socialist. Voted Liberal all my days, up until I saw the opportunity to free myself of daft English middle class twits. So, currently voting SNP.

      OK, that just means I’m voting for daft Scottish middle class twits, but it’s a mild improvement.

      And I do do these thingys’ ;-)

    120. douglas clark — on 18th August, 2008 at 12:02 pm  

      Sid,

      Is a barrow boy in London middle class these days? Who’d have thought it.

      Anyway, it’s our bloody oil.

    121. Rumbold — on 18th August, 2008 at 1:16 pm  

      Sid:

      Heh.

      Douglas:

      “Well, you southern surrender monkey, which by definition means you are an upper class chinless wonder, probably related to the Queen or something and chatting away with your new best mate David Cameron, whilst quaffing g & ts.”

      At least the Romans didn’t feel it necessary to build a large wall in order to keep us out.

      “What with your public school - Eton was it? - grip on the balls of civil society down in the great Wen, I despair, I really do, that any sense whatsoever will ever emmanate from there.”

      I didn’t go to Eton- they let anyone in there nowadays. Frightfully common.

      “Anyway, I’m a Liberal, not a socialist. Voted Liberal all my days, up until I saw the opportunity to free myself of daft English middle class twits. So, currently voting SNP.”

      You seem to have borderline socialist views. Your love for the state for example.

    122. Boyo — on 18th August, 2008 at 1:17 pm  

      I confess. I am a white middle class male, as long as pulling oneself by one’s bootstraps counts - think of me as a less well-upholstered John Prescott (maybe not). I find the race card unpleasant however whatever colour it is - my position has always been equality regardless, hence my comments here.

      For once I seem to be on the side of Douglas Clark. Maybe I’m wrong after all ;-)

      I didn’t bother to read that other WMCM’s article (what’s the point - I mean, anything he says is invalid anyway isn’t it, he being WHITE and MIDDLE CLASS - as if Sunny knows anything about class, the cheek!) but it turns out he was talking about Stockholm Syndrome too, if in a more roundabout way, but hey, I didn’t have the time.

      Yet again Sunny seems to be determined to ignore any arguments that do not fit in to his neat, race-based single-issuism. Shame.

    123. Ala — on 18th August, 2008 at 6:27 pm  

      Sorry Douglas, but that’s a load of bollocks. I’m doing everything I can in my power to challenge bad social mores without getting a hernia. Assure me that you go through what I do, that you make your mother cry often and your parents want to run away and leave the country and I’ll accept your criticism.

    124. Ala — on 18th August, 2008 at 6:29 pm  

      I think it was Thomas Hobbes who said it was better to die a real death than a social death. We better stop this thread before it get so popular that members of my parents’ community will find it.

    125. Sunny — on 18th August, 2008 at 7:03 pm  

      We better stop this thread before it get so popular that members of my parents’ community will find it.

      Hehe. True, and I’m getting rather bored of all the commenters who declare loudly there is no controversy before firing off a 100 posts declaring that its all about power, patriarchy, feminism and the end of society as we know it. And just in case we weren’t aware, there is plenty of oppression around the world too, as said by the UN report.

      But finally, douglas:
      It is completely ridiculous for children to be more extreme than their parents. They are taking that different identity, and pushing it through a wringer, in order to be dafter than their mums or dads. Which is particularily sad. I used to be a hippy, so I did, then I grew up, a bit.

      That is the way of the world my friend. This isn’t necessarily about being more extreme, but negotiating your own way forward. Have you ever seen “My Son the Fanatic”? Brilliant drama.

    126. Desi Italiana, Michelle Malkin, and Anne Coulter all rolled into one — on 18th August, 2008 at 7:26 pm  

      Sunny:

      “True, and I’m getting rather bored of all the commenters who declare loudly there is no controversy before firing off a 100 posts declaring that its all about power, patriarchy, feminism and the end of society as we know it. And just in case we weren’t aware, there is plenty of oppression around the world too, as said by the UN report.”

      Come off it, yaar. Really. WHO is talking about the ‘end of society’ here and where? Don’t get irritated that some folks took a shoddily-written post (edited multiple times due to the comments section, might I add) and voiced their opinions on it. And if power, patriarchy (this I never alluded to), and feminism sound redundant to you, maybe that’s because we all felt impelled to add something more to a discussion that started off with an inaccurately portrayed opinion and ended with a sweeping attack on White Middle Class Males, followed by defensiveness on the issues that the writer herself brought up in the first place.

      And yes, you and Ala might do well to remember that there’s oppression elsewhere, instead of Ala playing the “look, my community is different, it’s unique, all you were wearing shorts when I was wearing the headscarf.” How come she receives defense from you for statements like this when all I am doing is pointing out is other stuff? Also, I’ve alluded to the UN report because it IS pretty comprehensive in its survey around the world; if you can find a comparable report, then please, by all means, go ahead and give us the title, instead of taking snipes at someone who has actually bothered to read something.

    127. Desi Italiana, Michelle Malkin, and Anne Coulter all rolled into one — on 18th August, 2008 at 7:34 pm  

      Douglas:

      “Are there not boundaries? I’d have thought, correct me if I am wrong, that pushing at boundaries is what you are all about? Still and all, there are recognisable taboos are there not?”

      Sorry to have disappointed you with my mainstream views, so to live up to the radical image you have of me, I am going to now go to the grocery store stark naked. Right now. Who wants to come to witness the spectacle that will shatter conformity?!

      And I am absolutely positive that my nudity will break the glass ceiling we have in the US, I can be sure that my rights as a woman will be ensured, and that IN PRACTICE (not just on paper), I will be considered an equal human being to my male counterparts. Even if I am Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin.

      “We do not argue that brothers and sisters should be allowed to marry? Why is that?”

      Because scientifically, it ain’t good to inbreed with a gene pool that is similar to yours, and it ups the chances of bad recessive genes introducing nasty shit to our systems. There’s nothing scientifically and biologically detrimental when you wear a headscarf. Comparing wearing a headscarf and marrying and having sex with your sibling are NOT analogous.

      “You do, however, argue that the hijab is a matter of choice, as though it were a culturally free choice whereas it appears to me to be a culturally imposed choice.”

      I didn’t say it’s a matter of ‘free choice’; in fact, I’ve said the complete fucking opposite after I agreed with Ravi’s comment about ‘free will’ being shady and all of that.

      “Freedom is something an individual ought to have, I think. Not an imposed standard arising from male dominance. I’d have thought that you, of all people, could see that.”

      Again, I am sorry that I disappointed Douglas Clark of PP, and as I mentioned, I am about to go to the supermarket butt-naked to exercise my complete free will as a human being with the expectation that I will have equality and freedom. I am in the process of taking off my pajamas right now.

    128. Desi Italiana, Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter all rolled into one — on 18th August, 2008 at 7:43 pm  

      Douglas:

      ““You do, however, argue that the hijab is a matter of choice, as though it were a culturally free choice whereas it appears to me to be a culturally imposed choice.”

      Duh- did you not read any of my comments talking about how a lot of stuff we do these days is ‘culturally imposed’? I already said this stuff, you’re addressing it to me as if it failed to register in my brain.

      And w/r/t to following conformity, I expect that you walk around naked in Britain as well. ALL DAY TODAY. Shedding your clothes is a way of shedding the constraints of society, and if I find out that you didn’t do this, then I will be very, very, very disappointed in you.

    129. Desi Italiana, Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter all rolled into one — on 18th August, 2008 at 7:46 pm  

      What the hell is the Stockolm Syndrome that everyone keeps referring to?

    130. Don — on 18th August, 2008 at 7:54 pm  

      Desi,

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome

      It is slightly different to Copenhagen Syndrome, which is where on comes to believe one’s captors are actually cute mermaids.

    131. Desi Italiana, Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter all rolled into one — on 18th August, 2008 at 7:54 pm  

      Douglas, you pompous pickler:

      “If you can’t see your own complicity in subscribing to a male dominated agenda…You, quite ridiculously, see your submission to a male agenda as free will, when it is pretty obvious that it is in fact a ridiculously subservient point of view. ”

      What the eff are you going on about? Do you really think it’s exclusively a ‘male dominated agenda’ to wear the headscarf? Do you not think that pressure (to either wear the headscarf or not) might not come from other females?

      It’s a freaking headscarf. There are women in Sardegna and Sicily who still wear them. Greek women too. As someone mentioned all the way up, why no issue with these women wearing it except when it comes to women who are either of Arab background or a Muslim upbringing? Be consistent.

    132. Amrit — on 18th August, 2008 at 8:01 pm  

      *lights flash, klaxons blare*

      STUPID THREAD ALERT. STUPID THREAD ALERT. VISITORS WILL BE EVACUATED TO THE HOMEPAGE WHERE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS ARE UP FOR DISCUSSION.

    133. Desi Italiana, Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter all rolled into one, while referring to the UN report on women two times — on 18th August, 2008 at 8:15 pm  

      Don:

      “It is slightly different to Copenhagen Syndrome, which is where on comes to believe one’s captors are actually cute mermaids.”

      Thanks, I was reading the wiki link after I posted my comment but then got caught up with Douglas’ remark about ‘male domination’.

      Now that I know what the Stockolm Syndrome is, I completely disagree with the commentator who said Ala suffers from it.

      And now I will desist from commenting on a STUPID THREAD because I have been evacuated from the thread by Amrit.

    134. Amrit — on 18th August, 2008 at 8:16 pm  

      :D I evacuated myself to your blog,as it so happens.

      Decidedly saner than this thread, which has been a waste of my life while I try to figure who is beefing on who and for what reason.

    135. Sunny — on 18th August, 2008 at 8:22 pm  

      Ok, frankly this thread should have been closed ages ago because its lost all point.

      But Desi you said:
      Don’t get irritated that some folks took a shoddily-written post (edited multiple times due to the comments section, might I add) and voiced their opinions on it.

      I didn’t have a problem with what she wrote initially. If others didn’t think it was right, they can complain in the comments. This is a blog, not the New York Times. If I was her, I’d have ignored the comments and wrote carried on regardless. Some people taking blogging far too seriously.

      anyway, thread closed.

    136. Desi Italiana, Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter all rolled into one, while referring to the UN report on women two times — on 18th August, 2008 at 8:42 pm  

      Ok, peace out.

    137. Naomi Alderman — on 18th August, 2008 at 9:28 pm  

      Hi all. A friend pointed out this thread to me and, even though I see it’s now sort-of closed, I hope it’s OK for me to comment.

      You know, I don’t think that something I wrote has ever been subjected to this degree of scrutiny! But, for what it’s worth (and I’m aware that after ‘the death of the author’, my opinions probably aren’t so relevant), what I meant by the ‘topless’ comparison was the following.

      Many societies around the world and at different periods in history have had different ideas about which parts of the body ought to be concealed in public. I’m no anthropologist, but just watching documentaries and reading about other cultures makes it clear that, in some cultures it’s no big deal for women to walk around totally naked. That’s not seen as “sexually provocative”, it’s just that the custom of the place is to wear some beads, maybe sandals or jewelry and nothing else. Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” gives great examples of this. In the African culture he describes, it would be shameful for a woman to appear without her waist beads at a festival, but having bare breasts is entirely expected.

      Modern Western culture has a different view. There are, of course, specific dress codes for specific places but in general Western culture says that a woman showing her bare breasts is a sexual display, while a man walking around with no top on when it’s hot is just a normal way to keep cool. [This is the case in London, where I live. If it is different in your region, I apologise for my London-centrism.]

      This view is also reflected in, for example, the swimwear of male and female athletes at the Olympics. Men wear swimming shorts, women wear one-pieces which cover their breasts. Who knows if the women might perform better in just the shorts, or if both sexes might perform better totally nude? We’re not going to find out, because the athletes in these events must cover up the parts of the body which modern Western culture considers too overtly sexual to be displayed.

      I think that with the increasingly homogenised ‘McDonalds-isation’ of global culture, there can be a tendency to treat Western norms as if they were the only possible norms, the only ones that make sense, the only ones that deserve respect. In doing this, we in the West ignore the fact that our culture has its own curiosities, its own pieces of faulty logic, and its own gender discrimination.

      Morally, it is my absolute position that men and women are equal, should not be discriminated against by the law or individuals and have equal rights to determine the details of their own lives. In terms of culture, though… well, I think women in the UK have greater battles to fight towards equality than gaining the right to display their breasts in public (leaving aside the whole breastfeeding debate). And I could understand - and respect - an Egyptian or Bahraini woman who felt that it was more important for her to gain the right to compete in her chosen sport than to display her hair in public.

      Fundamentally, in the long hard road towards equality, I think that issues about what women wear are mostly side-notes. It is, I think, a part of an anti-feminist mindset to focus on what women are wearing and not what they’re saying or doing or thinking. It disturbs me that, in the great ideological debate between religions and secularism (in which I have some sympathies on both sides, but I think religions have a lot to answer for in their treatment of women) yet another battle is being fought over the territory of women’s bodies. And when Western societies talk about excluding hijab-wearing women from education, or employment, or any other field of life, they’re discriminating, very specifically, against women.

      So, is exposing your hair the same as exposing your breasts? In terms of the culture I live in, these two things are clearly different. Hair is coded as ‘an attractive feature’, bare breasts are coded as ‘an extremely sexual part of the body, only generally shown to a lover’. In moral terms, though: hair and breasts are both just parts of the body. We’ve all got a body, I can’t see that there’s any logical difference. The differences are cultural.

    138. Sunny — on 18th August, 2008 at 10:12 pm  

      Thank you Naomi, that was spot on.

      And I especially agreed with this:
      Fundamentally, in the long hard road towards equality, I think that issues about what women wear are mostly side-notes. It is, I think, a part of an anti-feminist mindset to focus on what women are wearing and not what they’re saying or doing or thinking.

      Well said.

    139. Desi Italiana, Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter all rolled into one, while referring to the UN report on women two times — on 18th August, 2008 at 10:13 pm  

      Alderman:

      “I think that with the increasingly homogenised ‘McDonalds-isation’ of global culture, there can be a tendency to treat Western norms as if they were the only possible norms, the only ones that make sense, the only ones that deserve respect.”

      I agree with this, though I think this is a bit western-centric. In non-western places, some people still do not treat or see western norms as default.

      “It is, I think, a part of an anti-feminist mindset to focus on what women are wearing and not what they’re saying or doing or thinking. It disturbs me that, in the great ideological debate between religions and secularism (in which I have some sympathies on both sides, but I think religions have a lot to answer for in their treatment of women) yet another battle is being fought over the territory of women’s bodies”

      Again, agreed completely.

      “In moral terms, though: hair and breasts are both just parts of the body. We’ve all got a body, I can’t see that there’s any logical difference. The differences are cultural.”

      With this, I also agree.

    140. Desi Italiana, Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter all rolled into one, while referring to the UN report on women two times — on 18th August, 2008 at 10:17 pm  

      Ala, apologies for sniping at your for ‘misinference,’ since judging from Alderman’s response, you were correct. For the life of me, though, I really could not gather that she was arguing that in her article (w/r/t using the examples of covering hair and breasts being the same).

    141. Don — on 18th August, 2008 at 11:12 pm  

      Thank you for a very persuasive response, Naomi. Is the thread staying open?

    142. sonia — on 19th August, 2008 at 2:10 pm  

      its all this false thinking that there is one feminism and also that “women’s thinking” is by virtue something good.
      or the view that if a woman is making her own choice, that’s where the buck stops, the woman’s not going to make a bad choice (like any other human)
      which some other human can then criticise, for its own sake. so there’s two things of course. (or many, all jumbled up into one)
      once we’ve got beyond the fact that individuals will make choices out of the constraints that face them, and will do so freely,
      then maybe we can talk about the set of constraints, and the impact of accepting the choices without kicking up a fuss/etc. about the constraints.
      Of course there are social pressures we all as individuals women as much as anyone else (ha only 50 of the population) i.e. any other human,
      will conform to and reproduce and thereby in time ensure our children will be subject to the same constraints.

      its silly and that discussions around hijab and ‘feminism’ always go the same way, with very little understanding of social dynamics, group psychology, sociology, peer pressure.
      the item of clothing is immaterial of course, its about the role of woman in society. and its not surprising different people have different views. those people who
      follow the establishment/tradition/ will of course defend their right to choose to carry on those traditions. people who want to break with those traditions
      will of course have different viewpoints and have opinions on the group structures that set up those traditions.

    143. Ala — on 19th August, 2008 at 5:03 pm  

      Ha. I was right all along. Apology accepted, Desi.

    144. Katy Newton — on 19th August, 2008 at 9:21 pm  

      I think the other thing that Ala was saying is that you can’t fight every feminist/cultural battle all the time. If you come from a culture where at the orthodox end women are discouraged from working and are also expected to cover up a particular part of the body, for example, I personally (and others may disagree) would think it was more important to push for the right to work before the right not to cover up.

    145. Katy Newton — on 19th August, 2008 at 9:21 pm  

      and by the way, I purposely did not single out Islam in that last comment because I think that there are lots of religions that work that way at the orthodox end and it wouldn’t be fair.

    146. Ala — on 19th August, 2008 at 11:21 pm  

      Yes Katy! Right now I’m working on something much more important than hijab, therefore I don’t have time to worry about it. In fact, it sometimes seems an irrelevant hindrance just thinking about it. If it makes this other thing easier for me to do, then I don’t care if I wear it.

    147. Desi Italiana, Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter all rolled into one — on 20th August, 2008 at 12:01 am  

      Katy:

      “I personally (and others may disagree) would think it was more important to push for the right to work before the right not to cover up.”

      I agree, though I don’t think it necessarily wrong to fight state stipulations on dress for both men AND women.

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