Feminism was born as movement to defend women’s rights in a “manly” world. Women couldn’t vote, manage their own money or receive education. Sufraggettes (for the opposed to this movement) or sufragists (as were known by supporters) were the first known modern movement in defense of women’s rights. Most of them also asked for less complicated attires: the new women found themselves much more comfortable in Coco Chanel’s dresses (elegant but simple and “casual“) than with meters and meters of fabric.
Looks like that now that revolution in clothing, is being critisized and considered not “feminist“. The “feminist” thing now is to wear a niqab or burqa, because then women are not objects to men’s eyes:
The West interprets veiling as repression of women and suppression of their sexuality. But when I travelled in Muslim countries and was invited to join a discussion in women-only settings within Muslim homes (sex seggregation!), I learned that Muslim attitudes toward women’s appearance and sexuality are not rooted in repression, but in a strong sense of public versus private, of what is due to God and what is due to one’s husband. It is not that Islam suppresses sexuality, but that it embodies a strongly developed sense of its appropriate channelling – toward marriage, the bonds that sustain family life, and the attachment that secures a home.
…At home, in the context of marital intimacy, Victoria’s Secret, elegant fashion and skin care lotions abounded. The bridal videos that I was shown, with the sensuous dancing that the bride learns as part of what makes her a wonderful wife, and which she proudly displays for her bridegroom, suggested that sensuality was not alien to Muslim women. Rather, pleasure and sexuality, both male and female, should not be displayed promiscuously – and possibly destructively – for all to see.
Phyllis Chesler writes about this:
Most Muslim girls and women are not given a choice about wearing the chador, burqa, abaya, niqab, jilbab, or hijab (headscarf), and those who resist are beaten, threatened with death, arrested, caned or lashed, jailed, or honor murdered by their own families. Is Wolfe thoroughly unfamiliar with the news coming out of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan on these very subjects? Has she forgotten the tragic, fiery deaths of those schoolgirls in Saudi Arabia who, in trying to flee their burning schoolhouse, were improperly veiled and who were beaten back by the all-powerful Saudi Morality Police?
It’s not only that, though. It’s interesting to note that she is an Al Gore’s former adviser, that is, politically she is sided on the democrat side. I wonder what this woman thinks of Hollywood films, publicity, etc. I would think that displaying sexuality (in some cases absolutely unnecesarily: woman nearly naked to sell youghourts…) would be her ideal and that conservatives supporting a less aggresive display of sexuality (i.e.: free porn on TV) could be considered as not “sexually liberated“. Sex within marriage, not before or with partners different to the married one, is ridiculed if it’s mantained by a Christian (specially Catholic). Well, I’m sure that in those cases she thinks that, of course, they have not a “healthy approach to sex“.
But if the women protesting about “men’s gaze” and supporting “sex channeled toward marriage and family” (whether they are free or not to choose it) are Muslims, dressed in a niqab/burqa or whatever, then they are liberated because they are “sexy” in their “marital intimacy“.
This article is worse than that mention though. It is like reading “The Book of One Thousand and One Nights“. Even if you’re writing an opinion piece, you must be at least neutral and balanced. And burqa/niqab is not only a dress, it’s a symbol. When you have guys like this one, defending beating your wife in an article titled “There must be violence against women“, with the subsequent defense of abuses made on women, it’s clear the robe is not only to protect women (or not mainly) but just to underline their character as a property (they even call the woman a toy) which belong to their husbands. The latter in exchange of protecting his investment, must also keep her apart from people who can damage that same investment. And lewd lookings from strangers are, of course, blamed on the women, not on the lewd looks’ owner. If she would have been burqa’d!
They forgot that also mystery plays an important role on sexuality and that sexual desire, both for men and women, begins in the mind. Thta’s why Muslim women can’t use high heels: they introduce on men’s head the idea of a sexy woman walking down the street, even if they actually hadn’t seen her. So, if they actually can’t see her, the sexual impulse in some cases can be even greater: that’s perhaps why there are so much women complaining about sexual abuses in Egypt, including hijab’d or veil’s wearers.
Sexual harassment has become an overwhelming and very real problem experienced by all women in Egyptian society, often on a daily basis,” said the report by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights.
So, first, they convince the girls they are not going to be assaulted if they wear those garments, and after that, the harrassment ends being a national problem. Some feminists in Western countries have recognised this phenomenon, but instead of blaming the stalker, blame the stalked women, surprisingly agreeing with some of the most radical imams. Unni Wikan is one of those stupid human beings who support that idea:
Dr. Unni Wikan, a professor of social anthropology at the University of Oslo. Wikan’s solution for the high incidence of Muslims raping Norwegian women (who are committing the crime of being unveiled) stresses neither punishment of the perpetrators nor repudiation of the Islamic theology that legitimizes such abuse of women. Rather, Wikan instructs Norwegian women to veil themselves. “Norwegian women must understand that we live in a Multicultural society,” she states ” and adapt themselves to it.”
Of course, Wolf actually is not defending this harrassment, her vision being much more “idealised”:
When sexuality is kept private and directed in ways seen as sacred – and when one’s husband isn’t seeing his wife (or other women) half-naked all day long – one can feel great power and intensity when the headscarf or the chador comes off in the the home.
Sexual fantasies are varied: mystery bases a lot of them. Precisely, sexual taboos in Islamic societies make fantasies extremely attractive and the fact that the culture considers that women are inferior to men and basically sexually active, sinners, easies the idea of them being asking for sexual harrassment. If they don’t wear hijab/veil/… because they are demanding it (theory defended by more than one imam along the world, al Hilali for example). If they wear it, because they are also demanding it. A Saudi imam even demanded a one-eyed veil, because if a woman showed both eyes, that was, without doubt, sexually arousing.
Little Miss Attile points another obvious stupid reasoning:
Wolf:The Western Christian tradition portrays all sexuality, even married sexuality, as sinful. Islam and Judaism never had that same kind of mind-body split. So, in both cultures, sexuality channeled into marriage and family life is seen as a source of great blessing, sanctioned by God.
And she later comments about it:
I’d be interested in how “married sexuality” got to be sinful in the Christian tradition without making it into scripture. Or how Judaism is pro-sex, and led to Christianity, which is anti-sex, which led to Islam, which is also pro-sex. Does celebration of human sexuality skip a tradition within the world’s religions? Just askin’. And why do I get the feeling that Wolf has never read Song of Solomon—or listened to Frank Zappa’s “Catholic Girls”?
It’s interesting to note that Catholic countries such as Italy or Spain have an important tradition to paint nude women:
There are other manifestations of culture (sculpture, dancing…) which have not any kind of “pious” nature.
That doesn’t mean that they supported a “free sex” attitude. But certainly I doubt that, being accurate, one can defend that sex in marriage was considered as sinful, except by some heretic branches from the Middle Ages, such as the Cathars. But if the birth of sons was the first end of matrimony, the consideration of sex as sinful would have been idiot and stupid, because they would have prevented them from fulfilling that first and main end.
The final point on the article is that Ms Wolf is not even familiar with the garments she has herself used or at least, with the differences between different Islamic attires. She is speaking about “veiled” women, but she has only used a shalwar kameez, not a niqab or a burqa. Something interesting if you happen to be writing about Islamic dress. In the link there are photos to show the differences. The shalwar kameez is more like the Indian Hindu dress.
Lastly,even when she has seen his article contradicted, she is demanding an apology. Laughable.
- Hijab in Islam, why Hijab is necessary? A very interesting link: the hijab in Muslims’ own words.
- The Women of Islam, TIME.
- Women’s Dress Code and Conduct: “A women is a object of concealment, thus when she emerges, Satan surreptitiously pursues her (and lays in wait to create his fitna for immorality)“.
- The Violent Oppression of Women in Islam. Video. Warning:Graphic Images.
- The Place of Women in Islam.