Friday, March 23, 2007

this war...

Overheard: "But when it comes to adultery, it's 90 per cent the women's responsibility. Why? Because a woman possesses the weapon of seduction. It is she who takes off her clothes, shortens them, flirts, puts on make-up and powder and takes to the streets, God protect us, dallying. It's she who shortens, raises and lowers. Then it's a look, then a smile, then a conversation, a greeting, then a conversation, then a date, then a meeting, then a crime, then Long Bay jail. (laughs).
Then you get a judge, who has no mercy, and he gives you 65 years.
But when it comes to this disaster, who started it? In his literature, scholar al-Rafihi says: 'If I came across a rape crime – kidnap and violation of honour – I would discipline the man and order that the woman be arrested and jailed for life.' Why would you do this, Rafihi? He says because if she had not left the meat uncovered, the cat wouldn't have snatched it."

I have sat through this detestable sermon before. Girls and women should cover themselves, dress modestly, so they do not inspire undesirable thoughts and actions in boys and men. The sexual urges of men, the acts of objectification and violence that follow, these are the fault of women, the way they dress, and how they treat men. They bring it upon themselves. I grew up on it, a staple sermon, explicitly given from the pulpit, and implicitly repeated and affirmed by my mother. It is not just from conservative pulpits that one hears it, it is the attitude of frat boys and 'pimps' who take the dress of the woman as permission before a word is ever spoken, a statement of her wishes towards him. Show The Accused to a full room and are we so confident what the reaction will be? The film remains controversial twenty years later (which is not all that long really). So when this attitude, still prevalent, is heard from a Muslim pulpit, instead of the Christian pulpit which I sat in the shadow of, and it is met with outrage, one wonders where all the outrage is the rest of the time. Where are the denouncements of objectification and rape every other day? Why is it so quiet in here?

Rene Magritte, "Les Jours Gigantesques" (1928)

Overheard: “FIFA rules state that they are not going to let players play if they are going to put themselves or other players at risk…if it becomes untucked and the player is running on a breakaway, for example, and another player pulls on it, I would imagine it would be quite a jar to the neck and head of the player wearing the headgear.”

She imagines?! Is it not her complete inability to imagine, her completely inability to understand, why someone might wear a headscarf that is more than clear in her statement? This was the absurd statement given by the technical director of the Quebec Football Federation in response the ejection of an 11 year old Muslim girl from a soccer tournament for the sole reason that she was wearing a headscarf. Sadly, her team and four others that walked out of the tournament following the ruling seem to have a greater understanding of the issues at stake than did this woman who holds a position of authority in the sport. One is more than tempted to see the Western distrust of the hijab and, even more, niqaab, as little more than an insistence that women be made to recall that in the West they are public property who ought be readily and visibly available to the mal(e)-formed consumer. And in this case, its best they learn it while they are still young.

Rene Magritte, "La Grande Guerre" (1964)

Overheard: “The exercise of the right to castigate does not fulfill the hardship criteria as defined by Paragraph 1565 (of German federal law).”

Meanwhile, Continental Europe seems unable to shake off the ghosts of fascism that continue to walk the halls of government. France has passed a law banning women from wearing hijab in schools and while working in government buildings. This supposed effort to liberate women from their oppressors in fact seems nothing more than a statement that the French government does not think Muslim women are worth educating nor do they want them representing France. This disdain for Muslim women was again repeated in the past few weeks just next door in Germany when a German divorce court effectively ruled that it was permissible for a man to beat his Moroccan wife. Apparently what was so outrageous when spoken by a Muslim Australian cleric less than a year ago, is in fact the official position of the German state: women only have the rights that a mal(e)-formed culture is willing to give them.



Samaha said...

If only all oppression of women lied in the fabric of that scarf. The scarf that each Muslim women is to choose to wear, the one she is condemned if she doesn't wear it, the one where she is misunderstood if she does wear it.

Outside of the ME a woman being forced to wear the scarf is pretty scarce and it would be best if we could concentrate on the bigger issues of female oppression - the rape and abuse that goes on accross every culture and economic status.

Thanks for the reminder LoA!

Lawrence of Arabia said...

the anglo-european countries continue to butcher their relationships with their muslim residents to the point where it is becoming inexplicable. the consistent bigotry and racism is going to continue to erode what little legitimacy they have left as ambassadors for "freedom".

ladies and gentlemen, liberty has left the building!


koonj said...

It has indeed. Exclusive liberty for a select few is not liberty at all.

Beautifully said, Lawrence. As always.

Irving said...

America was founded on white liberty for men, not for women or any person of any other color. It was not until 1920 that women were givent the right to vote, not until 1965 that blacks were given the Civil Rights Act. White rich men are slow to learn, and it usually only learns at the point of a riot or march or fat white rich politicians fear of losing an election. This white male supremacy syndrome is a disease, and thanks to Colonialism, has spread over much of the earth. No wonder the US and England and Western Europe are hated, though many flock here for a better life, ie, economic opportunity.

We really NEED a black, or woman, or hispanic, president. Or a combination of all three. And a much better social contract.

Hillary or Obama for President, and vice president, Bill Richardson as Sec. of State.

Ya Haqq!

Lawrence of Arabia said...

political liberalism has always had to expand its understanding of who "universal rights" belonged to and this has always come through a bit of crisis. clearly this time will be no different.

so far, though, liberalism has proved durable enough to adapt to these challenges and i doubt its capacities are exhausted.


George Carty said...

Isn't there a much simpler reason why Westerners are suspicious of hijab?

Islamic civilization hails from peninsular Arabia - one of the sunniest places on Earth.

Modern Western civilization hails from northwestern Europe - one of the cloudiest places on Earth.

Many Westerners long to expose their bodies to the sun - a mere visit to a travel agents' shop is enough to confirm this. Given these facts, it is not surprising that they believe that Muslim women can only be covering up due to male coercion...