more often than not, muslim and non western women in general, are seen as licentious when they speak up or try to gain any kind of independence or agency. these same women are also criticized as being ‘western’ if they speak against wearing hijab or niqab or any cover up.http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/femens-neocolonial-feminism-when-nudity-becomes-uniform
today, this concept has become not only a virtual reality but a real-world reality in the amina tyler case. amina, a muslim girl who unveiled a naked breastful of slogans is making headlines. since the explosion of this scandal in tunisia, news sources revealed that amina has been struck by her cousin, placed in a psychiatric hospital, forcibly medicated and remains sequestered somewhere after a death condemnation by religious fanatics. such are the wages for revealing her topless sloganed body. such are the wages for having transgressed man-made laws and traditions which condemn nudity and those not respecting that religion.
this covering-up issue of muslim women have sustained some noteworthy comments. Bruce Michel [ i don’t know where i read this, sorry!] from Dayton OH asks an interesting question: if it is considered sinful for a man to lust after anyone except his wife, then should not the onus be on the man to behave and think properly? he states that in some religions men want to enforce ludicrous standards of body covering on women rather than taking responsibility for their actions.
this point, well taken, makes us wonder about how muslim women have become such objects of desire and temptation that it is necessary to shelter them from men’s eyes. and why they must women go in hiding when they hear men’s voices or lower their heads and gaze when spoken to by brothers, fathers or other men. why a simple unveiling is enough to be a whore or scorned woman. but is also begs another question: why men allow themselves to take more than one wife. in other religions that is a sin so it’s hard to imagine that women don’t feel the hurt when their men do that [this is explored in the iranian film leila by dariush mehrjui].
it’s almost as though the men have little else to do but to scrutinize women scrupulously to see how far they can go to become an object of temptation. it is here that if one considers men’s behavior of looking as per bruce Michel question, one wonders what is there in a long black, completely covered up, floating dress that is tempting men, if not that the man’s eyes is undressing the woman underneath. women hate these looks from men on the streets – where such disrespectful behavior is permitted. they hate the looks that undress them when they are fully clothed and the worst thing is that they cannot do a thing about it! i remember in Persepolis where marjane is completely covered and running to classes at the university only to be stopped by the police officer. her crime being that her butt cheeks are moving and is provocative to the officer. that’s it? that’s his sole pre occupation in policing those iranian streets? perhaps then such men do have nothing else but to look for so-called crimes by women.
such behavior in films and reality do beg the question why these men cannot interiorize respect towards their female counterparts. why must women cover up because men are incapable of focusing on something other than a woman’s covered butt cheeks or in the west, her decollete or bosom or tight jeans? does the coran need to be constantly quoted by fanatics usually male – to keep women in check? or should it rather be written by women to keep men in check and teach them to control themselves and have just one wife, among other things? did it ever occur to men in such traditions that women DO succeed in controlling their gaze or desire? or do these men think women have no desire? women do desire, like men breathe. still, all the covering up is left up to women. not men. could it be that the men who fuss over women’s attire is because they don’t want to trouble themselves with controlling themselves, so they tell women to cover up – head to toe- and the matter is over? nothing more to be said!
there is a another very interesting comment submitted by an Angelika and directed towards men (not verified) at http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/femens-neocolonial-feminism-when-nudity-becomes-uniform : “if you cannot control yourself by seeing a woman’s hair or body – you did not evolve from an animal. I refuse to cover myself because men are savages! i can choose to cover myself for other reasons but I will not protect myself from your sexual predator behaviours by covering myself. showing my hair or body or not has nothing to do with protection of my dignity – you violating my body has all to do with it.”
it is poignant because it shows muslim women will speak if allowed. and speak they will! here it’s anonymous and safe to voice, so they do for there’s no real fear of harm to them. but in reality they dare not! we’ve seen what that has earned them, not just in the amina case.
the kind of islam that bashes women who don’t want to wear the hijab or burqa or niqab etc has to understand that we all, male and female, must coexist in the 21st century. and whether it is femen calling that to their attention [no matter how unfit they are doing it for those women] or someone else, it has to be done. it is done by others like femen because women in such societies are not allowed a voice. such an islam is inculcating concepts in order for men only to live in peace with themselves and in society, but not for women. it continues to restrict open-mindedness from its practitioners under the aegis of religion, not realizing that open-mindedness is necessary to evolve, whether in scientific research, creating art or works of art, discussing with people whose ideas are different in order to simply discover, being open towards others and others’ customs etc. their men evolve in this 21st century, and their women stay handcuffed to the middle ages. if this kind of islam doesn’t understand that restriction only leads to more troubles, it will condemn itself to remaining obsolete and more amina tylers will come forth to unveil it.
this behavior seems to be prevalent wherever democracy has been scaled back, and wherever that has happened, there’s been a restriction to women rights, too. prostitution, trafficking of women and girls, forced marriages, female mutilations, female infanticide, rape are just some of the signs that women’s rights are restricted and that change hasn’t come to those places for women in centuries.
another comment made by a susanah from france on the 25 apr [again i don’t recall where i read this comment] is also interesting : faith is of the soul, religiosity is not. yet both Muslims and Christians sects behave as if women have only half souls or no soul at all. The logic of restricting another’s behavior for their own good is astounding. I find all nearly all religions restrictive of human rights. I don’t understand the allure of any organized religion…
and while these religions restrict women’s rights, sexual assaults are happening right before our very eyes when women are dressed modestly. nuns in full habits have been assaulted, as well as women in burqas. and babies and old women have been victims. who’s at fault in these cases? the child for dressing slutty? does the same religion have a comment on that?
my own question is ‘how come muslim women from where i come do not cover up, but go to mosques and pray and are independent, strong successful women? they don’t wear burqas, niqabs or hijabs [it’s 80 plus degrees everyday!] so how does the same coran they follow demand that other women wear black or/and cover entirely in parts of the islamic world when it is as hot and men dress coolly? when pakistani muslim wear wonderful, vibrant colors and no niqabs or full cover up, are they following the same islam or coran? and when a 19yr old girl can set the Islamic world on fire by baring her breasts, what does that say about islam? why does her right to choose to cover up or unveil have the power of turning a whole religion on its head? in these same places men’s destructive behavior are the norm and have been normalized to a good extent while women’s are not.
whatever femen is or is not, it has enabled the covering-up issue or unveiling of muslim women as not just a combat for women – repressed or not- but also a combat for men. religious men. this warrior female organization has sustained comments from muslim men like “dirty pigs, even your men will not ‘bed’ [this is not the word expressed] you! come to Tunisia, we will cut your breasts off and give them to the dogs. die, dirty whores of israel! the real impact is «Sales cochonnes, même vos hommes ne vous baiseraient pas! Venez ici en Tunisie, nous vous couperons les seins et nous les donnerons à bouffer à nos chiens. Mourez sales putes d’Israël!»
if veiling is proof of some sort of virility or power in those places, and in the west it is a sign of undressing a woman, what do we make of this and the strong vehement comments made by men against femen above?
“why are the men or imams or fathers or brothers the first to defend the headscarf law in france or the first to insist on women wearing it? where are the women’s voices? in all the online placards from muslimah pride i saw, i noticed that there’s not one man holding a placard! in the delhi rape case in india in dec 2012, men lined the streets in protest as women did to call for justice. is the women’s silence in muslimah pride due to the fact that disobedience can be lethal as we have seen since amina tyler posed topless? she’s gone from the media, covered up in some unknown place ‘for her protection’. but from whom? why not let god punish her if it is written in the holy books?
it is not difficult to see that men want to be women’s dress code as well as women’s body code. and thus fairly clear that this dress code is a social construction mainly masculine, just as it was in christianity hundreds of years ago. it must be understood that neither establishing a dress code for women nor forcing or encouraging them to strip is freedom for them. one is just as bad as the other. they are both taking her freedom, her right to choose and whether religion or femen, both advocate just as much of an extremist as those they protest against.