Incompatibles


Sooraya Graham is very confused. She wants to be liberal and free and provocative, and she also wants to be reactionary and veiled and submissive. She’s an art student, see. She wears hijab. She took a picture of a friend of hers who wears a niqab and abaya, holding a bra. She wanted to “humanize” her.

Graham said her intention had been to “humanize” women who wear the niqab, which covers a woman’s entire head except for her eyes, by showing one doing a simple act that many women can relate to.

The way to “humanize” women who wear the niqab is to persuade them to stop wearing it. The niqab is a dehumanizing object, and that’s the point of it. That’s why it’s a bad thing – because it’s dehumanizing. Graham shouldn’t be trying to make it seem less horrible; she should be resisting it. She’s confused.

Comments

  1. says

    I found the photo more subversive than the photographer apparently does — to me, it forces the viewer to acknowledge the fact that, under the cloak, Muslim women still wear lingerie, thus that they have, well, female bodies and ladyparts and sexuality and all that icky stuff certain parties want to suppress. Which is no doubt why certain parties want to censor it. And I’m more disturbed by the attempt to censor, and by the fact that there isn’t more outrage over the censorship, and that apparently no one has loudly told the Saudi embassy to STFU and MYOB, than by the fact that Ms. Graham is confused by her own work.

  2. says

    Yes Eamon, you are quite right. The main issue here is censorship: specifically the right of one or more ‘offended’ individuals to keep the work from the view of those who are not ‘offended’.

    “Graham turned over a business card left by the alleged culprit to the chair of her visual arts program after the mid-March incident. When he asked the woman to return the image, she at first refused to do so without an agreement the photo would not be posted up again, Graham said.

    “Eventually, administrators retrieved the photo without making any deals. Graham learned the woman had been acting on behalf of several non-fine arts students who had been offended by the image…”

    Fortunately, the officials concerned did not show the common official timidity when confronted by ‘offended’ Muslims. They said ‘no deals’ on the return of stolen property.

    A better move, morally, legally and politically, would have been to report the theft and the thief to the police.

  3. Dianne says

    The way to “humanize” women who wear the niqab is to persuade them to stop wearing it.

    Funny, I would have thought that the way to humanize women wearing…anything at all, from a bit of body paint to a burqa, would be to convince men that women should be treated as equal human beings, not objects.

    It’s not women who need to change, but men. Concentrating on what women wear and banning certain articles of clothing (as was done in France) strikes me as attacking an epiphenomenon at best.

  4. says

    Confused? I’m not sure that’s the right word.

    She seems to me to be looking for some sort of middle ground between fundamental Islam and fundamental liberalism.

    It might be a search for the Holy Grail, the Lost Chord, Lasseter’s Reef or whatever other near-hopeless goal; naive perhaps, or maybe stubborn or fanciful. But then again, in a minor sort of way it puts her in the same league as Captain Cook and Christopher Columbus.

    Anyhow, she wouldn’t be the first artiste to be confused, or to express such.

    ;-)

  5. says

    Well, women need to change too; those who wear the hijab or the burqa voluntarily, for example. They’re dehumanizing themselves. Women who support FGM (and those who perform it) are another example.

    And France banned certain articles of clothing in schools and other state buildings, not everywhere. And sure, the items may be an epiphenomenon, but they have real consequences.

  6. Dianne says

    Well, women need to change too; those who wear the hijab or the burqa voluntarily, for example. They’re dehumanizing themselves.

    How so? Why is the hijab more dehumanizing than any other clothing that women wear despite its discomfort in order to satisfy men? For example, high heals which are painful, damaging and make it difficult for women to move comfortably, but are worn because (some, often powerful) men find them attractive?

  7. Dianne says

    Fortunately, first world men have figured out how to get by with social shaming and haven’t resorted to whipping or even shunning to the point of starvation for at least a good 100 years or so. Well, at least 50. For the most part.

    Women being whipped or killed for their clothing choice strikes me as a more important issue than whether or not that clothing choice involves a head scarf.

  8. Dianne says

    Who is manipulating who here?

    I apologize if I misunderstand you, but this comes across as “what about the menz?”

    Men insist that women be beautiful or non-existent. Part of being “beautiful” for women is wearing uncomfortable clothing that restricts movement and manipulating your body in dangerous and painful ways.

  9. mnb0 says

    It’s not so clear that women wear high heels to please men – it might very well be that their main motivation is to impress each other.
    Women definitely do not wear niqaab’s and burqa’s to impress each other, but to accommodate men’s fears for their own sexual demons.

  10. Dianne says

    It’s not so clear that women wear high heels to please men – it might very well be that their main motivation is to impress each other.

    Why not say the same thing about burqas? I’m sure that for the most part it’s women who tell other women (or girls) to wear a burqa or niqua or hijab. Most girls are probably told by their mothers that it’s time to start wearing a hijab. They’re probably often excited and happy to be entering the “adult” world. Much like a western girl getting excited about putting on makeup and heals for the first time.

    It’s usually women who overtly notice what other women are wearing or how much they weigh or how much makeup they have on. But it’s in the service of the patriarchy and making women look like an acceptable clone of a supposed ideal that’s behind it. By pretending that it’s all women’s idea, men get to play the “good guys”, i.e. the man who says, “Why do women diet all the time? I think anorexic models look awful.” or “Why do you wear those silly heals?” They look all enlightened that way and still get what they want: Women who aren’t able to spend all their energy concentrating on competing with them.

  11. Godless Heathen says

    The niqab is dehumanizing. That’s the point of it. A woman covers everything except her eyes and she suddenly has no personality, no individuality, and is indistinguishable from every other woman wearing a niqab.

  12. says

    “Why do women diet all the time?”

    Good question.

    I am one who also thinks anorexic models look awful. But it was explained to me this way by a female (and feminist) friend: the main direct male influence on the fashion trade is via the(overwhelmingly homosexual) male population in it. They in turn select the women with the figures they find most attractive: ie boyish ones. So masses of young women finish up trying to conform to the male homosexual idea of feminine beauty.

  13. Anteprepro says

    So, Ian…you are going to lay the blame for women starving themselves to remain thin in the name of Beauty at the feet of either the women themselves and/or gay men? That’s pretty fucking low.

    If you had actually read what Dianne said, you would see she already mentioned that the (largely heterosexual) patriarchy is what makes a woman’s beauty such a big fucking deal in the first place. As for blaming the gays for “anorexic models” in the fashion industry: how do you explain the obsession with female thinness for actresses, female singers, and porn stars? How did Teh Gheyz possibly gain the power to demand female thinness there? I’m sorry, but I think it is far more parsiminious to see “anorexic models” as a natural byproduct of a culture where thinness is a prerequisite for female beauty. Instead of believing that it is due to gay men trying to get female models to look more masculine (!).

    Blaming gay men for one of many problems women face due to cultural sexism seems just like it is a conservative wet dream. They get to scapegoat a minority group they hate for a problem that is otherwise completely unrelated to that minority, in order to ignore how much that the conservatives themselves contribute to the problem, in the name of protecting “traditional roles”.

    So, who was this female feminist friend of yours? Ayn Rand? Phyllis Schafly? A sockpuppet with lipstick smears?

    *Side note: Did you/your feminist friend seriously suggest that gay men’s are attracted to “boyish” features? Not manly, but “boyish”? I know that it is the best way to phrase in order to make the inane argument not look laughable, but the word choice also rather reeks of bigot, fyi.

  14. says

    Anteprepro:

    I suspected my post would trigger a politically correct rant from somewhere. I also assure you my mature-age friend’s feminist credentials are impeccable.

    All the polls I have seen aiming to find out the majority male concept of feminine beauty report that anorexic does not equal beautiful in most mens’ eyes. So I am definitely not in a minority.

    When you have a chance, compare the photos of women in magazines aimed at the (straight) male market, (eg Playboy) and compare them with those aimed at the female market (eg Madison).

    Side note: anorexic models look more boyisn than mannish. Eny fule kno that.

  15. says

    Why is the hijab more dehumanizing than any other clothing that women wear despite its discomfort in order to satisfy men?

    Because it covers your face. If you don’t see someone’s face, it’s a lot harder to empathize with them, and it’s a lot easier to ignore their pain, discomfort, humiliation and degradation.

    You could make an argument that it’s on the same spectrum as something like botox, but it’s nothing like shoes. And botox isn’t routinely given to girls once they hit puberty until they die. Women may be shamed for having wrinkles, but thankfully, we’re not beaten for leaving the house without a morning injection.

    As for this photo, I’m glad she’s trying to humanize Muslim women, but she’s very, very confused over who is dehumanizing them. It isn’t her classmates or professor, whose reaction can be described as, “Meh. Muslim women wear bras. Duh?” It’s the people ripping her picture down, outraged at the very idea that Muslim women are human.

  16. Anteprepro says

    A few things, Ian:

    -Using “politically correct” as a dismissive label is almost exclusively done by reactionary morons who think spouting nonsense should earn nothing but golf claps and astonished praise. Thought you should know.

    -Whether or not most men consider extremely thin women attractive is irrelevant unless you are also going to be bold enough to claim that men don’t care whether a woman is thin at all. Because it is pretty much undeniable that most men demand thinness. “Anorexic models” are taking that cue, which is definitely not just the opinion of a few gay men, and running with it. Even if most men don’t actually prefer super-thin, they prefer some kind of thin to those who are not thin. That was pretty much my main fucking point, if you cared to actually read something someone said to you. The same thing happens with breasts. Men in general like bigger boobs, even if there is a point where increasingly more think the size is too big. If a woman gets breast implants and goes past that point, it was because she attempted to follow the general rules of thumb our culture has regarding “beauty” and accidentally went too far with it. That’s what is most likely happening with “anorexic models”. Your alternative theory is outlandish.

    -Your argument was that homosexuals were attracted to boyish looks. The term “boyish” suggests youth. As in, it says that homosexuals are attracted to boys. Admitting that models couldn’t be described as manly is accepting my point, not refuting it.

  17. OurSally says

    Thin models: I sew a fair amount myself, so have an eye for sizes and such. Couturiers prefer to model on very thin women or men because everything looks better on them. They would look good in diving suits. It’s the easy answer.

    Even the German magazine Brigitte, which has decided to use readers as models instead of the professional kind, uses tall thin
    women because they look better in the strange and expensive things they are advertising – clothes no-one would actually go out and buy.

    Now a real artiste would be able to design clothes which look fabulous on short, deskbound, over-50 folk like me. The best is the team at Burda, which gets back to the reason I do my own sewing when I want special clothes.

  18. says

    Ultimately, to forbid the wearing of a bin-bag is just as much a fascistic approach as the forcing them to be worn. While I will grant you there are some men who force their women (I use the term “their women” with irony) to wear the niqab, there are undoubtedly many who wear them because they want to, however ill-informed it is.

    And to tell them they can’t is just another bit of western imperialist our-culture-is-better being thrust down the throats of everyone who doesn’t share a dress-code that ultimately starts in Hollywood.

    As for the blether above about high heels and all that, a case in point. “Why do you feel the need to wear those ridiculous shoes?” I asked my wife. She suffers from medical problems caused in part by dangerously uncomfortable clothing, like a good 90% of the female population. “To look good at work.” But who for? I paraphrase: “My colleagues, of course. I don’t want to be the only woman to be left out. They’ll all laugh at me.”

    So don’t give me all that rubbish about the patriarchal hegemony of male chauvinist attitudes (or however it was worded in the blethering twaddle above) – women dress the way they do for each other, because they choose to, because they want to be objects of sexual attraction. Anyone arguing otherwise is deluded or lying.

  19. says

    Matt Westwood, are you a government cyborg running the latest trollware operating system, or are you just mad, bro?

    Because I seriously got me some bingo just now.

  20. Godless Heathen says

    The reason women put lots of effort into our looks is that we are taught (generally, by society) that our worth is based on our ability to look youthful, healthy, and be sexually attractive to men. The details of what traits make women look youthful, healthy, and sexually attractive may change based on the particular decade you’re in, but those expectations are still there.

    We are taught that our worth is based mostly (if not solely) on our looks. Therefore, we put lots of time, effort, and thought into them.

    Women judge other women using those same standards because of internalized sexism.

    Not to mention humans’ general need to conform.

  21. says

    And France banned certain articles of clothing in schools and other state buildings, not everywhere. And sure, the items may be an epiphenomenon, but they have real consequences.

    That’s wrong. Originally the ban extended only to schools, but France banned the burqa and niqab in all public places in April 2011, and women can be arrested for wearing one. This policy has been disastrous for Muslim women in France, leading to harassment, discrimination, and Muslim women being afraid to go out in public. See also.

    Let’s stop dictating to women what they should and shouldn’t be wearing. It’s their body and their choice, and you can’t “liberate” people by arresting them for wearing the “wrong” clothes.

  22. says

    Ian MacDougall:

    I suspected my post would trigger a politically correct rant

    Yes, you’re so oppressed because other people expect you to check your male privilege — i.e., listen to women, whose voices and lived experiences as women are nowhere near represented in the mainstream the way yours are as a man’s, and not just try to mansplain to us What It’s All About because of Your Superior Powers Of Observation.

    If your “feminist friend” exists at all, her “credentials” are beside the point. Everybody, even feminists, is capable of spouting bigoted nonsense at least occasionally, including bigotry against one’s own group (in this case, internalized misogyny). Everybody who grew up in the same culture absorbed the same cultural ideals in their formative stages, even if individual influences on expression of those ideals differed.

    Matt Westwood, obviously your wife is enough of a sample size to extrapolate to all women. Because wimminz is all a hive mind, of course. When’s the last time you extrapolated from what one man said to what all men think? I mean, other than yourself, of course?

    Walton: Agreed 100%.

  23. says

    Anteprepro:

    “Using ‘politically correct’ as a dismissive label is almost exclusively done by reactionary morons who think spouting nonsense should earn nothing but golf claps and astonished praise. Thought you should know.”

    And a merry Christmas to you, too.

    “Whether or not most men consider extremely thin women attractive is irrelevant unless you are also going to be bold enough to claim that men don’t care whether a woman is thin at all. Because it is pretty much undeniable that most men demand thinness.”

    Perhaps the self-contradictions and absurdities in the above (quote from you @ #20) could be resolved if, say, you were to visit the odd luchroom of the odd workshop or garage and check out the photos of women on the calendars put out by spare parts-accessories dealers. (Note: I am not saying you should approve of such objets d’art.)

    The scantily clad women therein have in my experience never, I repeat NEVER been anorexic stick figures. Not like the countless models sent to pout and glare their way down the catwalks of the big name fashion shows while draped in the inspirations of the various haut coutouriers.

    Nor, as a general rule, do heterosexual men buy womens’ fashion magazines; nor are they seen ogling them while waiting for a haircut or for a tooth to be filled. (I’ll leave you to guess why not.) The women in the ads in the sportin’ shootin’ fishin’ campin’ outdoorsy 4WD and revhead mags (ie the ones aimed at the mainstream male market) are generally a helluva lot better filled out. (I’ll leave it to you to guess why. Hint: those mags are into market research.)

    My feminist friend happens to be a scientist highly regarded in her own field: a person used to observing various phenomena and framing hypotheses which might go some way towards explaining or accounting for them. I confess that I had never heard that explanation before, but it had the virtue of fitting the facts it was explaining. That makes it quite distinctly unlike the one-size-fits-all explanation offered for anything and everything women wear, do, think, have done to them (eg FGM) etc. By which I of course mean ‘men make them do it'; ‘it’s all the fault of patriarchy'; ‘sexism’… Or whatever the current flavour of the month is.

    If you search the archives of B&W you will find stacks of comments by me (under my own name) that are highly critical of the Islamic dress laws that are the subject of this thread. (NB I lived for a short time in Iran).

    I have also been highly condemnatory of FGM and the forced wearing of bourkers and hijabs. But I have run afoul of the politically correct brigade by pointing out that FGM is never performed on young girls by Muslim men, and always by Muslim women, who could sabotage the whole infernal process and custom if they wanted to. Except that they don’t want to. And that takes a bit more explanation than the brand of patriarchy-is-to-blame PC tripe you are inclined to offer.

  24. says

    @ 25 – fair point – I thought Dianne was referring to the first ban rather than the second.

    Yessenia @ 19 – you say it’s nothing like shoes – well it’s true that blotting out the face is a special kind of dehumanization, but still, shoes are far from trivial; the footbinding type are physically disabling. This can also be an aristocratic thing: in some times and places men too have worn elaborate, disabling shoes, as a way to display their distance from physical labor. But here and now (in the developed world) it’s only women who do that.

    My favorite (in a weird sense of “favorite”) illustration of this: the streets around the World Trade Center were littered with high heels on 9/11.

  25. Godless Heathen says

    @Walton,

    Let’s stop dictating to women what they should and shouldn’t be wearing.

    *Sigh* If only…

  26. says

    But it had good consequences for other Muslim women and girls – which was at least part of the point. A lot – I think the majority – of Muslim women and girls welcomed it, as a protection from community pressure.

  27. says

    But it had good consequences for other Muslim women and girls – which was at least part of the point. A lot – I think the majority – of Muslim women and girls welcomed it, as a protection from community pressure.

    Do you have any evidence at all to back up this claim?

  28. Lyanna says

    Oh, good grief, Ian. Men’s magazines have models just as skinny as women’s magazines. Here’s Cosmopolitan magazine, for women, and then here’s Maxim’s (a men’s magazine) 2011 Hot 100.

    In porn, it’s just the same, except the women have huge breasts. But they have scrawny waistlines to go along with their huge breasts!

    As for your claptrap about “PC,” I have news for you: feminists have been talking about women’s enforcement of patriarchal norms since, oh, Mary Wollstonecraft. Women’s involvement doesn’t make the norms less patriarchal, since “patriarchy” doesn’t mean “men.” Patriarchy literally means “rule by the fathers”; it’s a social system where power is vested in men, but women can and do prop up the system.

  29. says

    Have you thought of looking it up?

    The onus is on the person making a claim to cite their sources. Please explain where you’re getting this particular “fact”.

    There are few reliable statistics even on how many women wear Muslim religious dress in France, let alone what “the majority” of Muslim women and girls think about the ban on religious symbols in schools. Thus far, all I’ve ever seen from the pro-ban side is ideological grandstanding; I’m more keen on listening to the voices of actual Muslim women and girls and letting them make the decision, not a bunch of white Western legislators.

  30. says

    ” …it’s a social system where power is vested in men, but women can and do prop up the system.”

    And what happens when the propping up ceases?

  31. says

    Point is, no social system in Western culture forces women to wears stupid and impractical clothes. Women can choose to wear exactly what they want. And they choose to wear 6″ heels and 4″ miniskirts, and totter round town on a Friday night, blah blah … why? Certainly not for me. If it was just for “finding a mate” then maybe, but come on, married women (and those in relationships) do the same. You can not deny that it’s peer pressure, to be part of a bunch of girls on a night out. You may say “it’s cos it’s what men want” but the point is, as I say, there is nobody FORCING these women to do it, they do it ultimately out of CHOICE.

  32. says

    A few weeks ago I was at Darling Harbour waiting for friends and observing the passing throng. There were women in trousers, women in skirts, women whose ankles were hidden, women with legs all the way to the bum, women with low cut neck-lines, women with high neck-lines, women in blouses, women in shirts, women in long, dark, floaty robes like fortune tellers, one woman wearing a smart business suit (where was she going on a Sunday morning?), another with a frilly skirt and lots of petticoats (auditioning for Bye Bye Birdie?), women in sandals, sensible shoes, short boots, long boots, low-heeled, high-heeled, bare feet.

    My wife spoke disparagingly of some of he outfits, but I pointed out that it was their own choice and that was better than some prelate or mullah dictating what they should wear. She remarked that, yes, if you want to look like a dag, in our society you have the freedom to do so. (You even have the freedom to wear socks with sandals, but perhaps that is going a bit too far.)

  33. dirigible says

    “Point is, no social system in Western culture forces women to wears stupid and impractical clothes.”

    It does however strongly coerce them to.

  34. says

    I got it from memory, and you’re right, I misremembered. It was 40% “according to some polls.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3474673.stm

    Not a majority.

    That’s a bit vague. I note that it also doesn’t say anything about their motivations, nor does it tell us what proportion of the Muslim women who responded to these polls actually wear the hijab or other religious clothing in the first place (not all do, of course).

    Cennet Doganay shaved her head, and some girls have been expelled from school – and thus deprived of the fundamental right to an education – because of the ban. Given the inherent paternalism and interference with civil liberties in telling women and girls what they may and may not wear, I’m strongly opposed to the ban in schools – though I’ve been more vocal in opposition to the ban on the burqa and niqab in public places, which has had absolutely catastrophic consequences. The state should not force women and girls into making a choice between following their religious beliefs or going to school; equal access to education is a fundamental right of every human being, regardless of religion, and schools should make reasonable accommodations to ensure as far as possible that people of all faiths are able to attend school. That includes letting them wear religious symbols if they want to.

  35. says

    Point is, no social system in Western culture forces women to wears stupid and impractical clothes. Women can choose to wear exactly what they want.

    Social pressure is a form of coercion. Women are often strongly pressured by society into dressing in certain ways, and, given the deeply-entrenched sexism and double standards in Western society, women are typically judged much more harshly on their appearance and their conformity to accepted dress codes than are men. I didn’t think this was hard to understand.

  36. says

    Walton, what you’re overlooking (or at least not mentioning) is that many of the girls in question are forced to wear the hijab when they don’t want to. The ban gives them a space to be free of it.

  37. Dave says

    Coo lumme, 150 years of anthropological and sociological study of the transmission and internalisation of social norms, and people still think it’s a straight split between absolute individualised freedom-to-choose and strong-armed coercion.

    Anyone in this debate got anything approaching a subtle conception of human social interaction? ‘Cos if not, just pipe down, you’re making yourselves look stupid.

  38. says

    Walton, what you’re overlooking (or at least not mentioning) is that many of the girls in question are forced to wear the hijab when they don’t want to. The ban gives them a space to be free of it.

    This is often asserted – and it’s undoubtedly true that some are in that situation – but there are no reliable statistics on what proportion of Muslim girls and women are forced to wear it, versus what proportion choose to wear it. Among those who are forced to wear it, there’s also no way of telling what proportion have been “given a space to be free of it”, versus what proportion have been forced to drop out of school because of the ban. If you have any evidence – either statistical or anecdotal – to support your claims, then I’d like to hear it. Even specific examples would be helpful.

    We know that the ban has had very serious negative consequences – denial of the fundamental right to an education – for some individual Muslim girls and women. Expelling someone from school, without good grounds, is a denial of a basic social right that everyone should enjoy. To justify an extreme measure like throwing children out of school and denying them an education in order to enforce this ban, you’d need some pretty compelling evidence that it’s actually doing some good.

    We know that the ban on the full-face veil in public places has had appalling consequences – both for those women who choose to wear the veil, and for those who are forced into it (who are effectively confined to their homes by the ban). The ban on religious clothing in schools is a less extreme measure, but we do know that it has led to some Muslim women and girls being expelled from school. That’s a serious negative consequence, and a further victimization of an already-marginalized population. (And bear in mind also that the ban, although designed to target Muslim women, also potentially victimizes members of other religious minorities, such as Sikhs.)

    Secularism should not mean driving religion forcibly out of the public square, and punishing people for manifesting their religion. Rather, it should mean simply that the state should be completely neutral between different religions, and between religion and non-religion, and should neither support nor oppose any religion. And in a free society, people should be free to dress how they want and to manifest their religious beliefs as they choose, provided that they don’t violate the rights of others in doing so. The French bans on religious clothing amount to forcing an official state-approved ideology on the unwilling – an ideology mandated by an overwhelmingly white legislature, without, so far as I can tell, any effort to listen to the actual opinions of Muslim women.

  39. Lyanna says

    Uh, Ian? Playboy models are also very skinny. Your link is to plus-sized Playboy models–a niche market, a fetish. Ordinary Playboy has anorexics with big boobs.

  40. Lyanna says

    To justify an extreme measure like throwing children out of school and denying them an education in order to enforce this ban, you’d need some pretty compelling evidence that it’s actually doing some good.

    Yeah, I think that sums it up.

    Don’t get me wrong, I hold no brief for the burqa or niqab. Even the much less offensive hijab is based on the notion that it’s women’s responsibility to hide their bodies from men or else it’s the women’s fault if they are raped, which is a repulsive ideology. But the burqa and the niqab are particularly extreme statements in favor of that nonsense. Whenever I see a woman in a burqa or niqab, I feel like I’m being called a whore who is just asking for male abuse and harassment. I can’t imagine what it’s like for women who are forced to wear it.

    But for a categorical ban, I think there needs to be a greater justification then “this is horrifically nasty and sexist and some women are forced into it.” Maybe if there were compelling evidence that most burqa-wearers were forced.

    As it is, I think it shouldn’t be banned but neither should it be specially accommodated. For example: no special single-sex swim time purely for the benefit of Muslim women (there may be other reasons for it). It shouldn’t be coddled.

  41. says

    The voices of Muslim feminists are being marginalized and ignored.

    (In saying this, I certainly don’t mean to attack or dismiss feminist criticisms of Islam itself, nor indeed feminist criticisms of the hijab or the burqa. Rather, my point is just that if we’re debating the imposition of a coercive law in order ostensibly to “liberate” Muslim women, we ought actually to listen to the voices of Muslim women activists and act in accordance with what they want and need, rather than assuming that we know better than they do.)

  42. says

    Dave:

    150 years of anthropological and sociological study of the transmission and internalisation of social norms, and people still think it’s a straight split between absolute individualised freedom-to-choose and strong-armed coercion.

    Well, you know, they’re menz, they haven’t dealt with anywhere near the same level of social pressure, so obviously nobody else has.

    Also, you know, sociology and psychology are “pseudosciences.” That’s what I hear from a lot of dudebros in STEM. The same ones who are into evolutionary psychology and “free-market” economics, which are totally valid because SHUT UP, that’s why.

    Lyanna, Walton, Sean: Thank you.

  43. Godless Heathen says

    @Walton,

    Rather, my point is just that if we’re debating the imposition of a coercive law in order ostensibly to “liberate” Muslim women, we ought actually to listen to the voices of Muslim women activists and act in accordance with what they want and need, rather than assuming that we know better than they do.

    Thank you for this. I’ve been trying to put my finger on what bothers me about all the Americans opining on Islam and it’s misogyny and the way that it tends to be criticized here. I think this is it. We (Americans (esp. atheists) criticizing Islam) are talking about this issue with little perspective from the women these issues actually affect.

  44. says

    Okay: if they were to pass a law in this country (not US by the way) then I would take to wearing it myself. I would encourage everyone to wear it. They can’t arrest all of us.

  45. says

    @dirigible

    “Point is, no social system in Western culture forces women to wears stupid and impractical clothes.”

    It does however strongly coerce them to.

    What form does that coercion take? And who are those doing that coercion? I think it’s all in your head, you’re trying to make excuses so as to be able to blame someone else.

    Think about what the word “coercion” means. It means “force”.

  46. says

    What form does that coercion take? And who are those doing that coercion? I think it’s all in your head, you’re trying to make excuses so as to be able to blame someone else.

    Think about what the word “coercion” means. It means “force”.

    That’s a very simplistic view. You’re dismissing the existence of social, economic and psychological coercion. Physical coercion by the use or threat of violence is the most direct form of coercion, certainly, but it is not the only form. If I’m unable to get a job and earn a living without conforming to particular social expectations as to dress and appearance, say, then it is meaningful to say that I am economically coerced into conforming to those expectations. If I’m emotionally manipulated to feel guilt, shame and inadequacy unless I conform to particular social expectations, then it is meaningful to say that I am psychologically coerced into conforming to those expectations. Neither of these is a misuse of the term “coercion”, as commonly employed. If you don’t think that the word should be employed in this way, then feel free to explain why; but your definition isn’t the only definition.

    You’re using the narrow definition of “coercion” that has been employed by some libertarian theorists, and I’d say it’s the weakest point in classical libertarian theory. It’s a simplistic view of how human societies operate.

  47. says

    Point taken, to a certain extent. But in the Western world (or at least, the country in which I live), one still has the option of opting out.

    All these cross-purpose arguments. Enough.

  48. says

    Lyanna @ #57:

    You provide no link or support for your statement “Playboy models are also very skinny.”

    I confess to major personal ignorance concerning dolly mags and perv papers of all genera. All I did was google ‘playboy’ and that was what turned up. But further, more advanced research I did yesterday at the local newsagent’s revealed that I am right about the top-selling men’s mags.

    I have yet to find the sort of anorexic women favoured and featured by the rag trade’s mags in the lust literature aimed at the mainstream male market. They are just not there.

    I rest my case.

  49. Lyanna says

    Ian, I already provided a link to a men’s soft-core porn magazine–Maxim. Which supports my point, and not yours.
    I’m not linking to more explicit porn here. And I don’t need to: you’ve provided no link that supports your point.

    Indeed, the one link you provided supports MY point. You provided a link to “plus sized” Playboy. “Plus sized” Playboy is a specific niche of Playboy, not ordinary Playboy. There would be no need for a specific “plus sized” Playboy if the default Playboy model was “plus sized.”

  50. says

    Lyanna @ #71,

    Thank you for pointing that out. I had not noticed the difference. I thought ‘girls plus’ meant ‘extra sexy’ or something. As I have said before, this is unfamiliar territory.

    There is, however, no ‘girls minus’ category at Playboy’s website..

    But also, within each womens’ size category there is a sub-category ‘anorexic’, though not recognised by the rag trade as such. As you are also no doubt aware, anorexia is caused by dietary insufficiency and does not merely apply to people who are skeletally light.

    As you would also know, health authorities express concern from time to time about young women who starve themselves in order to look more like fashion models.

    Which brings me back to the original point I was making. Playboy readers don’t appear to lust after those sorts of women, or the Maxim types either.

    Your hypothesis that the whole thing is driven by heterosexual men does not allow any role for the homosexual men most strategically located in the fashion industry.

  51. says

    As you are also no doubt aware, anorexia is caused by dietary insufficiency and does not merely apply to people who are skeletally light.

    That’s like how baldness is caused by follicular insufficiency and does not merely apply to those who are cueball-smooth up-top.

  52. says

    Yessenia:

    “That’s like how baldness is caused by follicular insufficiency and does not merely apply to those who are cueball-smooth up-top.”

    If you would like me to spell out how that statement is ludicrously inappropriate, irrelevant and in the context quite illogical, I suppose I could.

    But not right now. I Have more important things to do..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>