Morris dancers drinking ale and wearing hijabs


Now there’s a stupid idea.

Pints of hearty ale flow freely as morris dancers frolic in the spring sunshine and gentlewomen recline under a weeping willow… dressed in traditional Muslim headscarfs.

OK, that last part may seem out of place with the hackneyed picture of merry England that is peddled to tourists.

But it is time for the hijab to be embraced as an integral part of national life, according to religious leaders.

‘We want to promote a new, relaxed and confident English national identity,’ they said in a St George’s Day appeal for unity.

Relaxed? They want to promote a new, relaxed English identity by embracing the hijab? What’s the hijab got to do with relaxed?

The hijab isn’t about relaxed. It’s about religious “duty” and “obligation”; it’s about being “a good Muslim”; it’s about obeying a demanding god; it’s about fretting about “modesty” and “temptation” and not being a “whore” or a blot on the family’s “honor.” It’s nothing to do with “relaxed.”

And it’s not something to embrace, either. It’s not nice or benign or cuddly. It’s not like beautiful embroidery or colorful stripes; it’s not like spicy food or haunting music. It’s about treating women as both sluttish and dangerous, and about punishing them for life as a result. It’s about muffling their heads and necks no matter what kind of climate they live in. It’s about paying attention to rules from 14 centuries ago. It’s not a good thing. Yes, women who wear it should be treated like everyone else; no, no one should hassle them for wearing it; but that doesn’t mean it should be actively embraced, nor should it be treated as anything to do with any kind of new, relaxed, confident identity.

Comments

  1. blorf says

    It would be great fun to watch, but we would have to find a way to use this to discredit the outfit and/or religious leaders.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    When do we get to see Morris dancers in (under?) full burqas?

    That would be more like “being awesome”!

  3. Sue says

    1 Use its culture as a means to glom a religion into indigenous festivals? Well who’d have thought of that one? Wait….
    2 Does it matter that this particular folkway is very strongly linked with drinking good earthy ale and lots of very very sexy fertility rites? ( I concede, some of the erotica may have been lost over time ;-)) Mmmm maybe not the relaxed mix their after?
    3 I live on the beach in southern Spain. 22 degrees today. Very nice. Very relaxed culture – well for the guy sitting on the sand with his shirt off taking in the spring sunshine maybe. Not so much for the lady in the full tunic trousers and headscarf at his side. Relaxed cultural fit ? What other culture would allow such Vile,Blatant & Unfair treatment. ?

  4. says

    3 I live on the beach in southern Spain. 22 degrees today. Very nice. Very relaxed culture – well for the guy sitting on the sand with his shirt off taking in the spring sunshine maybe. Not so much for the lady in the full tunic trousers and headscarf at his side. Relaxed cultural fit ? What other culture would allow such Vile,Blatant & Unfair treatment. ?

    Probably the one in which he may sit with his shirt off but where if she does the same thing she might be arrested.
    Please, people, stop acting like this was just a problem of people over there.

  5. Cassanders says

    A quite blatant example of “newspeak” (the dialougesque variety)..
    …Submission is freedom ….

    I love OB’s very accurate summary: The hijab isn’t about relaxed. It’s about religious “duty” and “obligation”; it’s about being “a good Muslim”; it’s about obeying a demanding god; it’s about fretting about “modesty” and “temptation” and not being a “whore” or a blot on the family’s “honor.” It’s nothing to do with “relaxed.”

    Cassanders
    Way down deep I’m really shallow
    (S.Gorn)

  6. says

    There is an older English identity of being stiff, formal and over-dressed, with the women being stand-offish and prudish. The hijab fits in with that okay.

    Ale, country walks and pubs, gardening – very fine aspects of English culture. Morris dancing – errgh.

    I really enjoyed the London Olympics opening ceremony, especially because there was no Morris dancing. Then in the closing ceremony I howled and covered my eyes because there they were, hitting sticks and looking like dicks.

  7. Jobrag says

    One of the possible origins of Morris dancing is Moorish dancing so perhaps a hijab isn’t so far from the mark. When you can drink a pint of bitter in a beer garden in Mecca then true toleration will have arrived.

  8. =8)-DX says

    If the women are allowed to dance and frolic in those hijabs, instead of just “gentlewomanly” reclining it might be a good object lesson of how Islam and the west are only compatible when you relax the strictures of Islam.

    Even better would be the muslim women donning morris dancing costume, drinking ale and frolicing, while demure crossdressing englishmen recline in hijab!

    Or wait, lets add in some gay and lesbian couples in suits (or double dresses), dancing ballroom in the background! Oh and the queen in a tracksuit, several nudist pot smokers, a pagan goat-roast and hindu golfers!

    This “new, relaxed and confident English national identity” sounds better and better the further one goes!

  9. agenoria says

    On Sunday we went to Brighton to meet up with members of my family. We were completely unaware that a group called “March for England” were holding a demonstration that day. They claim they have nothing to do with the English Defence League, but the same people have been involved with both. March for England say they want St George’s Day to be a national holiday.

    Of course there was a counter demonstration, against racism, and people in both groups spoiling for a fight, though it did pass off fairly peacefully – in the end. But we didn’t know that would happen, it could have turned nasty. There were about 500 police from around southern England around Brighton Pier. We found ourselves on one side of a police cordon and the family we came to meet on the other side.

    I got very distressed, having travelled 150 miles, I rarely see my family and it looked like these idiots were going to stop us meeting. Eventually the demonstrators moved, and we did meet up. But it was very frightening. At the moment I want nothing to do with St George’s Day.

    On a previous occasion, when we visited Brighton, there were Morris dancers all over the place. Give me Morris dancers any day over right-wing nationalists.

    Where I live, in Leicester, I see far too many women with only their eyes visible. I’ve gone past a Muslim primary school and all the girls were wearing white headscarves in the playground. Of course the boys weren’t. When I see them I think of all the women in the UK who fought for women’s rights – so I could get a degree, vote etc. It’s such a step backwards. And not what I would think of as English.

  10. stevebowen says

    I once told one of my daughters that I would support her in any lifestyle or gender role she was confortable with. But, if she took up Morris Dancing I would disown her.

  11. Brian E says

    It’s about treating women as both sluttish and dangerous, and about punishing them for life as a result

    I quoted that simply for distilling all the bullshit about modesty and piousness that is expected from women in one laser fine piece of concision. I doff my non-existent hat to you Ophelia. It would have taken me paragraphs of waffling to get that out. And what it says about women, and men, if truly fucked up. Women are dangerous, because men can’t control their urges. Women are slutish, because they’re just asking for men with labile urge control to rape them for not wearing the correct dress. We tolerate the hijab, because we tolerate religion and bad ideas. It’s better than having ‘correct’ ideas and dress dictated. But that doesn’t mean it’s some bucolic bit of apparel.

  12. Brian E says

    Probably the one in which he may sit with his shirt off but where if she does the same thing she might be arrested.
    Please, people, stop acting like this was just a problem of people over there.

    Um, not in the Spain I know. My then girlfriend never had a top on at the beach, nor did lots of other locals. But that was a decade ago, when things were on the up. Perhaps now that the economy is stuffed, modesty is back?

  13. A Hermit says

    lets add in some gay and lesbian couples in suits (or double dresses), dancing ballroom in the background! Oh and the queen in a tracksuit, several nudist pot smokers, a pagan goat-roast and hindu golfers!

    Now THAT’S a party I’d go to.

    On a more serious note I think Maryam Namzie’s recent post about Sharia in England puts this idea in perspective…

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/2013/04/24/sharia-panorama/

    This week’s BBC Panorama programme “Secrets of Britain’s Sharia Councils” confirms why One Law for All has been campaigning against the discriminatory parallel legal system running counter to British law for nearly five years.

    As has been repeatedly stated, including in “Sharia Courts in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights”, women are being held to ransom, told to remain in violent situations, blamed for the violence they face, refused divorces over many years, and placed under undue pressure including with regards child access and welfare.

    The programme confirms this. The undercover reporter is told not to contact police when she asks a senior cleric Suhaib Hasan (who has advocated stoning and amputation) whether she should report the violence she has suffered at the hands of her husband. Mr Hasan also wrongly tells her that if she were to report the violence to the police, she “will have to leave the house”. This is entirely untrue. In fact, an abused spouse may apply to the Court for an Occupation Order, which can remove a violent spouse from the home – or a defined area surrounding the home – and can impose criminal sanctions if the order is not obeyed. Mr Hasan’s advice is misleading and deliberately aimed at frightening women in to adhering to the Sharia Council’s authority. Hasan also repeats the Sharia position that a man has the right to hit his wife provided he leaves no marks. He asks if her husband beats her “severely”. When she questioned what was meant by “severely”, Hasan asks “it leaves some bruises on your body?”.

    Mr Hasan goes on to advise the undercover reporter to question herself as to what she had done to provoke this violence. He suggests she ask her husband “is it because of my cooking?”, “is it because I see my friends?”.

    I’m not sure how one gets to a state of “relaxed and confident” in that kind of context…

  14. says

    A scarf wrapped about one’s head and neck can be quite comfortable and appealing. I don’t mind it all by itself, especially in spring or fall weather. But in conjunction with all the moralizing about women’s modesty and sexual behavior? And how to separate from all the religious nonsense? Sigh.

  15. freemage says

    You know, a Google Image Search for “Morris Dancers” turns up mostly a bunch of slightly overweight, likely inebriated white guys dancing their jigs. So now, I’m suddenly picturing them wearing hijabs. Fairly certain that’s not the effect the proposal is going for, but I’d watch it.

  16. says

    Sally, would you mind it all by itself if you had to (felt obliged to) wear it all the time (outside your own living space) no matter what?

    I would, for one. I hate having things on my head. I wear a hoody when it rains and I keep pushing the hood off for a rest and then pulling it on when the rain gets too much. I would certainly hate having to have a tight bandage around my face and neck at all times. It’s not a scarf wrapped, it’s tight, and binding.

  17. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Inebriated bearded middle-aged men waving sticks or swords swords and wearing bells and hijabs while dancing would probably damage the image of the hijab more effectively than any criticism ever would.

  18. says

    Sally, would you mind it all by itself if you had to (felt obliged to) wear it all the time (outside your own living space) no matter what?

    Of course I would, and that’s what I meant when I said, “all by itself.” All by itself, that is, apart from the social and religious symbolism attached to it.

    I would, for one. I hate having things on my head. I wear a hoody when it rains and I keep pushing the hood off for a rest and then pulling it on when the rain gets too much. I would certainly hate having to have a tight bandage around my face and neck at all times. It’s not a scarf wrapped, it’s tight, and binding.

    I took to wearing hijab-like scarves when I was traveling in India, initially to cut down on street harassment, and found I liked it. Comfy, warm at night, and a nice shield from the sun during the day. But then I probably never wore it wrapped as tightly as a genuine hijab.

  19. Margaret says

    I would think women relaxing in nothing but headscarves would go reasonably well with the nudist pot smokers and pagan goat-roast. And all of those would distract nicely from the Morris dancers.

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