Saturday, February 6, 2010

Politics of Veiling and Revealing

Women’s body is obsession and battle field of any patriarchal society. Women either forced to be veiled and be covered, in this case they are portrayed as source of temptation, or they will be manipulated to reveal their beauty to be deemed desired and emancipated.
Enforcing obligatory veil or banning veil or Hijab is a policy applied by the state to penetrate the private sphere of its citizens. Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan are forcing women to abide by certain dress code, these states consider Hijab part of the Islamic teachings and women must follow it. These states consider itself the enforcer of Allah laws and the individual can not oppose its regulations.

Other states like Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, UK and France ban certain so called religious dress codes, like Niqab or Burqa.
What women want??!! This is the question that invaded my mind, there is no single rights answer, women in the North are not like women in the South and there are many variations of women needs and choices. Another question is why the morality and beauty of women is related to its dress and how much they are covering or revealing.
I have been always critical to the policies of obligatory veil which deem women source of sexual chaos that need to be tamed and covered , these policies also consider men as perverts that perceive women only as sexual objects and they can not control their desires.

I also disagree with the policies of banning certain dress codes like Niqab or Burqa the full body veil. I think it is a personal freedom to reveal or cover your body and I do not accept the argument that this is emancipation of women from the shackles s of outdated traditions.
I still remember my first course of political sciences in Cairo University when Dr Ibrahim Arafaat said that one of the features of totalitarian state is penetrating the private life of its citizens, like the former USSR, ironically I think Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia, France and UK are belonging to this category.

I hope one day women will choose their outfits without thinking of the legal dress code or the social moral judgments.I just can not understand the dogmatic absolutist attitude of the states when they claim that it knows the complete truth and can lead its citizens to the only best way. I hope a day will come when all forms of power like force, manipulation and coercion will not shape women’s life.

1 comment:

pocc_london said...

I dislike the veil. I dislike most of what it stands for and many of the reasons women wear it (how often have you ever seen a man wear a veil?) I do not think it is a requirement of Islam, it is rather a regional, cultural tradition that existed long before Islam.

Many women wear it because they are forced to, of that there is no question - some directly forced by men (and let us not forget, sometimes by women too), others feel forced by tradition, by culture or by an interpretation of religion.

That said, I think it is wrong to ban it. I live in the UK speak can only speak about society here. It is not banned in the UK - though there are small elements here who would like to see it banned, but I do not think the UK will go down that route. We should not forget that there are also many women who choose to wear it. An increasing number of young women are wearing it through their own choice. Many see it as liberating to be able to walk along the street without men learing at them. Some wear it to make a statement of their faith. Some wear it to belong. Show me a hundred veiled women and I can can show you a hundred different reasons why those women are wearing it. Well, maybe 85 reasons. But the point is, women are individuals with individual reasons for what they do and what they wear. I might not agree with 90% of the reasons I hear for women wearing the veil, I might find some of the reasons offensive. But if they are choosing to wear it of their own free will, I can think of no good reason to stop them. The fact that I do not like it is not a good reason. I might not like it, but maybe they don't like the way I dress. That's life.