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Veils and hijab- oppression ?

Cermank
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3/31/2013 10:20:08 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Are veils oppressive or liberating? Conservative or dogmatic? Practical or sheer necessity?

Yemini photographer Boushra Almutawakel's work challenges every stereotype that has deeply polarised the world.
Boushra Almutawakel, one of Yemen's first woman photographers, aims to provoke debates over gender and cultural stereotypes through her work. "As an Arab Yemeni Muslim woman, who also wears the hijab, I had my own observations on the veil. It's a complex, multi-layered subject. It's not as simple as black and white, good or bad. I was tired of hearing and reading about the veil from Westerners. I wanted to speak about this subject in my own way through my photographs," says Almutawakel.
What has made her work stand out is the various ways in which she has expressed her thoughts on the veil. Through her photographs in the 'Hijab' series, Almutawakel explores how women are objectified both by the Arab and the western world to hold on to their respective morals and standards. "I am neither against nor for the hijab. There are certain aspects of the veil I like and others that I don't. I felt I should not censor myself either way. These photos express my diverse thoughts on the subject."

Excerpts from the interview:

You've photographed women dressed in traditional men's clothing in your country. Why?
I was working on the hijab series, which mostly focuses on women. We live in a deeply polarised world. The general western view is that veil is a symbol of oppression. I wanted to look at the topic of Arab clothing from a different point of view. I realised that just as the Arab Islamic women's clothing and veil are conservative, traditional men's clothing were also quite modest compared to the West. They wear long, loose kurtas and a head piece that covers most of the head. My first thought was that even women in Yemen could wear them. I thought to myself, 'why hadn't I noticed it before?' It isn't just women. Culturally speaking, men are also meant to dress modestly. That is how it started out. But a lot of women, after seeing the series, also interpreted it as a commentary of women's strength in our society; and the fact that the photographs blurred the gender boundary, that given the same opportunities, women could be just as strong and capable as men.

Explain your picture of the woman wearing an American flag as hijab...
The veil is only a part of my work, or rather my most recent work. I had not intended to do a series on the veil. It had been done before. But post 9/11, I was very frustrated with the worldwide stereotypical view of all Arabs and Muslims as terrorists. People lashed out at us for a misguided view of a few people. So instead, of a black veil which most Westerners look at with disdain, I made an American woman wear an American flag as hijab. The idea that I wanted to convey was that any set of values " whether American or Arab " can blind people from seeing the other person's point of view. When we cling on to a set of value as being superior or better, we fail to understand the other completely.

Tell us your arguments for and against the veil...
My first argument is that it is about choice, for those who have it. I feel every woman should have the choice of whether or not to wear the veil. In our culture, which is highly segregated, wearing the veil is a kind of armour or protection from the piercing gazes of men. When you wear the niqab, you see everyone while no one knows who you are underneath. It gives you a sense of anonymity. Also, there's less emphasis on one's looks or shape of the body when one wears the veil. As opposed to the Western view, a woman feels less objectified, less self-conscious. She can focus on more important things in life. The West should get over its shallow obsession with the veil and look beyond and beneath it, where there is a living, breathing, thinking woman, and maybe try to know her. They may be surprised.
As for my argument against the veil, practically speaking, you feel hot wearing it. Your hearing is often restricted because the material covers your ears. At times, you can't see properly. And if it's forced upon a woman as a form of protection against men, it's wrong. Women should wear it only if they want to.

What fascinated you about Fulla, the Islamic version of a Barbie doll as a subject?
She looks a lot like Barbie, except she has darker hair, smaller bust and wears permanent underwear! She comes in an outfit and a full headscarf/hijab along with an abaya (a long full-sleeved robe worn with a headscarf or veil). I love Fulla because she is different from Barbie. She represents my culture and religion. I am trying to show the lives of Yemeni women through the life of Fulla. She is educated and has friends. She finds love. She works and travels. She is a mother and so much more.

You draw similarities between wearing niqab and make-up which is also a social mask...
I attended a lecture by Nawal El Saadawi, a prominent Egyptian feminist. One of the many things she said was that women who wore the hijab, niqab were not any different than the women who put on make-up. In the end, they were all concealing their true identities. I found that fascinating and tried to translate it through my lens. Many of us wear make-up, cover our hair or faces because there is some sense of comfort, because we are used to it. If I don't put on some blush, brush my eyebrows, and put gloss on my lips, I too feel uncomfortable. The same way, I feel more secure and comfortable wearing my abaya and scarf when I walk out of my home. It is just what I am used to, and I think that we all find comfort in things we are used to regardless of whether they are good for us or not.
Skepsikyma
Posts: 8,280
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3/31/2013 11:30:26 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
A friend of mine once wrote this, which changed my views on the subject:

"I OFTEN wonder whether people see me as a radical, fundamentalist Muslim terrorist packing an AK-47 assault rifle inside my jean jacket. Or maybe they see me as the poster girl for oppressed womanhood everywhere. I'm not sure which it is.

I get the whole gamut of strange looks, stares, and covert glances. You see, I wear the hijab, a scarf that covers my head, neck, and throat. I do this because I am a Muslim woman who believes her body is her own private concern.

Young Muslim women are reclaiming the hijab, reinterpreting it in light of its original purpose to give back to women ultimate control of their own bodies.

The Qur'an teaches us that men and women are equal, that individuals should not be judged according to gender, beauty, wealth, or privilege. The only thing that makes one person better than another is her or his character.

Nonetheless, people have a difficult time relating to me. After all, I'm young, European born and raised, university educated - why would I do this to myself, they ask.

Strangers speak to me in loud, slow language and often appear to be playing charades. They politely inquire how I like living in Europe and whether or not the cold bothers me. If I'm in the right mood, it can be very amusing.

But, why would I, a woman with all the advantages of a Western upbringing, suddenly, at 25, want to cover myself so that with the hijab and the other clothes I choose to wear, only my face and hands show?

Because it gives me freedom.

WOMEN are taught from early childhood that their worth is proportional to their attractiveness. We feel compelled to pursue abstract notions of beauty, half realizing that such a pursuit is futile.

When women reject this form of oppression, they face ridicule and contempt. Whether it's women who refuse to wear makeup or to shave their legs, or to expose their bodies, society, both men and women, have trouble dealing with them.

In the Western world, the hijab has come to symbolize either forced silence or radical, unconscionable militancy. Actually, it's neither. It is simply a woman's assertion that judgment of her physical person is to play no role whatsoever in social interaction.

Wearing the hijab has given me freedom from constant attention to my physical self. Because my appearance is not subjected to public scrutiny, my beauty, or perhaps lack of it, has been removed from the realm of what can legitimately be discussed.

No one knows whether my hair looks as if I just stepped out of a salon, whether or not I can pinch an inch, or even if I have unsightly stretch marks. And because no one knows, no one cares.

Feeling that one has to meet the impossible male standards of beauty is tiring and often humiliating. I should know, I spent my entire teenage years trying to do it. I was a borderline bulimic and spent a lot of money I didn't have on potions and lotions in hopes of becoming the next Cindy Crawford.

The definition of beauty is ever-changing; waifish is good, waifish is bad, athletic is good -- sorry, athletic is bad. Narrow hips? Great. Narrow hips? Too bad.

Women are not going to achieve equality with the right to bear their breasts in public, as some people would like to have you believe. That would only make us party to our own objectification. True equality will be had only when women don't need to display themselves to get attention and won't need to defend their decision to keep their bodies to themselves."
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
Eitan_Zohar
Posts: 2,697
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3/31/2013 2:54:37 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I don't actually understand the objections to it. Different cultures have different standards and norms. It's no different on a fundamental level to ban Muslim women from showing their hair in public than to ban Western women from showing their vaginas in public.

I think the current backlash against it is just another product of ethnocentrism. We Westerners like to think we're immune to things like "culture" or "barbarism" but that's what ethnocentrism is- viewing your own culture as the completely normal and moderate one and judging other cultures solely your own values and standards. We haven't actually changed much in that regard since the Stone Age.
"It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book."
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
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3/31/2013 2:59:07 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
The veils themselves are not oppressive in my opinion, it's the reason that the veils are worn in the fist place that irks me. The purported reason for the necessity of the veil is utterly hypocritical: to avoid judgement, women wear veils, and if they don't, they are judged for not doing so. Women must conform to this if they wish to be accepted, and this is no different than what they're trying to distance themselves from.
Eitan_Zohar
Posts: 2,697
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3/31/2013 3:02:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/31/2013 2:59:07 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
The veils themselves are not oppressive in my opinion, it's the reason that the veils are worn in the fist place that irks me. The purported reason for the necessity of the veil is utterly hypocritical: to avoid judgement, women wear veils, and if they don't, they are judged for not doing so. Women must conform to this if they wish to be accepted, and this is no different than what they're trying to distance themselves from.

That's what culture is.
"It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book."
muzebreak
Posts: 2,781
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3/31/2013 3:44:25 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
My issue with hijabs, is that some do not choose to wear it. Some are forced to, with the punishment of not doing so, often being physical abuse.
"Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact." - Carl Sagan

This is the response of the defenders of Sparta to the Commander of the Roman Army: "If you are a god, you will not hurt those who have never injured you. If you are a man, advance - you will find men equal to yourself. And women.
Eitan_Zohar
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3/31/2013 9:46:03 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/31/2013 3:44:25 PM, muzebreak wrote:
My issue with hijabs, is that some do not choose to wear it. Some are forced to, with the punishment of not doing so, often being physical abuse.

And some women probably don't want to wear clothes, with the punishment being imprisonment or fines. How cruel!
"It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book."
APB
Posts: 267
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3/31/2013 10:58:59 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
If a woman wants to wear a veil, nobody should stop her. If she doesn't, nobody should make her. Does it need to be more complicated?
muzebreak
Posts: 2,781
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4/1/2013 7:51:52 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/31/2013 9:46:03 PM, Eitan_Zohar wrote:
At 3/31/2013 3:44:25 PM, muzebreak wrote:
My issue with hijabs, is that some do not choose to wear it. Some are forced to, with the punishment of not doing so, often being physical abuse.

And some women probably don't want to wear clothes, with the punishment being imprisonment or fines. How cruel!

I agree. It is absurd that we would force people to wear clothes, and why; to hide something that everybody knows is there? Its ridiculous.
"Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact." - Carl Sagan

This is the response of the defenders of Sparta to the Commander of the Roman Army: "If you are a god, you will not hurt those who have never injured you. If you are a man, advance - you will find men equal to yourself. And women.
muzebreak
Posts: 2,781
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4/1/2013 8:00:24 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/31/2013 9:46:03 PM, Eitan_Zohar wrote:
At 3/31/2013 3:44:25 PM, muzebreak wrote:
My issue with hijabs, is that some do not choose to wear it. Some are forced to, with the punishment of not doing so, often being physical abuse.

And some women probably don't want to wear clothes, with the punishment being imprisonment or fines. How cruel!

But to be more to the point, this is a failure at an attempt of a reductio ad absurdum. We all know why those laws exist, regardless of whether someone disagrees with them or not. My point is the physical abuse. And even still, with clothes, there are plenty of open areas where you can go without those, like nudist beaches and such. There is no laws against not wearing veils in the majority of countries. Yet, if a woman in one those countries, who is in a strict muslim family, chooses not to wear it, they could be physically and mentally abused for it. This is beyond cruel, it is inhumane. Albeit this is not always the case, maybe not even often. I don't know enough to make such a claim. What I do know, is that it happens, and thats enough for me.
"Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact." - Carl Sagan

This is the response of the defenders of Sparta to the Commander of the Roman Army: "If you are a god, you will not hurt those who have never injured you. If you are a man, advance - you will find men equal to yourself. And women.
muzebreak
Posts: 2,781
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4/1/2013 8:01:11 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/31/2013 10:58:59 PM, APB wrote:
If a woman wants to wear a veil, nobody should stop her. If she doesn't, nobody should make her. Does it need to be more complicated?

It doesn't. But we aren't that lucky.
"Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact." - Carl Sagan

This is the response of the defenders of Sparta to the Commander of the Roman Army: "If you are a god, you will not hurt those who have never injured you. If you are a man, advance - you will find men equal to yourself. And women.
OberHerr
Posts: 13,062
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4/1/2013 8:09:06 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/31/2013 10:58:59 PM, APB wrote:
If a woman wants to wear a veil, nobody should stop her. If she doesn't, nobody should make her. Does it need to be more complicated?

This.
-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-OBERHERR'S SIGNATURE-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

Official Enforcer for the DDO Elite(if they existed).

"Cases are anti-town." - FourTrouble

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
Eitan_Zohar
Posts: 2,697
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4/1/2013 8:54:13 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/31/2013 10:58:59 PM, APB wrote:
If a woman wants to wear a veil, nobody should stop her. If she doesn't, nobody should make her. Does it need to be more complicated?

Why yes, I'd like a more substantive argument; that is, if you'll deign to make your divine wisdom clearer to us mortals.
"It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book."
APB
Posts: 267
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4/1/2013 6:24:08 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/1/2013 8:54:13 AM, Eitan_Zohar wrote:
At 3/31/2013 10:58:59 PM, APB wrote:
If a woman wants to wear a veil, nobody should stop her. If she doesn't, nobody should make her. Does it need to be more complicated?

Why yes, I'd like a more substantive argument; that is, if you'll deign to make your divine wisdom clearer to us mortals.

In the Western world, we're supposed to be free to dictate our own fashion choices (as long as they don't display genitalia, etc, to the public), so it's hypocritical to forbid Muslims from covering their hair and faces.

In the Middle-East, they have different values that you should respect when you're there, just as you wouldn't tell Holocaust jokes in Germany.

While it's not unreasonable that you be EXPECTED to dress a certain way, using violence to enforce that expectation is unreasonable.
muzebreak
Posts: 2,781
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4/2/2013 2:15:47 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/1/2013 6:24:08 PM, APB wrote:
At 4/1/2013 8:54:13 AM, Eitan_Zohar wrote:
At 3/31/2013 10:58:59 PM, APB wrote:
If a woman wants to wear a veil, nobody should stop her. If she doesn't, nobody should make her. Does it need to be more complicated?

Why yes, I'd like a more substantive argument; that is, if you'll deign to make your divine wisdom clearer to us mortals.

In the Western world, we're supposed to be free to dictate our own fashion choices (as long as they don't display genitalia, etc, to the public), so it's hypocritical to forbid Muslims from covering their hair and faces.

In the Middle-East, they have different values that you should respect when you're there, just as you wouldn't tell Holocaust jokes in Germany.

While it's not unreasonable that you be EXPECTED to dress a certain way, using violence to enforce that expectation is unreasonable.

I believe it is unreasonable.
"Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact." - Carl Sagan

This is the response of the defenders of Sparta to the Commander of the Roman Army: "If you are a god, you will not hurt those who have never injured you. If you are a man, advance - you will find men equal to yourself. And women.
APB
Posts: 267
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4/2/2013 8:00:03 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/2/2013 2:15:47 AM, muzebreak wrote:
At 4/1/2013 6:24:08 PM, APB wrote:
At 4/1/2013 8:54:13 AM, Eitan_Zohar wrote:
At 3/31/2013 10:58:59 PM, APB wrote:
If a woman wants to wear a veil, nobody should stop her. If she doesn't, nobody should make her. Does it need to be more complicated?

Why yes, I'd like a more substantive argument; that is, if you'll deign to make your divine wisdom clearer to us mortals.

In the Western world, we're supposed to be free to dictate our own fashion choices (as long as they don't display genitalia, etc, to the public), so it's hypocritical to forbid Muslims from covering their hair and faces.

In the Middle-East, they have different values that you should respect when you're there, just as you wouldn't tell Holocaust jokes in Germany.

While it's not unreasonable that you be EXPECTED to dress a certain way, using violence to enforce that expectation is unreasonable.

I believe it is unreasonable.

If you consider it unreasonable, that's fine. Personally, I don't. We'll agree to disagree.
Oryus
Posts: 8,280
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4/2/2013 8:03:42 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/1/2013 8:09:06 AM, OberHerr wrote:
At 3/31/2013 10:58:59 PM, APB wrote:
If a woman wants to wear a veil, nobody should stop her. If she doesn't, nobody should make her. Does it need to be more complicated?

This.
: : :Tulle: The fool, I purposely don't engage with you because you don't have proper command of the English language.
: :
: : The Fool: It's my English writing. Either way It's okay have a larger vocabulary then you, and a better grasp of language, and you're a woman.
:
: I'm just going to leave this precious struggle nugget right here.
Oryus
Posts: 8,280
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4/2/2013 8:06:10 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I can completely understand the desire to wear a veil in order to be more free from judgment. Totally.

In fact, I have a "veil" of my own. I have big hats. Sometimes I wear oversized hoodie sweatshirts and big corduroy pants and boots. So in a way, I've got my own "veil" that I put on if I don't feel like being looked at and judged for my body. I just don't wear it everyday. Sometimes I like to show off. Sometimes I like to blend in. It depends on my mood.
: : :Tulle: The fool, I purposely don't engage with you because you don't have proper command of the English language.
: :
: : The Fool: It's my English writing. Either way It's okay have a larger vocabulary then you, and a better grasp of language, and you're a woman.
:
: I'm just going to leave this precious struggle nugget right here.
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Posts: 18,324
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4/3/2013 10:55:53 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
The problem I have with the article is that it supports wearing a veil to regain "control" of one's body - or maybe I confused it with one of the other posts. Control isn't something that ought to be protected by wearing a veil, rather it is to be taken for granted. I don't like the idea of "men will stare at you if you don't wear a veil but whether or not you wear a veil is entirely up to you." The flaw in this argument is that women deserve to not be stared at even without wearing a veil.
Mirza
Posts: 16,992
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4/4/2013 4:35:47 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/31/2013 2:59:07 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
The veils themselves are not oppressive in my opinion, it's the reason that the veils are worn in the fist place that irks me. The purported reason for the necessity of the veil is utterly hypocritical: to avoid judgement, women wear veils, and if they don't, they are judged for not doing so. Women must conform to this if they wish to be accepted, and this is no different than what they're trying to distance themselves from.
Their personal reasons for wearing veils are NOT affected by how other people will judge them in the end. The hypocrisy here does not exist. You're talking wish-wash.

Veils also happen to be symbolic. A woman who is fully covered often wants to show that she does not wish to draw sexual attention to herself, or exchange pleasantries with the opposite sex. This is a good symbol.
makhdoom5
Posts: 202
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4/4/2013 7:06:22 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
simple is that.
this world is test place.
ALLAH created beauty, he wanted to test us. my cousin said once. (beauty is not big thing no body get it by its own but GOD gifted real thing is how to preserve it) this is the task of human. the veil is almost same as same for women for men. if you see the Arabic do use the white big shirt and that scarf on head. same as women do( i think only color diff. man white and women black.
ALLAH created sex he wanted to test us.
ALLAH created wine he wanted to test us.
ALLAH created wealth he wanted to test us.
ALLAH created health he wanted to test us.
ALLAH created man and woman he wanted to test us.
ALLAH created whole world he wanted to test.

if you fulfill all duties you owe in this world and fulfill all his laws than you have passed test.
actually women do not need to wear veil.
i call its a kind and just act from them for us to feel comfortable.
i thank to ALL those sister who wear veil.
it help us so much in passing test.
also i think it might be providing them protection from corrupt minds.
this is scientific fact that man and women get sex desire and intention easily when they see the body of each other.
i dont think any one will be agreed it is good that every one on street has bad intention or sex intention for any women passing by.
i think every body wants and like to be faithfull.
but how that could be as if she see the half naked women even he wanted to not get bad emotion he cant stop that.
well this topic is so big.
and i am human.
if some says makhdoom is saying wrong. than he he mad.
as i am also man.
i can know what it all means.