Sunday, December 28, 2008

Veiled Contempt - Introduction ( aka The "Why I Opened This Can o' Worms" Edition)

I seriously doubt that this is a concept that has not been spoken of before, but I have never talked about it here, so it is new in one way at least.


When Islam and women in Islam are discussed in Western classrooms, or at dinner tables, or even in foreign policy discussions, what are the first things that are mentioned?

Usually, its one of two things: Hijab(often mistakenly called Burqa and generally falsely conflated with Saudi or Iranian forced dress codes) and "honor" killings. Both are pointed out as examples of exotic otherness and supposed Muslim/Arab (another false conflation, but I digress) savagery in comparison with supposed Western "liberal" attitudes towards women, gender "equality" and moral superiority. "Well, WE don't treat OUR women like THAT." Generally, much nodding of heads back patting and ego fellating ensues.

This attitude amuses me (and by "amuses me," I mean it makes me want to repeatedly bash my head into a wall) because of one underlying flaw in the rush to promote ourselves as superior whiteness/Westerness, namely that Western women are treated very similarly, the only difference being the exact way that sexism is expressed. The underlying attitudes, about a woman's place, her function, what she should look like, her responsibility for participating in the public sphere, and her punishment for violating the patriarchal demands placed upon her, are almost exactly the same and differ mainly in degree of severity. The only other major difference is the form of support that our judicial systems grant these actions. Again, the rationalizations are eerily similar, and the only difference in support is whether it is tacit, or open. Even in the law, the only differences become a matter of degree.

So, I decided that I had too much to say (no surprise there) about all of these subjects, so I would start a series. At this moment, its only this introductory post and two subsequent posts, but I'm flexible. I will be drawing from a variety of sources, including blogs like Muslimah Media Watch, news sites, feminist theory, and my own observations in both the Middle East and the US. My intention is to make clear that when it comes to sexism and treatment of women, no one has the moral high ground. This can end up opening into an on going series if the information is available.

So, be on the lookout for my first post, probably sometime next week.



  1. Dalal N7:49 PM

    I've just come across your blog and am VERY interested in seeing this. Thanks for writing it, and I'll sure be back!

  2. Awesome! Thanks for stopping by Dalal!

  3. Lyndsay10:41 PM

    Yes, just the other day at my grand-parents' the Middle East came up and my grand-pa mentioned the hijab first. Of course he jumps to stereotypes and simplifications for any group so I wasn't surprised.