- ISLAMIC FEMINISM - MOHAMED - QUR'AN - ISLAM - BURQA - CHADOR - VEIL - ISLAMIC WOMEN - MODERNIZATION/FREEDOM
- MASS MEDIA - FAITH -
the veil reveals*
|From the Western perspective, modernization (and
Westernization) tends to be confused with freedom. As a result,
it is assumed that a woman living in an Islamic country who adopts
styles of Western dress is thus more 'emancipated' than a woman
who wears traditional clothes. But, as many women activists from
the Islamic world point out, quite the opposite is true
The governments of the West systematically
talk about the subjugation of women under Islam.
In the Western
geopolitics wears the dress of haute couture and women covered
by veils or burqas are cast as the symbol of tyranny and
of Islam in general.
When the Pentagon
speaks, for example, about overthrowing some government in the
the words are juxtaposed with the images of women with their
heads covered - implying that, with bombs, freedom will arrive
for the women and by extension,
for the entire population.
the Western perspective, modernization (and Westernization) tends to be confused with
freedom. As a result, it is assumed that a woman living in an
Islamic country who adopts styles of Western dress is thus more
emancipated than a woman who wears traditional clothes.
But, as many women activists from the Islamic world point out,
quite the opposite is true.
example, a woman working in a Palestinian factory and who wears
traditional clothing, including a head cover, may also be a political
activist in the underground movement. Meanwhile, an Egyptian
woman who wears fashions by an Italian designer may live in absolute
submission to her husband, without a say in any sphere of her
life. In that sense, it would seem that the veils shown so frequently
may in some cases be stating the opposite of what appears to
be the case.
Some women from Islamic countries and women converts to the faith who are born
in the West insist that using/wearing the veil -which implies
submission to the will of Allah that women be modest-
is truly an act of liberation. These women say the veil protects
them from men's stares and harassment. Most of all, however,
they are obeying the Qu'ran, because by covering their body they
accentuate the individuality and wholeness of woman, which is
otherwise overshadowed by the emphasis society places on appearance.
also insist that the role of the veil varies depending on the
time and the place. Women activists in Saudi Arabia, for example,
have resurrected the use of a special type of veil. Iranian women
used the veil as a form of protest against the regime of the
Shah, who was overthrown by the Islamic revolution of
1979. Within the Muslim world, women's dress can be a symbol
of unity, but outside this world, it can mean just the opposite.
The chador, the head covering worn by Muslim women in
the West, can make them the target of discrimination -even those
who are of Western descent.
The point is that outsiders should not seize on one aspect of
other people's cultures and make judgments about what they see
without understanding the full picture. But by the same token,
no-one can sit back and assume that the struggle for women's
true equality has been won, whether that woman wears a veil or
not and whether that is her choice or not. The oppression of
women whatever their color or creed is still a major factor holding
back many countries from achieving their full potential.
in The World Guide