le_bebna_kamni: (Gangster)
I had a strange dream last night. I dreamt I was a woman in a Middle Eastern country, perhaps Iran shortly after the revolution, when they first started making women observe hijab and were trying to enforce separation of the sexes. I remember that, for me (in the dream), hijab was a strange concept. I was in my late teens or early twenties, and I had been one of those women who under the Shah had led a very western life-style, so adjusting to the new rules was difficult for me (as it was for many of my female and male friends).

I dreamt that I was in a large gathering of people of both sexes. There was a rock band performing in an abandoned building (I was friends with the band and had a crush on the lead guitarist), and we were all there illicitly to enjoy the music and party. But there was a raid on the building, and I remember all of us -- all the women, that is -- hurrying to cover ourselves up properly. Those that didn't cover up quickly enough (and those that didn't have valid male chaperones with them) were arrested.

After the raid was over, many women were upset -- and the worst part was, we felt like we couldn't do anything about it. But one of my male friends said that all the men would help us lead a protest. The women would wear proper coverings and be accompanied by male family members as chaperones, so they could have no reason to legally chastise us. And the men would make sure they were the first ones that got arrested, not us. It sounded like a beautiful idea.

It was only when I woke up that the strangeness of the dream occurred to me. Do Men Really Lead Women's Rights Protests? )
le_bebna_kamni: (Samurai)
I think I've refrained from talking about this topic, partly because it's not really my culture, and while there are women who are genuinely oppressed, there are also women who wear the burka because they want to. In fact, on just about any forum where I've seen the burka discussed, you always have at least one poster who says that they (or someone they know) wears the burka because they feel it's liberating.

And up until now, I took that at face value and didn't think anything of it. While I would champion women who want to doff the garment, I also champion those who don it freely -- i.e., it should be, in my opinion, an issue of choice.

But this morning I woke up with my brain going (as it usually is), and I suddenly started realizing just how strange the concept of the burka as a "liberating" garment is. In many ways it mirrors the lesser strangeness caused by modern "grrl power" type movements in Western culture. This "grrl power" feminism is supposed to be a celebration of the "equal but different" aspects of women, but often just reinforces stereotypes without actually addressing the real issues in the culture.

Before I go any further, I have to make a disclaimer: these personal musings don't change my previous statement that I champion women who choose to wear the burka, just as I believe that all people should have agency in their life to believe/choose/do whatever they feel is true (provided it doesn't interfere with the agency of others).

This is merely a commentary on the type of culture that would consider a burka to be "liberating", just as in a roundabout way it is a commentary on my own culture. So without further ado...

Behind the Veil )
le_bebna_kamni: (knight)
I recently had the good fortune to run across the new Jack Chick tract, “Men of Peace?”1. For anyone not familiar with Jack Chick's tracts, you're in for a real treat. He's a fundamentalist Christian who uses interesting “reframings” of facts to get people to convert to Christianity (all his comics end with a prayer that can be prayed right on the spot for a person who wants to accept Jesus Christ). Now, I have no problem with people who want to give testimonials (although I find it a bit crude to leave them toilet stalls), but Jack Chick's cartoons are “special” (in the short bus kind of way)2. I_Shall_Burn_In_Hell )


As a closer to my lengthy rant, I would like to include a little juicy tidbit I picked up in my research:

For all the guys out there who were hoping to get 72 perpetual virgins when they passed into Paradise, I'm sorry to say that this is only a myth. The Quran does not specify the number of virgins, so while it may mean that you get 203, it could also mean you're limited to only 5.

Now, many apologists I have read claimed that the Quran specifies both men and women will be awarded equally with beautiful virgin partners of the opposite sex. Hoewever, Sura 55:56 specifically says “maidens”, and many pre-modern Quranic scholars have agreed. So if women are awarded equally to men, all I can say is...there will be some great lesbian sex in paradise! References )

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