New Age Islam
Sat Jun 03 2023, 09:05 PM

Islam, Women and Feminism ( 1 Sept 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

With Supreme Court Taking up Plea, Will Indian Muslim Women’s Demand Be Fulfilled?

New Age Islam News Bureau

1 Sept 2016

Mariam, 23, on How It Feels to Be Constantly Spoken For


 The ‘Burkini’ Ban Illustrates the Unequal Cultural Power That Shapes the Lives of Muslims in Europe

 Swedish Muslim Women Talk about How It Feels to Be Constantly Spoken For

 Israeli Jews, Muslims Puzzled By French 'Burkini' Brouhaha

 Nearly Half of Britons Think Burkinis Should Be BANNED From Our Beaches Following French Crackdown on the Islamic Swimwear

 Between Burkini and Bikini, I Don’t Know What to Wear

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



With Supreme Court Taking up Plea, Will Indian Muslim Women’s Demand Be Fulfilled?

Sep 1, 2016

A week from now will a process be set in motion, by which a wife, hearing the dreaded words "Talaq, Talaq, Talaq", could turn around and tell her husband: "Sorry, sir, I’m still your wife, the highest court has said so"?

On 6 September, the Supreme Court takes up the plea filed by Shayara Bano of Uttarakhand in February, to hold unconstitutional the practices of "triple Talaq" — unilateral instant divorce pronounced by a husband, Halala (remarriage to the same spouse after the divorced woman consummates her marriage with another man and gets divorced by him), and polygamy.

Two women divorced through triple Talaq from Jaipur and Kolkata have also approached the Court. Their petitions and a number of supportive pleas filed by Muslim women’s organisations, as well as by the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, have all been bunched together.

Opposing these petitions in court are the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind (JUH) and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB).

This is at heart a fight between women wanting change and religious heads opposing it. It’s reached the Supreme Court primarily because a golden opportunity to end the practice of triple talaq prevalent among Sunnis, and acknowledged even by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board as "sinful", has presented itself.

In December, a bench headed by the Chief Justice, refusing to entertain a PIL demanding a Uniform Civil Code, stated: "If a victim of triple talaq comes to the court and questions the validity of the… procedure, we can surely examine the legality of triple talaq and find out whether it violated her fundamental rights." It would have been silly indeed, if such victims had not seized this opportunity.

However, this isn’t the first time Muslim women have gone to court against the way their husbands have interpreted their personal laws. But every time they’ve done so, it’s after having failed to get their rights from their religious heads.

Muslim women, who were displaced by deadly religious strife last year, stand in a queue to cast their votes for the general election at a polling station in Palra village in Muzaffarnagar district in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh April 10, 2014. The election is spread out over five weeks, with voting ending on May 12. It was the turn of voters in Delhi, the capital, on Thursday and many parts of Uttar Pradesh, including Muzaffarnagar, where Narendra Modi's popularity is running high and Muslims are worried about their future. For many of the 815 million registered to vote, Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) represent a promise of better governance, industrial growth and job creation. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee (INDIA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS RELIGION) - RTR3KO7GEvery time Muslim women have have gone to court against the way their husbands have interpreted their personal laws, it’s after having failed to get their rights from their religious heads. Reuters

It’s not as if solutions within the community haven’t been tried. Muslim groups have drawn up model nikahnamas (marriage contracts), forbidding triple talaq. But who will ensure they are implemented? The Board’s own model nikahnama, drawn up a decade ago under pressure from women, prescribes talaq according to the Quran, wherein divorce is a properly thought-out procedure requiring arbitration. But the Board has done nothing to propagate this nikahnama, which anyway doesn’t lay down punishments for husbands who flout it.

Courts have done more justice to women, and to Quranic injunctions regarding them, than the religious establishment. In 2002, the Supreme Court (Shamim Ara vs State of UP), held that only a talaq which follows the Quranic procedure is valid. High Courts have followed suit.

Yet, men continue to divorce their wives using these three words, with full support from religious heads. Only a few women thrown out like this have the inclination and means to challenge these talaqs in court and render them invalid in accordance with precedents.

But what is expected of the Supreme Court this time isn’t just a reiteration of the Shamim Ara judgment. The practice of triple talaq per se is sought to be banned. The argument against it this time in the many pleas is not just religious, but also Constitutional: Do these provisions of Muslim Personal Law, as practiced in India, violate the fundamental right of equality to all guaranteed by the Constitution?

The JUH and AIMPLB say that the court cannot ban triple talaq as that would be a violation of the Muslims’ fundamental right to freedom of religion. But there’s enough material to prove that this practice is nowhere approved of in the Quran. Indeed, it is banned in most Islamic countries.

Interestingly, in the recent Haji Ali judgment, the Bombay High Court dealt with both aspects: religious and Constitutional. It held that the trustees of the Haji Ali dargah had failed to prove that their decision to forbid women from entering the shrine’s sanctum sanctorum was an "essential and integral part" of Islam. Additionally, their decision violated the fundamental right to equality.

The current triple talaq case can’t be viewed as a sudden phenomenon of Muslim women rushing to court. A plea to the Supreme Court to declare the entire Muslim Personal Law unconstitutional had been made 30 years back by young Shahnaz Shaikh, who headed a Muslim women’s organisation in Mumbai. Her plea however, got lost in the furore raised by the Supreme Court’s Shah Bano judgment of 1985, which granted an old Muslim divorcee a monthly maintenance for life under a secular law.

The Shah Bano decree was no different from others made in similar cases. But the remarks on Prophet Muhammed made at the end of the judgment were used by Muslim politicians and religious heads to whip up a frenzy. Shah Bano was attacked till she voluntarily gave up her legal right. Parliament enacted a law aimed at depriving Muslim divorcees of the protection of the secular law. (In 2001, the Supreme Court laid down a liberal interpretation of this law.)

The few Muslim voices in support of Shah Bano were drowned in the din of "Islam in danger" created by the community’s male leaders. A survey done by this writer at that time, of those actually affected by this development, ie, Muslim divorcees claiming maintenance, most of them poor and illiterate, had shown that they were, to a woman, against triple talaq and the move to remove them from the purview of a secular law that gave them lifelong maintenance. But none of the saviours of Islam cared to ask them, and they had no forum to express their opinion.

The day the new law was enacted, Shah Bano’s supporters wore black badges. When would the day come, they wondered, when Muslim women would acquire the strength to influence new legislation that affected them?

Well, that day has come. Shah Bano had little support; Shayara Bano has tons. The organisations supporting Shayara Bano’s plea are based in Kozhikode, Mumbai, Chennai, Lucknow. Whether reformist, wanting change within the ambit of the Quran,  or radical, invoking only the Constitution, they represent a new generation of women who aren’t afraid to study and interpret the Quran by themselves, to run legal centres for women, and to come out on the streets to demand their rights.

Expectedly, the Ulema characterise these women as not representative of the average Muslim woman. But like in Shah Bano’s time, even today it is the Ulema who remain disconnected from the women of their community. A survey of 4,710 women in 10 states by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan found that 88 percent of them wanted a ban on triple talaq. The Andolan has sent 50,000 signatures in support of such a ban to every authority.

It’s not women alone, or even intellectuals. The all-male Sunni Ulema Council recently asked the AIMPLB to treat the pronouncement of triple talaq by a husband as just one pronouncement, as done by the Ahl al-Hadees sect. This way, the pronouncement doesn’t become irrevocable. The Board refused.

The women who’ve petitioned the Supreme Court are being termed by the Ulema as RSS agents. The credentials of these organisations (except one) rule that out. Whether in Shah Bano’s time, when the Congress was in power, or now, Muslim women who’ve spoken out against their leaders have always been told that the community is under siege, now’s not the time to speak up as women; doing so would mean supporting "the enemy". This time, "the enemy" is ruling the country.

The question is: how long should Muslim wives allow their lives to be ruined by their husband’s right to divorce them at a drop of a hat? With even the Supreme Court having ruled against it, when will the time be right for Muslim women to demand that this practice be legally abolished?



The ‘Burkini’ Ban Illustrates the Unequal Cultural Power That Shapes the Lives of Muslims in Europe

Sep 1, 2016

The banning of the ‘Burkini’ by a number of French municipalities has generated heated discussion about the nature of secularism in France. George Kassimeris and Leonie Jackson write that the burkini ban, alongside attempts to restrict the use of religious symbols and clothing in other European countries, demonstrates the unequal cultural power that shapes the lives of Muslims in Europe, where the entitlement to feel ‘comfortable’ is deemed more important than Muslim women’s right to veil.

Images of armed police supervising the undressing of a Muslim woman on a Nice beach have gone viral in the last few days. The officers were apparently upholding the ban on the ‘burkini’, a swimsuit that covers the legs, arms and hair, and is contentious because of its religious connotations, read as provocative to the secular values of the French state.

The woman in these widely shared images was not wearing the ‘burkini’, but a headscarf, leggings and tunic, which she was forced to remove as four police officers stood over her. The power dynamics in this image could hardly be more stark, but the disapproval, suspicion and coercion involved are an everyday and mundane reality for many Muslim women across Europe. Constantly commanded to integrate, at the same time as being admonished for not doing so correctly, contemporary Islamophobia regularly constructs Muslims as objects; to be disciplined and controlled by those entitled to decide, supervise and direct the level of acceptable integration.

French commitment to laïcité means that state attitudes to religious symbols are bluntly hostile. Yet, we need only consider Jack Straw’s famous intervention into the ‘veil debate’ in the UK to remember that the construction of Islamic dress as contentious is a widely shared narrative across Europe. In 2006 Straw, a former justice secretary and then a Labour MP for Blackburn, reflected on a meeting with a veiled constituent who, although on most levels integrated (in terms of accent and education), made him question the common bonds that the veil seemed to sever. In an article for the Blackburn-based Lancashire Telegraph, which prompted a debate, he wrote: “Above all, it was because I felt uncomfortable about talking to someone “face-to-face” who I could not see. So I decided that I wouldn’t just sit there the next time a lady turned up to see me in a full veil, and I haven’t… I can’t recall a single occasion when a lady has refused to lift the veil; most seem relieved”.

Framing the veil as a sign of separation, the French, like Jack Straw before, have marked it as a difference that exceeds their level of tolerance and resolved to no longer accept this state of affairs by henceforth requesting that veils be removed. However, such decisions are being formulated, and their consequences acted out, from a position of cultural power where the entitlement to feel ‘comfortable’ is deemed more important than Muslim women’s right to veil.

If the veil is constructed as a mark of separation and difference, then its removal becomes a nod towards integration and similarity, but its meaning in British or French society must not be decided a priori. The ‘burkini’ was designed to widen and encourage the participation of Muslim women in beach culture in much the same way that the veil acts, for some, as a way to retain principles of Islamic modesty while taking part in everyday activities.

It is somewhat ironic that the very articles of clothing that encourage comfortable participation in European societies are being marked out as so dangerous to these societie’ values that they must be removed. There is no more naked display of this power than the image of armed police forcing a peacefully reclining woman to undress. To empathise with her it is necessary to imagine the psychic rupture involved when, enjoying the mundane activity of lying on a beach, one is forced to come to terms with one’s construction as an object whose very presence disturbs the order of things.

The decision by France’s State Council court that the ‘burkini’ ban is plainly illegal is welcome. But decriminalising clothing is not the central issue. We must disentangle values from cloth in order to understand that coercive undressing does not always require an armed officer to direct it.



Swedish Muslim Women Talk About How It Feels to Be Constantly Spoken For

September 1, 2016

Being a Muslim in Sweden means you'll have to regularly explain why you don't want to drink a beer after work on Fridays, but that's not the only hassle you deal with. Sweden's media landscape is flooded with experts, writers, and politicians explaining various ways for Swedish Muslims to adapt to "Swedish culture", suggesting hijab bans or voicing concerns over gender equality and whether that can be in harmony with wearing a veil. Most of these self-proclaimed experts aren't Muslim.

Like Moderaterna's Sophia Jarl, who is one of those many loud non-Muslim voices demanding a hijab ban in Sweden's elementary schools. She highlighted her plan last week in a piece published only a day after news broke that a woman lying on the beach in Nice, France was forced by police to undress, due to the city's local burkini ban (which has been overturned since).

So how do Swedish Muslim women actually feel about endlessly being spoken for and about – without being asked for their opinion? In a week with so many headlines concerning Muslim women, I reached out to some to find out.

We're living in a democracy, so decision-makers shouldn't suggest laws about what women can and can't wear in public places. Why can't a woman be allowed to cover herself with a burkini when surfers can? It's a double standard and it's wrong. It's because it's about Muslim women.

There's always someone else speaking for us. Like that professor Devin Rexvid, writing about the veil being a symbol for oppression. He knows a lot and he gets the chance to speak. But he's not at all an expert to speak for women – especially Muslim women.

It all comes down to the the choices of the individual. If I want to wear a bikini to a public beach and someone is telling me to cover up, well, that's oppression. If I want to wear a burkini to a public beach and someone's telling me to undress, well guess what? That's oppression too. It's always some man making decisions for us – "get undressed, get dressed". No one but me should make those kinds of decisions.

I wore a hijab for about six years, and that felt great. But at one point I wasn't able to deal with confrontations on the street anymore – the verbal and physical ones. You're always the outsider, you're always questioned. Your energy to deal with that is limited.

There are many self-appointed experts on matters concerning us Muslim women. They tell us what's behind the choices we've made, that we don't really want this. We're often deemed unfit to make our own decisions in the current debate. I have to be allowed to tell my own story, someone else can't do that for me. Especially not someone who has assumptions about me. People assume I was forced to wear a hijab, and that I've taken it off they assume I've experienced some kind of liberation. It's actually the other way around. The Western debate about female clothing has come down to: "A woman should be free to make her own decisions as long as we can decide what she decides." And so we end up on the other side of the exact same coin of patriarchy.

To wear something on your head or to wear long skirts is part of an identity. Who am I if I'm not allowed to be me? Clothing bans alienate people. It's my choice to wear what I wear. People penalising me for what I wear are oppressing me.

I'm generally pretty positive though. I try to make sure I understand people who might not have picked up on what Islam is from a valid source. I think it's important for everyone to – at the very least – respect that some people have other religious beliefs. I honestly appreciate when people ask questions about Islam – it's important that we have a dialogue and I'm happy that people are curious and actually ask.

I don't think media are very good at showing what Islam is like on the inside. But the most important thing for me is that I know why I chose to dress the way I dress and that I know what I believe in – this is who I am and I won't apologise for it. I sometimes find it amusing that other people are taking the right to speak for me, because usually they have no clue what they're talking about. It's not the end of the world for me though – I know who I am.



Israeli Jews, Muslims puzzled by French 'burkini' brouhaha

September 1, 2016

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - In Israel, where it is fair to say Muslims and Jews do not always agree, there is shared confusion and surprise at events across the Mediterranean: the push by French mayors to ban full-body swimsuits, or "burkinis", on beaches.

France's highest administrative court ruled against the ban on Friday, but mayors in several beachfront towns have said they will defy the edict, determined to stop swimwear designed to be Islam-compliant appearing in public.

It is a policy that has drawn some popular support while provoking outrage and ridicule, with editorialists playing up the irony of a liberal country challenging the strictures of Islam by telling women what they cannot wear.

In Israel, there may be profound ideological and political differences between the Jewish population and the near 20-percent Muslim minority, but it has never come down to banning someone's dress on the basis of religion.

"It is very funny that people think they are so liberal and open and yet they cannot stand other religions and the feelings of other people," said Ruti Solomon, an Israeli Jewish woman enjoying the sunshine on the beach in Tel Aviv.

Behind her, Muslim women with their bodies and heads fully covered in burkini-like clothing played in the water or relaxed on the sand, with the church spires and mosque minarets of the town of Jaffa in the near distance.

"I've heard what's happening in Europe," said Shams al-Duha Alayyan, a fully-covered young Muslim woman visiting the coast from Jerusalem. "This is personal freedom. If I want to cover my body, why can't I cover my body?"


Of course, Israel has its quirks, too. The ultra-Orthodox Jewish population enjoys the seaside as much as anyone else. But they keep separate, not only having segregated beaches but alternating the bathing days for men and women.

North of Tel Aviv, it was women's day at an ultra-Orthodox beach on Tuesday. Busloads of visitors arrived in full-body swimwear and went down to the beachfront via a security gate, with high fencing all around to keep out prying eyes.

Anat Yahav is the chief executive of SunWay UV Clothing, an Israeli company that supplies modest swimwear to Jews and Muslims in Israel and beyond. Muslim women generally prefer swimsuits with a head covering and Jewish women full-body suits without one, she says.

Either way, business is strong and she cannot understand why the French have decided to kick up such a fuss.

"When I see what's happening in France, I think we're very sane here," she said with a laugh.

France's move against burkinis follows a series of deadly attacks by Islamist militants that has put the nation on edge. While Israeli beachgoers sympathized about the need to tighten security, they warned against missing the target.

"In France ... it is a big problem right now," said Shiran Rokban, a sunbather in Tel Aviv. "They have to deal with the real thing, not with the burkini and all these things on the beach."



Nearly half of Britons think burkinis should be BANNED from our beaches following French crackdown on the Islamic swimwear

September 1, 2016

Almost half of Britons would back a burkini ban, a new poll revealed today.

A YouGov survey found that 46 per cent of people would welcome a ban on the controversial swimwear for Muslim women and 30 per cent would oppose it. 

And even more people would support a British burka ban with 57 per cent supporting the idea and just 25 per cent against it.

It was assumed that the UK would be more relaxed about the burka than the secular French, who banned the Islamic veil five years ago.

Their burkini ban was, however, scrapped this week after France's highest appeal court, ruled it was ‘seriously and clearly illegal’.

The issue exploded in France after a young Muslim mother was ordered off the beach at Cannes and fined for simply wearing a headscarf.

Ukip have called for a British burka ban and research from YouGov suggests this would be a popular policy with a majority of the public - 57 per cent supporting a ban while just 25 per cent are against outlawing it.

Although proponents of a ban suggest it as a way of helping to promote women’s rights, the research shows that women are about as likely to support a ban as men, 56 per cent and 58 per cent respectively.

Support for a ban rises as people get older, with just 34 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds supporting the ban, rising to 78 per cent of those aged 65 or older.

Working class people are also more likely to support the ban than middle class people, 61 per cent versus 54 per cent. 

YouGov has found a similar level of support for a burka ban in Germany with 62 per cent supporting a ban and 27 per cent opposing one.

In America a ban is strongly opposed, with 59 per cent of people opposing the ban and just 27 per cent opposing it.

This week France's highest appeal court yesterday scrapped the burkini ban saying it was ‘illegal’.

Three judges at the Council of State in Paris ruled in favour of an appeal by the Human Rights League and Collective Against Islamophobia in France.

The ruling was watched closely in France and around the world after photos of armed police ordering a Muslim woman to remove a body-concealing garment on a beach in Nice sparked outrage this week.

On Monday a tribunal in the French Riviera city ruled that a burkini ban in the nearby town of Villeneuve-Loubet was necessary to prevent public disorder. The Council of State’s verdict specifically concerns that ban but will also provide a legal precedent for France.

However, despite ministry of justice sources in Paris saying the ruling would apply immediately across all resorts, some mayors have risked further legal challenges by saying they would not lift the restriction.

Ange-Pierre Vivoni, mayor of the Corsican town of Sisco, claimed burkinis had sparked clashes between Muslim bathers and locals. He said: ‘Here the tension is very strong and I won’t withdraw it [the ban].’

At least 15 cities, resorts and towns have implemented bans on the full-body swimsuit this summer and many more were considering the move. The policy has sparked fierce debate about France’s secular values, women’s rights and religious freedom.



Between Burkini and Bikini, I Don’t Know What to Wear

Sep 01, 2016

France: We're a liberal democracy - take off your clothes! Israel: We're a liberal democracy - put on some clothes!

Obsession. This would not be an over-the-top definition for the constant, stubborn and ridiculous preoccupation with women’s dress that besets men, societies, authorities, states and lord knows who else. While the burkini wars rage with full force in France, in Ashdod the incident of the female singer who appeared in an event on the beach in brief clothing brought the Ministry of Culture to announce that it will be publishing guidelines for behavior and clothing at events it funds.

Stripping down or dressing, what is certain is that the woman herself, ostensibly an individual, doesn’t have much space for decisions about what she will or will not wear – according to everyone else. You wear a head covering? No doubt you suffer from oppression. Are you wearing a décolleté mini-dress? Slut.

The arguments have already worn thin. Does a prohibition on wearing a burkini save Muslim women from oppression by Muslim men, as many in the West see it – or is it the Western perspective that is arrogant, deciding for Muslim women what is right for them and eradicating them and their own wishes? Is shock at a singer in a bikini on the beach the start of a process whereby all of us, Israeli women, will ultimately have to cover our hair, not sing in mixed company and in general keep our mouths shut (as is the fondest dream of some of my faithful readers) – or is there scope for a dress code on stage in a public space?

Coven of witches

It is, of course, absurd that what should be obvious – every women can decide for herself, get off our case – really isn’t obvious at all. But supposing we did achieve that, a question arises that isn’t very comfortable: What if after all the sisterhood, the comparisons, the expectations and the demands (to cover or to reveal, it doesn’t really matter), we each and every one of us don’t really know what we want? I don’t mean, of course, that there is someone else who does know, but rather I’m wondering to what extent it is at all possible to be attuned to yourself and your real, “authentic” wishes (if there is any such thing) after years of patriarchal brainwashing.

To try to clarify this question, I turned to a select coven of witches.

Yael Braudo-Bahat, who is studying for her doctorate in jurisprudence, says: “I know what I like to wear, I have pretty defined taste and also know how to suit my clothes to the context. I have dresses and shirts with deep V-necks and when I wear them to work I will wear a tank top under them, but when I go out for a social evening I won’t do that. All this isn’t out of considerations of modesty but rather of dignity and context.

“I know on my own how to make my clothing appropriate and wouldn’t want anyone else to decide for me how long my sleeves must be when I go to the university to study. Incidentally, in my own mind I sometimes criticize other women and men whose clothing seems to me to be too revealing for the context (or just not dignified enough, even if it isn’t revealing), but usually I won’t say anything to them because my opinion doesn’t need to interest them.

“There is no doubt that my taste is influenced by cultural constructs, by fashion, by expectations and so on. None of us live in an empty space and influences are inevitable, just as they are with respect to many other choices in our lives. But there is a huge difference between these influences and violent dictates about what to wear and what not to wear, as happened in both Nice and Ashdod.”

Dana Regev, a journalist who currently lives in Germany (“The burkini is a hot topic here,”), says: “I don’t think it is really possible to get free of this, I just think it doesn’t matter, or it’s not relevant. Even after my ‘liberation’ I have a certain preferences. I personally am not prepared to wear a tank top or low necklines out of fear, and it’s clear to me that this isn’t a ‘free’ decision that I’d also make on a desert island.

“Today I am bound by this and hesitate to expose body parts – for all kinds of reasons – but still I want people to accept this and not judge me or preach to me. Everyone is invited not to scare me with their presence and then maybe I won’t be afraid anymore. But until then, at least leave me to grapple with the horror in my own way and don’t meddle with me about this as well.”

By way of contrast, feminist activist Efrat Latman says she “totally knows. I like to expose, because I’m in love with the feeling of the wind on my body. And no crazy man is going to take this away from me.”

Rivka Olstein relates: “It has always angered me that when I was religious they would preach to me about head coverings, ‘You’re collaborating with oppression,’ and so on. And now too, when I have laser treatments for hair removal: ‘How does depilation line up with feminism?’ My answer is always, ‘A feminist does whatever she wants with her body.’ So I’ve been influenced, by society and more. But it’s still mine.”

Lior Gal Cohen believes that “we’re all patriarchal, men and women alike, some of us in detox. So yes, we – I, at least – are influenced by social preferences around us. The ‘detox’ says that it questions these preferences and sometimes succeeds.”

Avigail Horovitz notes the complexity: “Body hair, for example, looks completely fine to me. I don’t see it as ugly and there are things like red nail polish and bright red lipstick that I love precisely because of the social dictates. The message this transmits is part of what is beautiful, in my view. It seems to me that I know what I like but it’s hard to know with absolute certainty – what I like is also culture-dependent.”

And another feminist friend admits: “I really don’t know where the social constructs on me and my head end and ‘I’ begin.”

According to designer and lecturer on fashion Sophia Trotoush Argaman, “One of the reasons it’s hard for me to design clothes for women is that it’s hard for me to bear the body image nearly all of them have – the self-loathing. The purpose of clothing as far as they are concerned is always to conceal, to narrow, to blur, to make smaller. For me, clothes are for fun. There are also a lot of mental, or structural fixations like the thing about stripes or black that all kinds of things women parrot like a slogan without ever asking themselves if they are really true. There are lots of issues of age, of what is ‘allowed’ and what is ‘impermissible’ for women to wear above a certain age. The media, of course, encourages this: Not long ago I saw a report about [the model] Vik. She said with utter seriousness that she won’t be seen in shorts any more because a woman over the age of 35 can’t show her legs.

“There’s a lot of fear about attracting attention by means of clothing. There’s a lot of gray even among secular women, gold is almost completely beyond the pale and altogether bling-bling is reserved for the real troopers, women with a lot of ‘daring’ – and even they for the most part are policed by other women. I personally, for example, get a lot of ‘What fun for you!’ about clothes that I ‘dare’ to wear.”

Most women, in her opinion, are totally out of touch with themselves when it comes to clothes. “Women are always a bit angry at themselves, belittling themselves. Buying clothes catches them at their most sensitive. These are love-hate relationships. They do believe that a garment can change or at least steer their fate, but they don’t dare. There’s a designers’ joke that we design clothing in colors only so the clients can feel that they have chosen the black or the gray. Look at how the mothers didn’t go out with their daughters on the pants protest. Most mothers’ reacted: ‘Fine, so they shouldn’t dress like bimbos.’ And this hurt me more than anything, that another policed generation was born.”

This isn’t about a question of fashion – which is interesting in and of itself – but rather of the unimaginable extent to which our bodies are taken away from us, in so many and varied ways. Some of us were teenagers who swathed ourselves in as much cloth as possible, some of us got a social message to the effect that our value resides in the exposure of our bodies. Some of us had our skirts measured with a ruler and some of us were expected to wear the shortest and hottest miniskirt possible. Maybe when the clothing a woman chooses stops being the whole world’s business, we, each of us, will be free to figure out for herself what truly suits her.

And in the meantime, the bikini-burkini problem does in fact have a solution: The singer from Ashdod, Hannah Gur, will perform on the beach in Nice and the French Muslims in the burkinis will go swimming at the beach in Ashdod. I’m not sure that our government ministers are going to be thrilled to death by this, but solving that problem is beyond me.

read more:



New Age IslamIslam OnlineIslamic WebsiteAfrican Muslim NewsArab World NewsSouth Asia NewsIndian Muslim NewsWorld Muslim NewsWomen in IslamIslamic FeminismArab WomenWomen In ArabIslamophobia in AmericaMuslim Women in WestIslam Women and Feminism