Facing grave danger since she currently lives in Egypt (Sahin lives in Germany, Malik in India as well as Pakistan), this young blogger has managed to draw attention to the increasing injustices women face in Egypt without demeaning herself along Western lines. But, again, there may be other ways to go about rebelling.
We live at a moment in history in which worldwide a woman’s “looks” are more essential to her survival than ever before. Today, incredibly, women are being judged, paid, employed, and married as a function of how good they look in a bikini and a mini skirt or whether they wear a burqa or a head scarf. Women are even killed when they violate dress codes in the Muslim world.
If feminist ideas have indeed progressed and seized the imagination of the world, then having to conform to either highly eroticized clothing or to the shroud-like burqa represents a new kind of backlash against women’s freedom. At the very least, it is certainly a giant step backward.
Neither the bikini nor the burqa liberates or protects women. Rapists, harassers, and stalkers continue to attack women whether they are half-naked, “naked-faced,” or fully veiled. In the 21st century, Egyptian male mobs numbering up to 1000 went on“wilding” sprees. Recently, “wild” Egyptian men tore the clothing off working female journalists — both infidels and Muslims — and groped. One journalist, Mona Eltahawy, was sexually assaulted in police captivity; the men with guns also broke her arm.
Naked women abound. This does not mean they are powerful or free. Female prostitution and pornography as well as sex trafficking and female sexual slavery flourish in fundamentalist Muslim and non-Muslim countries and in heathen Western enclaves on both coasts of America and all across Europe. The number of women who are being repeatedly and publicly gang-raped in Africa has been steadily increasing. As of May 2011, two million women in the Congo have been raped.
Both clothing extremes denote a rather heartbreaking conformity and comprise a variety of health hazards. Both often affect a woman’s self-esteem in negative ways.
For example, I have mournful reservations about trendy-sexual clothing styles. I am concerned about the anxiety, eating disorders, drug addiction, and low self-esteem that often accompany girls and women who become obsessed with having an idealized, young, sexy, thin, and large-breasted appearance. Stylish but very high heels may be beautiful but women are falling in such shoes and breaking bones. They are also setting themselves up for later misery. In terms of surgery: girls and women at younger and younger ages are subjecting themselves to the knife so that they have more perfect facial features and bodies. At least $10 billion was spent on plastic surgery in America in 2011.
Alright. So is the “solution” to cover up completely? Is this also a fitting spiritual or religious statement about the importance of spurning outward appearance, material or pagan values, and dedicating oneself to God? If so, then why aren’t their male counterparts doing the same thing? Where are all the face-veiled mullahs? Ironically, when such men cover their faces and heads, they most resemble ninja warriors — or shrouded women. But this is male battle gear. What battle is it that women are fighting as they “cover up”?
A burqa is a sensory deprivation and isolation chamber which effectively deprives the wearer of communicating freely and easily with others. This is the precise function of the burqa. It is a moveable prison. One’s ability to speak, hear, and be heard is compromised as is one’s peripheral vision, sense of smell, and ability to eat or shop in public.