Monday, October 26, 2009

Bikinis vs Burqas?

So my husband works at the IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) now in New York. They work on behalf of veterans as a whole for more benefits, better rights, things like that.

Anyway, they got a video today from a guy who told them that the best way to combat gender inequality in Iraq and Afghanistan would be to send all the women there Western style clothing. He said something to the effect that he was "using his best instincts as a man".

They got a pretty good laugh out of that one, as did I. I think it's been proven time and again that education is the best way to combat these sorts of problems, not forcing women to wear short shorts like Miley Cyrus. In fact, I think that might just get them stoned to death or something. Combating forced morality and dress by going to the extreme opposite is just fighting fire with fire.

I love this photo I found, by the way. It's Lil Kim actually, if you were curious. Obviously forced covering of the face is a pretty good way to dehumanize someone. You can't see their facial expressions or communicate with them in the same way that you can with someone whose face you can see. For women who choose to wear a niqab that's fine, it's their choice, but I don't agree with it simply because of the fact that it's representative of the oppression that a lot of women face by being forced into wearing it. At the same time, I read a study a few months ago which explained that heterosexual men who viewed images of women in bikinis didn't recognize them so much as human beings but as objects. Women need to be allowed to make their own choices and wear what they feel comfortable in, not told what they should wear because it looks sexy or makes them a more moral or pious person.


  1. Good Post Emily,
    It did raise my angst a little about the guy thinking he knew how to "liberate" the women of the East... Needless to say, I think it is rather ignorant of this guy to think that he knows what is good for women on the other side of the world. After being a female vet overseas, I would like to add my two cents. First, the women I met don't need American men to save them; they need someone to educate and liberate their men. Secondly, I can honestly say that the needed interventions in extremely oppressive cultures don't need to be applied to the women, but rather the men... Of course, women know this already. When will the men realize this? ... Arg, I am mentally stuck on a soap box, but I will spare you : ). ___Stephanie

  2. I love it! Also think it's pretty cool J got recognition from his work after finding this article. -A

    PS- I think the picture you posted completely fits the point of your post, and completely de-humanizes the woman. She's just a body. Ugh. Some men are pigs.

  3. Stephanie, you're absolutely right. I should have clarified a little that I meant education to men since they are basically the community leaders and are the ones who have all the power in these oppressive cultures. Women need education too, but a different kind. They need to be educated about health and child rearing for the good of their families and communities. They need basic schooling that everyone should have and then opportunities for high education as well. It's been proven that women who are better educated have healthier children, and obviously they can be self sufficient and successful with an education, not defendant on men for everything.

    Yeah, I love the juxtaposition of her sexy body and covered face. The two extremes really make the point clear: either way, she isn't being viewed as a person but an object.