Monday, April 12, 2010

Unveiled



I’ve called this unveiled to mock the bullshit books and movies that
Have got sold post 9/11 only because of opportunistic titles like ‘the unveiling’. ‘Islam unveiled’, ‘behind the veil’ and the books that got sold only because their covers showed women in hijab.

In this day and age, because neo- liberal democracies do not openly support racism or sexism. Orientalism often exists as a subtle undertone. One of the few areas where the subtlety rule completely falls away is the area of the hijab (veil).

Of course the real reason Muslim women are oppressed and long suffering is not because of the imperialist regimes that have desecrated their homes and families in the race towards military domination but because of a piece of cloth they choose to cover their heads with either as a religious or political choice. The little piece of cloth – might I add - that has got the collective knickers of many European governments in a knot.

Muslim women are shown as backward, un-educated and faceless. They have no individual personalities but are rather a huge blob shown either as a crying mother who has lost her son in Iraq or a women in a blue burqa walking behind her husband in Afghanistan.

So if they aren’t filmed against the background of a war-torn middle eastern country then it’s the old school harem and the beyond orientalist, Sherazadee and 1001 Arabian Nights scene.

This underwear add is the most blatantly orientalist bullshit I’ve seen since Walt Disney’s Aladdin. It ignores the very essence of why one would choose to dress modestly and feeds into the whole 'what's under the veil' obsession the west has. Now European men have a visual to excite their imagination when they look as Muslim women. It takes away from REAL issues of oppression and subjugation and allows the veiled Muslim women to be portrayed as a sex object. This time however you won’t have to ask men from the west to liberate them, more than once.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Blogger,

Even with my issues with some of what you said, I can not help but read with awe your prose. The words flow and the screams of the stifled in a liberated region cry out.

Thank you for reading the Orientalist undertones of Imperialism. I like the way you relate war for economics with the broader socio-cultural and historic baggage of hatred.

Dear Blogger, you writings as poignant as they are, still remain only descriptive. Can you prescribe any thing to any problem?

Or are you like me who is still trying to find the right/explanatory language for questions?

Is there any answer or all there all questions? You will benefit like me from a reading of Gorgio Agamben's "Homo Sacer". The Italian thinker takes Focault's argument on body-politics of knowledge a little further.

We need to question but search for solutions as well. My solution to the "problem of veil" is to define human for our selves.

If a human can be defined independently of dress choices then perhaps there is no veil problem. Is nudist a problem?

Can there be a human who denies these choices of dressing or eating or socializing or living? Can one be a human still with a strong desire of suicide?

Define human in different secular/atheistic/scientific or religious traditions. Relate the positive attributes that qualify it as a human. Is a veiled lady still a human?

If yes then let us reject such questions as petty, and engage in critical material scholarship.

Azra said...

What I don't get DD, is what about all the Orthodox Jews, or the Amish, or the Orthodox Christians... all their women cover their hair, yet no one is up their asses about it... perhaps its our sheer number and the very real prospect that if our Islamic States could get over their egotistical bullcrap, that we'd actually be the single most powerful threat that the world has ever seen? Maybe thats why they pick on the women and on Islam in general.

Shaakera said...

Dear Blogger,

I agree wholeheartedly with what you are saying.

It would be worthwhile to point out that most oppression of womens rights are not based on teaching of the Islamic religion, but rather cultural factors, especially in cultures where women are deemed to be the "inferior" sex.

Its a pity that Islam gets the blame for this disgusting behaviour.

desert demons said...

Cremated Wolf : deconstruction appears to be your forte, while this is very important , remember that real life is a far cry from the theory of life.

Azra : All good points , isn't it interesting how what we presume to be something so ordinary is what others see as a threat to empire ?

Shaakera : All to often people blame islam instead of the patriachal interpretations of faith.

thanx to all for the comments :)

Majestic Elk said...

Hi DD,
I understand your anger and agree with most of what you say. However, please do not equate Western government Propaganda and commercial exploitation of orientalism with the attitudes of of ordinary European men. By generalising about European male fantasies you are guity of the same injustice that you are correct in condemning. Please do not insult all European males by assuming that we subscribe to the infantile propaganda of the base commercialised, western media. Some of us, maybe most of us are independent in our thoughts. Most of us even hate our governments more than you do!
May I invite you to a coffee and we can develop this discussion.
You may arrive veiled or unveiled. You can even pay for the coffee if u wish!
May I have the opportunity of showing that we are not the "demons" you think we are!
Elk

desert demons said...

Hey Elk , where have you been ???
Coffee with you is always a yes :) and I think that those that see the world as you do are few and far between , so I salute you for the way you see life :)

The Dude said...

Im a little behind so apologies for the delayed post here.
I just had to comment because I think it is a great point you make here. In fact I think ironically this ad does nothing but justify the fundies who insist on burqa and hijab.

My understanding is that a significant part of the covering was to prevent temptation of the men and to maintain good character and basically not be lecherous and this ad does nothing but give reason to lech and justify it.

Nothing but cheap manipulation and exploitation of sexuality and the female body yet again for marketing purposes. It is sad to see.