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Thread: Muslims and modest dress (hijab)

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Muslims and modest dress (hijab)

    The last couple decades have seen a resurgence in the popularity of 'modest dress' in many Muslim countries, particularly among younger women.



    The Koran, exhorts Muslim women not to reveal any part of their bodies to men (except to their husbands). The rational or philisophical explanations for this are deeply rooted in Muslim views on sexuality. The Reader's Digest version is that 'sex' is a thing that women have and men want. An ideal society and one where an individual is best able to evolve, is a society where an individual's mind is not focused habitually on sex (understand this as 'out of sight out of mind'). Sexual impulses are seen as being primarily an acitve force exerted by men and merely seeing a woman's body is an invitation to think about sex. Devout Muslim women will also tell you that modest dress prevents them from being viewed as a 'sex object'.

    My question - is there legitimacy behind these views? Hypothetically, wouldn't a society not obsessed with sex actually be a more desirable state of affairs? Is there another or more efficient way to accomplish this end? Without taking comfort into account, how is 'modest dress' in any way oppressive to women?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    The biggest problem with Islamic modest dress isn't the cultural preference its the government imposition.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop
    The biggest problem with Islamic modest dress isn't the cultural preference its the government imposition.
    It's true that a number of governments (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan or Iran) make modest dress a matter of law. I forgot to mention that the places we're seeing the increases is in countries with supposedly secular governments like Egypt and Pakistan.
    Last edited by Maister; 01 Mar 2006 at 12:33 PM.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian dobopoq's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister
    My question - is there legitimacy behind these views? Hypothetically, wouldn't a society not obsessed with sex actually be a more desirable state of affairs? Is there another or more efficient way to accomplish this end? Without taking comfort into account, how is 'modest dress' in any way oppressive to women?
    I think it's questionable whether the modest dress actually achieves this goal of being less sexed up. Aside from the modest dress, my understanding is that women are discouraged from going out alone in public. So in addition to the habit (er, whatever you call it Burka is it? ), the women you'd see in it, are vastly outnumbered by males in public. This seems an overly harsh restriction on women's freedom, out of proportion to its supposed benefit.

    I have not been to a nude beach, although I've heard that in nudist communities, the prevalence of nudity actually diminishes people's obsession with it - the more they are around it.

    The bottom line for me is:

    1. I don't agree that sex is a bad thing, though I'm willing to entertain the possibility that reducing people's fixation upon it, may be beneficial in certain contexts.
    2. I disagree that only women have sexual attractiveness. And I disagree that they are/should be, passive with regard to their interest in men as sex objects.
    3. I think people should be free to go naked or shrouded as befits their choice of adaptation to temperature, regardless of social context.

    Dress is a spectrum. We should no more require nudity, than we should require total enshroudment in clothes. Both Muslims, and Westerners - in fact most cultures, regard nudity with a certain degree of shame. Shame is an important and useful means of social control - but too often, sex has been scapegoated as the sole source of shame. While Muslim's are uptight about showing a little wrist, we're uptight about showing a little nipple. The only restriction on men is to keep their equipment in the hanger, until NASA (er, women), give them the go ahead for launch, usually in a non-public context.

    Somewhere in our evolutionary heritage, we developed self-consciousness about nudity as we lost body hair. But this tends to manifest itself most greatly as part of organized religious social traditions that are often more restrictive of women, than they are of men. Some day we'll come out of the 12 million step program we have been in, and accept ourselves and each other as we are, clothed or not. Before then though, we'll probably see Muslims and the west unite in WWIV, against a common enemy - nudists.
    "The current American way of life is founded not just on motor transportation but on the religion of the motorcar, and the sacrifices that people are prepared to make for this religion stand outside the realm of rational criticism." -Lewis Mumford

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dobopoq
    I think it's questionable whether the modest dress actually achieves this goal of being less sexed up. Aside from the modest dress, my understanding is that women are discouraged from going out alone in public. So in addition to the habit (er, whatever you call it Burka is it? ), the women you'd see in it, are vastly outnumbered by males in public. This seems an overly harsh restriction on women's freedom, out of proportion to its supposed benefit.

    I have not been to a nude beach, although I've heard that in nudist communities, the prevalence of nudity actually diminishes people's obsession with it - the more they are around it.

    The bottom line for me is:

    1. I don't agree that sex is a bad thing, though I'm willing to entertain the possibility that reducing people's fixation upon it, may be beneficial in certain contexts.
    2. I disagree that only women have sexual attractiveness. And I disagree that they are/should be, passive with regard to their interest in men as sex objects.
    3. I think people should be free to go naked or shrouded as befits their choice of adaptation to temperature, regardless of social context.

    Dress is a spectrum. We should no more require nudity, than we should require total enshroudment in clothes. Both Muslims, and Westerners - in fact most cultures, regard nudity with a certain degree of shame. Shame is an important and useful means of social control - but too often, sex has been scapegoated as the sole source of shame. While Muslim's are uptight about showing a little wrist, we're uptight about showing a little nipple. The only restriction on men is to keep their equipment in the hanger, until NASA (er, women), give them the go ahead for launch, usually in a non-public context.

    Somewhere in our evolutionary heritage, we developed self-consciousness about nudity as we lost body hair. But this tends to manifest itself most greatly as part of organized religious social traditions that are often more restrictive of women, than they are of men. Some day we'll come out of the 12 million step program we have been in, and accept ourselves and each other as we are, clothed or not. Before then though, we'll probably see Muslims and the west unite in WWIV, against a common enemy - nudists.
    Oh I quite agree with much you say. I don't believe that men in this country, or any other, necessarily obsess constantly about sex. There is, however, much in our culture that encourages males' thoughts to stray in this direction. Women's dress is one of things that can encourage this. Take, for example the photo below:



    Now, some folks might conclude that the young lady in the photo is trying to draw male attention because she's wearing a sparkly necklace. Yes, the necklace is very pretty, but it should not necessarily encourage us to associate the beautiful cosmetic qualities of her jewelry with sexual attraction. She is merely expressing her individuality and perhaps feels the bauble in some way reflects qualities about her character and value as a human being. I say more power to her. We all need to be a lot less hung up about sexual issues! Heck, I think she should go all out and wear some nice dangly earings too. Wonderful adornments - but remember ornaments are not everything.














    okay, I'll come up with a serious response later.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian
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    Is that picture photoshopped? If not... poor thing... any bigger and she'll float to the stratosphere. I pity the fools who believe that think that they need ballons to catch the attention of males.

    Now to make this post a bit less inane.

    Hiding everything and showing off everything is bad. Hiding everything would equate to sexual repression and vice versa. The mean is always the best...

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    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SkeLeton
    Is that picture photoshopped? If not... poor thing... any bigger and she'll float to the stratosphere.
    Why do you think she has her arm against the tree? She's bracing herself from falling over.

    As dobopoq mentioned that some women in those countries show a little wrist, doesn't that incite the same reaction as would, in the west, a woman who dresses similiar to Maister's photo? I just see it as being relative as far as what excites the opposite sex, rendering the whole covering idea invalid.

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    Cyburbian natski's avatar
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    How about letting Women show off and be proud of the sexuality?

    Not neccesarily dress- but even something so simple like hair. I feel that a woman's hair can be extremely sexy, and i dont think i speak for myself when saying if your having a good hair day, you feel on top of the world, sexy and attractive.

    I dont know how they go without that feeling.
    "Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?" Zoolander

  9. #9
    I find that modest head scarves can be quite alluring. A little mystery coupled with the ladies fashion sensibilities.

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    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    While I deplore the way many muslum countries treat their women, I do realize each culture must define their own standards.

    However, that doesn't justify stoning a woman who doesn't wear a full cover. Call her a slut and leave her alone.

    Most people think about sex a fair amount and it doesn't seem to be affected by outside factors such as what the opposite sex is wearing.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dobopoq
    I don't agree that sex is a bad thing, though I'm willing to entertain the possibility that reducing people's fixation upon it, may be beneficial in certain contexts.
    I don't think any of the A-list religions of the world consider sex to be a 'bad thing'. Rather, I think it's the preoccupation with sex that's bad.

    The average male spends about eight hours of his life experiencing orgasm. When you consider all the time, energy, money, thought, posturing, and grief that goes into the pursuit of this elusive pleasure, cultivating dwarf shrubs suddenly seems a far more satisfying hobby.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister
    http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/data/527/not_modest.JPG

    okay, I'll come up with a serious response later.
    Wow, that image is unreal. Certainly made my day! How is it possible to have breasts that large? Each one is as big as her head! That was a unique find, Maister. Thanks for sharing!

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    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    But if Muslum men can't function without their women being completely swathed in black cloth, and other men from other cultures can manage to run companies, make great art, run the free world despite more scantily clad women--
    Isn't it a weakness of the muslum men?
    Since they're so weak relative to everyone else in the world, THEY should be locked in their homes for protection. Let muslum women run the community. Why are the women locked away and punished because of a weakness of the men? Learn some personal discipline like everyone else in the world.
    Last edited by CosmicMojo; 02 Mar 2006 at 1:20 PM.

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    [QUOTE=Maister]The last couple decades have seen a resurgence in the popularity of 'modest dress' in many Muslim countries, particularly among younger women.

    What I find interesting in having observed muslim people in the city that I live in, is that women are covered from head to toe, but the men that they are with are wearing jeans, and nike ball caps. So who's emulating western culture?

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