At last a journalist who understands what a real feminist is

Being an old-fashioned feminist it frustrates me beyond measure when the Media portray submission and control as feminism and choice. They only have this blind spot when it comes to Islam as they are quick to attack ultra-conservative Christian groups for their treatment of women and for how the women dress.

Journalist Peter Dournauf in his opinion piece discusses whether or not a niqab is a way to fight against the objectification of women and I just want to clap my hands and yell out “BRAVO”at the end of it. I have reproduced it in full because it simply is that good. He calls a spade a bloody shovel and the honesty and lack of political correctness is a breath of fresh air.

OPINION: I’m not too hung up about what women wear. My preference is for stylish, but that’s just me. If they want to have small bits of shiny metal dangling down from the insides of their nose so they look like they’ve forgotten to blow, go ahead. If they want to walk around with cardboard boxes over their heads, be my guest.. But don’t tell me that wearing a niqab is for feminist reasons. Please! This is just too much. It is plainly perverse.

But believe it or not this is the sort of verbal contortion that Iranian Donna Miles-Mojab indulged in recently here in New Zealand to rationalise, what is otherwise the very opposite of that which might resemble anything to do with women’s liberation.

That she could have said, with a straight face that wearing the niqab (the head garment that only allows the eyes to be visible) was a rejection of “the objectification of women and the manufactured views of beauty and liberty”, beggars belief.

Or perhaps on a moment’s reflection it doesn’t stretch credulity too far because we have all become familiar with the employment of weasel words from the religious fraternity who are particularly adroit at turning black into white and vice versa. It’s about as absurd as saying that female genital mutilation is a strike against pornography.

Now we all want to be tolerant little soldiers in the West and accept customs, traditions and practices from others cultures and religions divergent from our own; but oppression needs to be called by its right name. And to attempt to dress it up in terms that appropriate the very thing it is the opposite of, is a bridge way too far. It is plain dishonest and underhand.

What gives the game away in this whole duplicitous scenario is the fact that men are not required to cover up in the culture. We have a glaring double standard here which exposes the whole shoddy set up. If men too were obliged, like the women, to cover their faces and bodies in the same way, I could accept and approve of the consistency, see the point of the equally applied prescription, even while shaking my head at the juvenile and puritanical infantilism of it all.

That the rule doesn’t apply across the board speaks volumes. One tends to find the same situation in fundamentalist religious cult-like communities where the men make the rules and the women are treated like children or worse, told what to wear, what to do and not do while the males are free to come and go as they like.

In fact all the various draconian impositions placed on Muslim women – not allowed out of the house unaccompanied, not allowed to drive a car (it will damage their ovaries), not allowed to vote, open a bank account, get medical treatment without the approval of a man, have the distinct flavour of treating a woman as some kind of possession. One couldn’t get a better example of objectification than that. Likewise, woman as chattel goes with the practice of polygamy, or polyandry to be exact, (one husband many wives), practiced in the Muslim Middle East, another tell-tale sign of male domination, which often accompanies the wearing of the niqab.

There is nothing worse than oppression masquerading as liberation. It is the ultimate betrayal. A so-called ‘feminist’ in a niqab is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The real feminists are documented by Mona Eltahawy in her book, “Headscarves and Hymens”, where she speaks of discovering that the Middle East had a real and genuine feminist heritage, and quotes Huda Shaarawi, who launched an Egyptian woman’s rights movement, inaugurating it in 1923 by publicly removing her face veil in Cairo all that time ago.

What Miles-Mojab is doing with her ‘feminist’ take on a symbol of female subjugation is trying to pour honey over an unpleasant and unpalatable dish. This kind of makeover has devious expediency written all over it. Her Orwellian double speak is nothing but humbug and cant, a gross exploitation and perversion of something good forced into the service of something dubious and shady. This whitewash just doesn’t wash.

– Stuff


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