Past weeks have seen the internet come to blows over pictures from a women’s volleyball game between Germany and Egypt. This picture:
Now where most sane folks would see a simple game of beach volleyball, the denizens of the interwebs have managed to read in some fantasy about a clash of cultures- “the free and civilized West against the superstitious, primitive savages of the East.” Comment sections have been flooded with everything from sarcastic half-jokes…
…to open propaganda.
There’s been snide comment after comment directed not at Doaa Elghobashy’s performance in the game, not towards her assertion that what she wears is her own damn business, not towards her teammate (Nada Meawad) who doesn’t wear a hijab…
And I think it’s because people aren’t actually angry about any of that.
For all the sanctimony, the issue at hand seems not to be with mandates or even just pressure to wear the hijab. It has nothing to do with standing up for women- on the contrary. I do think that the extreme contrast between Elghobashy and her German counterparts hit a nerve that most people didn’t realize they had. I think it does forced folks to ask themselves some truly uncomfortable questions about why they actually watch the sport.
I’m talking about this:
Now I seriously debated putting that picture up, but as cringingly uncomfortable as it is, I think it speaks volumes about our culture.
Now these blocks show just how little female volleyball athletes get to wear, and that in and of itself should spur us to action. I commend these ladies for having the guts to head out there in front of millions and play a sport, but I can honestly say that I don’t know anyone– man or woman- who would be comfortable wearing so little. For ****’s sake, picking the formfitting volleyball “uniform” out of one’s butt cheeks has become so ubiquitous that it’s become something a joke, even to the point where it eclipses the sport itself.
But let’s be real here- that’s not why those boxes are there.
Those black boxes are there to give someone the impression that these ladies, as little as they’re wearing, aren’t wearing anything. Because for so many at home and abroad, these ladies aren’t athletes, they’re eye candy. They exist not be admired but to be leered at. And yes, this is an issue that affects men as well…
…but it’s definitely women who are getting the brunt of it.
No, I don’t think Elghobashy wore her hijab and uniform to challenge that issue but I do think that’s been the result. Her presence on that court as an athlete, not an object, got folks feeling so guilty that the only recourse was to start up some self-righteous tirade about the objectification of women. Nothing hypocritical about that at all.
I mean, nobody is talking about the Muslim players who don’t wear hijabs.
Or the Western Muslim players who do.
<Cough> I mean, objectification of women in other countries. Because when the West objectifies a woman, it’s party of our culture of freedom and when anyone else does it, it’s because they’re backwards savages. Because if there’s one thing we enlightened Westerners won’t tolerate, it’s those monsters who tell women what they can and can’t wear. Except for us- we can do that, and any woman who disagrees with us is clearly just an indoctrinated shill who can’t think for herself:
And yes, there are women out there who are pressured and even commanded to wear the hijab. And that’s absolute repellent and should be condemned and combated whenever and wherever it appears.
But even then I have the sneaking suspicion that these ***holes will find some reason to complain.
All images retrieved via Imgur.com and Tumblr.com – Fair Use