Tag Archives: modesty

The French War On Religious Freedom

France has long held a ban on overt expressions of religion in public, being one of the first European countries to have banned full face covering in public in 2010. While similar laws have gained traction in neighboring countries, following the tragic Bastille Day massacre in Cannes a number of French coastal towns have passed ordinances banning the “burkini”, a swimsuit for conservative Muslim women.

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No, not that one. That’s a wet suit.

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No, that’s also a wet suit.

Muslim Lifesavers Unveil The 'Burqini'

There we go.

But I’m guessing you can see the problem already. Continue reading

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Covering the Hijab at the Rio Olympics

Past weeks have seen the internet come to blows over pictures from a women’s volleyball game between Germany and Egypt. This picture:

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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…

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…to open propaganda.

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“Because I, from the comfort of my armchair, know this athlete’s situation better than she does.” -Idiot Commentor

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…

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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:

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Now I seriously debated putting that picture up, but as cringingly uncomfortable as it is, I think it speaks volumes about our culture. Continue reading

In Defence of the Dress Code

There are so many things I hate about dress codes. I hate that they usually target girls and their sexuality, implying that a) if girls don’t cover their bodies boys will have no choice but to “lust” after them and b) a girl’s sexuality is something to fear. I hate that they imply that a woman’s character is based on her level of purity.

I hate that they become an opportunity for grown men to ogle young girls in order to better police what those young girls should wearI hate that they project gender roles onto young people. I hate that they go hand in hand with body- shaming young girls just when their bodies have started to change and they are still learning how to deal with those changes.

In contrast, I love seeing young women standing up for themselves on social media with hashtags like #IAmNotAnObject, #MyBodyMyBusiness, and #MoreThanADistraction. I love seeing them reclaim their bodies as their own, rather than some grown (or young) man’s fantasy. I love seeing them call out our education systems for continuing to prioritize boys over girls. I love seeing them call out the innate sexism at the centre of most dress codes Continue reading

Michelle Obama, Cultural Norms, and Making A Statement

You should all know by now that I’m one of the last people to be up to speed on current events in the political sphere. Having said that, I do pay attention to the news in my Facebook sidebar, which is how I found out that three days ago Michelle Obama joined her significant other on his trip to Saudi Arabia to pay respects to the recently deceased King Abdullah.

Oh yeah, and she also didn’t wear a head covering of any kind.

Now look, before we really dive into this I should probably remind everyone that being the spouse of a world leader is no cakewalk. To pick just one example out of many, Michelle Obama [referred to by full name to avoid confusion] announced the Best Picture winner at the 2013 Oscars. This prompted Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin to share that:

“There is a sense of going too far and too much and becoming so ubiquitous that people don’t consider you something special. She is the first lady for goodness sakes. She’s not just a Hollywood celebrity.”

It’s a statement which . . . okay, it’s ridiculous. I would explore that further, especially the comment about the inherent celebrity within the status of POTUS and all related to the person in that role, but I just wanted to illustrate the fact that Michelle Obama is under a lot of scrutiny all of the time about everything. Continue reading

The Problem with Purity (When Christian Values Distract from the Message)

I wore a purity ring throughout my teens. It was pretty easy to honour the contract I associated with that ring because I only dated once during that time and pretty well never saw my boyfriend outside of a group setting.

When I started having more complex relationships in my 20’s I suddenly began to realize that “purity” was a more complex idea than I first thought. At what point was I “giving myself away”? Did I need to Kiss Dating Goodbye if I wanted to hold to this contract ( a topic Evan has touched on in previous posts)? Or did I just push the line as far as I could, as long as I could “technically” tell people I was still a virgin (a practice Elisa critiqued in a past post)?

As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to a couple different conclusions about the purity culture trend than what I first believed. I don’t want to make it seem like all sexual restraint needs to be thrown out the window. I do, however, want to take a look at some unpleasant consequences of the purity movement, and consider why they came about.

Continue reading

Culture War Correspondence: Cultural Sensitivity

GORDON: Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening. Our topic for tonight comes to us from the distant country of Sri Lanka, where a British woman has been deported for transgressing local standards of cultural and religious sensitivity… as a result of having a tattoo of Buddha on her arm…


KAT: Wow. Remind me to get my tattoo removed.

GORDON: You sport the Buddha on yourself?

KAT: Nah, it’s all just wishful thinking. I’m far too broke to have any ink.

(On textbooks)

Continue reading

Caring About Staring

At the risk of having my Friday posts sound like pleas for others to drop some of their well-thought-out opinions on me, I’ve recently been struggling with yet another issue.

I’m going to introduce it by letting you watch the video below [you don’t have to see the whole thing], which I shared on the blog’s Facebook page almost exactly a month ago:

The question I posed to fans of the page was what the actual point of it was. I mean, yes, it’s pretty funny witnessing how flustered guys got, but why exactly? Is the humour in that they were caught staring, or in that their expectations were subverted? If it’s the latter then the discussion becomes one of whether or not their collective gaze was not only normal, but logical. Continue reading