Monday, August 15, 2011

the subjugation of womyn...

after an enjoyable gathering of friends at my place on saturday - which of course meant lots of food, lots of wine - champagne cocktails were on the menu too thanks to kirsty - and plenty of conversation - i was feeling a tad 'green' yesterday - so my plan was simple - i wasn't moving from the couch! even blogging wasn't on the agenda because the brain was a bit 'fuzzy'...

however, i checked my emails to find i'd received a petition to support a womon's right to wear the burqa... now to me the burqa is a tool of female oppression within a patriarchal culture encompassing the misogynistic tradition of womon as chattel, so i went online, and after reading copious amounts of differing versions of the origins of this garment (along with varying names and the many variations of the garment itself) i ended up viewing a slideshow entitled 'the canvas prison' showing the use of the burqa in the systematic subjugation of womyn in afghanistan under the fanatically brutal regime of the taliban ('ousted' in 2001- unfortunately it appears that karzai maintains links to the taliban and has close ties to iran - another brutally misogynistic regime - so a change in power doesn't appear to have resulted in change for womyn!) ... here's that slideshow...



after viewing these images, i then followed some other links and ended up on an australian website called 'the punch' - "The Punch is for every Australian with a passion for debate. We'll feature some of the nation's best writers and biggest names discussing current events in politics, entertainment, sport, business and more." 

it was here that i came across an article "the truth behind the burqa" written by jacqueline pascarl (aussies might remember her as jacqueline gillespie) - it's an impassioned, enlightened and intelligent article of which this is just an extract...

"The common, misinformed perception is that Muslim women mostly wear the burqa to express their religious devotion.  

Frankly, I’ve lived on both sides of this debate, and I would like to put the record straight once and for all as I was instructed during my time in a moderately strict Islamic society - to wear a burqa, hijab or headscarf during daily life is not prescribed specifically anywhere in the Koran – it is not wajib (mandatory and prescribed by the Koran), but only sunat (recommended culturally).

As a royal princess in an Islamic country (Malaysia), and originally hailing from Australia, I was required, after my marriage, to undertake four years of Islamic study under the tutelage of the Royal Household’s Iman and religious teacher.  We used text books primarily sourced from Pakistan and Egypt which had been specially printed in English for converts to Islam, as well as long tracts of the Koran and my tutor’s own knowledge and interpretations as he was a respected scholar nationally. 

These twice weekly classes over four years, were never undertaken between myself and my teacher without the presence of my servants, or another royal lady who acted as chaperones – not for my chastity or purity, but, as the Iman explained to me, for his!  He truly believed that I, or any woman, could not be trusted in the lone company of a male without the baser instincts of the female gender coming to the fore.

According to these books, I was to learn that it was fine for a husband to beat his wife as long as he didn’t mark her face, I was to ascertain that female circumcision was not mandatory or even mentioned in the Koran, that it is a cultural practice only. However, the father who does instigate the excision of the clitoris of his female child will be rewarded in heaven – this again, I stress, was not mentioned anywhere in the Koran, but simply extrapolated from cultural musings of a scholarly nature. That abhorrent undertaking is about control of women and tempering their sensuality – it has nothing to do with religion and I have yet to meet any Australian Iman who would say otherwise.

I was taught scores of things by the Royal Iman, the beauty of many tracts of the Koran, the cadence of the Arabic language; but much of the teachings, as opposed to the Koran itself, were strictly cultural and archaic, rather than the pure religious teachings of the Koran.  I learnt that the primary reason women are required by Islamic societies (the majority of which are patriarchal) to swathe themselves in fabrics and cover their collar bones, necks, arms, legs, ankles, calves, chests, elbows, shoulders, throats, thighs, ears, napes of necks, hair and in some cases, faces, is that women are culturally condemned to the roll of seductress and are considered untrustworthy, immoral humans, driven to tempt men and bring down the bastions of male self-control. The fine shape of an ankle, or a tendril of hair – a glimpse of which can send a mere male into a sexual frenzy, are the tools of seduction.  In essence and to outline it crudely – the veil, much lauded by so called Islamic teachings, is a protection for men against we voracious vixens of the mortal world. Not, as so many pundits state, a protection for women against men.

Even culturally, under the Islamic teachings I studied and with which I was indoctrinated, not one stanza exhorted a man to order his woman to cover her face – everything else, yes, but to wend her way along streets covered in a tent with only slits for her vision was never mentioned...."

this led me to jacqueline's blog - although it hasn't been updated since January, nonetheless she has some interesting posts to read on a number of topics...



i also checked out rawa's (revolutionary association of the women of afghanistan) website - they were mentioned in the slideshow and have been active in the fight for womyn's rights and social justice since 1977... the short biography on rawa's founding leader, meena, murdered in 1987 is worth the read ...


no, i haven't changed my view on the burqa (unless you call firmly cementing my already-held-belief a change) - i certainly won't be signing that petition to aid the oppression of womyn...

5 comments:

Sailor Lily said...

interesting blog mate; this debate is one I struggle with, having chatted to veiled women who swear that they're empowered and making a choice. But if your cultural context and the messages of female indentity you were raised on determine the a 'norm' that is in truth an act of subjugation, how is it a choice? Similarly I've met powerful 'older women' who think nothing of filling themselves with injected fat, abrading thier skin with what is in efect an orbital sander or having 'elective' surgery to cut into their breasts to 'enhance' them. Women can be enslaved in so many brutal and normalized ways eh?
But peronsally I hate the veil, be it for the symbolic attire of weddings, for nuns, or for a life seen through black slits.

lily.

Proud Womon said...

i agree totally with everything you've said...

i abhor the so-called 'enhancements' that are far too common in western society...

i also abhor the genital mutilations performed on young girls - and young boys! and i'm pretty sure you already know my views on 'religious trappings' and patriarchal religion in general...

if only we were allowed to be proud of ourselves as we are...

sigh......

Trout Mask Replicant said...

Very insightful post. You may enjoy the wisdom wednesday posts on my own blog, twoheadedboys.blogspot.com

Leann said...

Wow - really powerful. I will spend some time checking out the links!

I remember in my Women & World History class in college we spend a lot of time reading about Islamic culture. We had a guest speaker, a women from Iran who had fled to the US and was seeking assylum. She told us she wore the veil to feel safe. She stated that she stopped wearing it when she came to the US and hated the way men treated her without it. She started wearing it again and stated that the one thing she hated was Western feminists coming to her country to tell her how she should live her life. She was a very powerful speaker - but over the years I have wondered if she still feels the same after living in a society without the male influences she had lived with for so long.

Proud Womon said...

thanks leann - there are many strong womyn within the islamic culture - i certainly don't 'look down on them' for wearing the veil - i abhor the patriarchal culture where this practice originated - and there are many similarities between judaism, christianity and islam - and all of these 'religions' are patriarchal... even some catholic nuns ('brides of christ') found it hard to come out from behind their very similar garb when 'modernity' caught up with the religion... and then there's the orthodoxy of judaism that enforces married womyn to cover all of their (sexually enticing) hair... the list goes on an on regarding strictures placed on womyn which means the problem lies squarely with patriarchal, misogynistic culture...

i'm heading on over to check out your blog soon 'cause i noticed you've written some more...


and to troutmaskreplicant (or is that twoheadedboys or wisdom wednesday?) - such an eclectic range of things on the blog - how many actually author it? i did have a check out but found some things i couldn't deal with but others were interesting to say the least... perhaps you need a blog of your own? wisdom wednesday has a lot of intelligence there - i think you might have a lot to say (although i couldn't quite grasp what direction you were aiming for), but no so the other members of your blog... maybe some of them are two headed boys!!!!