Sunday, July 09, 2006

Fun in the Sun

Tagged as:

I thought I would write at least once in awhile during the past two weeks, but I did not. Why didn’t I? I cut the tip of a very important typing finger, and it hurt to type. Oh yeah, I also went to a friend’s wedding in a normally cold country that was in the grips of its three-week summer so it was sunny and gorgeous every day so we went to the beach and swam in the ocean and I actually wore a bikini in front of men and women and little children and big and small dogs and was still one of the most covered up women on the beach. I rode a bicycle, wore a summer dress, and spoke freely and openly with everyone. I slept a lot. I drank a lot less than I do in Iran, but I drank good wine and good beer instead of the staples available to us here. Friends returned from Greece with homemade red wine. They were excited about it, but I told them I had had enough homemade wine in the past few years.

I returned with Iran Air. Once again, I did not want to get on the plane, but then, once on, I had fun. I sat next to an ex-pat Iraqi family whose parents have taken refuge in Iran. Their parents are too scared to travel back to Baghdad. They like Iran. In the row next to ours was a couple who had not been in Iran for 15 years. They were beaming. Excited to see family and eat Iran’s famous sheep’s head and foot soup (calepache). (Talk about foot in mouth…) When we were just above Tehran, the man leaned to look out the window and shouted: “There is calepache everywhere in this city!” We landed to a great burst of applause from the passengers.

Everyone was covered up while we were still in the airport. I did not wear my headscarf until we landed. Soon, many of the women had taken theirs off as well. Iran Air is often carrying people who have not been in Iran in years and years. Those women cover every strand of hair on their heads: not from religious passion, but from fear.

The cold European country was filled with women in hijab: all of whom would be arrested in Iran for bad hijab. Hijab, as I have said before, is all about fashion. Moroccan women, for instance, wear tight-fitting scarves, form-fitted to their hair, and tied behind their necks. Then they wear long skirts, with tight tops, lots of jewelry and fashionable shoes. They look great. Why? Because, as so many Muslim evangelists tell me, hijab is a signal that the woman’s body is not part of the social discourse: it’s all about respect. Hijab is supposed to protect women from prying eyes and sexual violence, but I very much doubt that it does any of those things. Talk to any man: western or eastern: they are obsessed with women in hijab.

Hijab makes the women’s body the center of social discourse: all it does is eroticize the body. I’ll tell you what takes women’s bodies out of social discourse: it’s thousands of topless women at the beach.

More on hijab:
The Veil: Resistance or Repression?

Scarf and Make-up: the Modern Face of Islam

Women in Islam, veiled oppression or stigmatized misconception

A Pearl In Its Shell

Arab Feminists on Women's Rights: Cats and Dogs in the Developed World Have More Rights than Women in the Arab and Muslim World


David Mohammad Yaghoobi said...

I wrote a little on this subject myself after meeting an possibly interesting gentleman at the Tehran Book Fair:

"Referring to an earlier moment where a ladies headscarf caught on the shelving thus exposing her hair, our incumbent [Islamic student] stated that this is forgivable, yet, if done intentionally she would be perverting society and must ask god for forgiveness. At that time my concerns lay with the well-being of the visitor yet our Islamic student seemed concerned that he would have bad thoughts and possibly have the desire to kiss her, thus corrupting society."

sunrunner said...

This is an interesting post. I had similar experiences flying into Riyadh, KSA in the 90's. As the plane got ready to land, women would begin hauling out the abayas, niqabs, and head scarfs to prepare to enter the airport.

And I think you are right, the obsession with hijab does focus everyone's attention on the female body. Everyone's, esp the religious police who are constantly checking women over very carefully to insure that they are properly covered. Its like being visually undressed....

That said, there were some occaisions when I was in Iran in the 70s in which I wore a chador -- as a sign of respect when in places/areas in which it was simply tradition . . . and never felt as though it was an "erotic" thing (sort of like dressing up to go to church). The mullahs changed all that.

Anonymous said...


Oh I think I got the blog wrong ;) u'r obviously not muslim since running around naked in front of strangers - male and female is pretty...low-level I'd say. I wear Hijab and to clear a nice misconception: I wear it because I think its RIGHT, and not because anybody talked me into it, I mean who would that be anyway? Since my whole family is non-muslim.

But I have to say, I dislike the fatwa-guys who love to give rulings on female-muslim-dresses and clothing, if it were for them, we would be tied up in our house as servants, but that is NOT what Islam is all about ! Just see the firts wife of the Prophet Muhammad(saw) Khadija: She was a merchant and traveld a lot!

I too want an eduction, and as a German-Girl its just natural for me to get one (because thats what I've always been taught - to get a decent education), so I am Insha Allah gonna start my Bachelor of Computer sciene in October 2006. And my husband is happy & supporting me to the greatest extend (an dhe is NOT German !) He himself is working in a Software-Companies si at home we dont talk about the latest recipes or what to have for dinner, but we have conversations about HTML, PHP or C+, which is nice, for I am probably not made for the whole household-role. My husband even cooks most of the time, since I am a total desaster when it comes to cooking ;-).
Oh... I am just noticing that I greatly disgressed from the topic... seems like I am abusing this comment function for my own blog-purposes ;) .

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.