Sex and the City and Muslim women

By Asma T. Uddin and Sarah Jawaid We haven’t watched “Sex and the City 2“, as we cannot get ourselves … Continued

By Asma T. Uddin and Sarah Jawaid

We haven’t watched “Sex and the City 2“, as we cannot get ourselves to devote that much time to what, according to many commentaries, will insult our female Muslim sensibilities. According to these commentaries, the movie perpetuates stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed, silent, and subdued by their apparently necessary counterpart: the violent, angry Muslim man. The four women in SATC2 flaunt their sexual openness, befuddled by the covered, seemingly asexual Muslim woman.

It appears to us, from reading these commentaries, that the movie’s portrayal of Muslim gender issues is problematic, not just because it’s stereotypical and condescending, but also because it is downright false. As one writer explains, SATC2 – which was filmed in Morocco but is supposed to take place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – gets several things wrong about Emirati women. Included among these is that women in the UAE tend to be more educated than the men there, with women constituting 60 percent of enrollments at post-secondary educational institutions. Emirati women are also increasingly assuming positions of power, with women taking 60 percent of government positions, including 23 percent of UAE’s parliamentary seats. Admittedly, the UAE has much to do before women are fully integrated in the country’s labor market, but SATC2′s portrayal of the subordinated Emirati woman is nevertheless grossly out of touch with reality.

Another, perhaps more compelling, inaccuracy is SATC2′s assumption that the covered Muslim woman is less “free” or independent than her Western counterpart by virtue of her modest clothes. Though the movie does, in a much discussed scene, show Muslim women throwing off their burqas to reveal designer clothes underneath, the assumption remains that the public display of modesty is somehow contrary to liberation.

As one of us discussed in a recent program on National Public Radio, “Modesty and Faith Connected in Many Religions”, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Covering up often means embracing a paradigm that celebrates female sexuality. Modesty voluntarily undertaken (as it in the UAE and, incidentally, in Morocco as well) is often employed by Muslim women to wield greater sexual prowess in the private realm. The burqa can achieve for some women precisely the sort of goal SATC is all about: female sexual independence. Without giving men easy access to the female body–whether physically or even visually–women keep their sexuality mysterious and compelling, helping them take control in private interactions with the opposite sex.

Creating a safe space for women to explore sexuality creates opportunities for identity formation unfettered by societal pressures. Without this chance to develop privately, female sexuality becomes cause of emotional weakness rather than taking its place as a source of power. The male-centric approach to sexuality in the West today pushes for an environment where women tread softly around commitment conversations and give way to casual sex as the most appropriate way to keep a man.

Because female sexuality isn’t as accessible in the Muslim world, men in these parts are more likely to pursue Muslim women on the women’s terms. Understanding, and highlighting, that critical aspect of the Muslim gender dynamic would have added to SATC’s celebration of women and their sexual self-expression. Instead of being befuddled by the seemingly asexual Muslim woman, the women of SATC2 would have been better off extending their bonds of sisterhood and learning some surprising secrets.

Sarah Jawaid is Associate Editor of altmuslimah.com

About

  • Navin1

    Voluntary modesty, cool.I think the argument of the author should be placed to muslim men. Wouldn’t their sexuality be better developed if they had to wear a bag? Certainly any show of wealth, ie a car, jewelry, title, etc would impede the development of male female interactions and so let us do away with names and inheritance laws. Certainly women in islamic nations would prefer men who don’t have to play certain western masculine roles or oppose such western roles. In fact, let us make mating a random event so that each of us learns to have depth of understanding of the goodness of the soul in each of us without trappings of dress, costume, wealth, power, gender, ethnicity…Actually, the more random events we have, the greater will be our understanding that each of us have a great depth of spiritual force and each should be respected in their own way.Finally, of course, if we all had sex with each other without any identity (gender or otherwise) we would have to assume that all the world’s children are ours and so we would increase the spiritual love in the world. Oh wait, my main man who can legally beat me up for wearing the wrong clothes is calling to me to make sure my expressions are truly representing what he, I mean, I think. come on!By the way, despite what I heard of how Allah hates infidels, I still read the Koran (and yes it was true, he does hate me). You may choose to be offended before you explore a fictional perspective, or you might notice your closed mindedness to be willing to judge a work of fiction (as if it was a fact book) that you have chosen not to see.hariaum

  • Arif2

    any religion that segregates it’s sexes as soon as their women show the slightest sign of maturity produces unnatural societies. Men and women of Islamic societies are sexually stunted. Islams prophet was a sick man who’s sexual perversion manifests itself to this day. Muslims are unnaturally sexually starved and therefore stunted. Sorry but that is the truth.

  • AKafir

    “Because female sexuality isn’t as accessible in the Muslim world, men in these parts are more likely to pursue Muslim women on the women’s terms.”It is obvious that neither Asma nor Sarah has lived in Muslim country for any length of time. Women’s terms in Muslim societies is for most women survival and resignation. Very few women among the elite classes with powerul fathers and husbands may have some “terms” to fall back on. When Allah of Islam sanctions men to beat women if the men merely fear desertion or inobedience, it is nearly impossible for ordinary women to have any real meaningful “terms” in Islamic countries.

  • yasseryousufi

    Kafir writes,It is obvious that neither Asma nor Sarah has lived in Muslim country for any length of time.Women’s terms in Muslim societies is for most women survival and resignation. Very few women among the elite classes with powerul fathers and husbands may have some “terms” to fall back on. When Allah of Islam sanctions men to beat women if the men merely fear desertion or inobedience, it is nearly impossible for ordinary women to have any real meaningful “terms” in Islamic countries. ——————————————Its obvious Kafir hasn’t lived outside his native India hence his stupid ignorant comments. Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh and Indonesia the four biggest muslim countries have ELECTED women as their heads of state. How many women have led their countries in US and France so called flag bearers of liberal democracies?Having said that, I am not surprised they are making this movie. The Jews have a vested interest in misinterpreting Muslims/Arabs and Islam in general so that they can justify their treatment and occupation of Palestinians. They inundate the American Media and News agencies and have strong links with Israel and Zionism. Most of the leading cast and its executive producers are Jewish and they will no doubt put their share in maligning muslims to further the cause of Israeli’s.

  • yasseryousufi

    farnaz_mansouri2,I don’t think you can imagine. —————————————-Well looks like you just had to respond for the sake of it even though you didn’t have anything meaningful to say. As always the war of perception is going on alongside the real war. SATC2 has just played a cheap trick to capitalize on its popularity among americans and demonize arab culture. If they do a bit of research on the Ultra Orthodox Right Wing Jews of Israel, their treatment of women is not much different from this false stereo-type.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    Well looks like you just had to respond for the sake of it even though you didn’t have anything meaningful to say. As always the war of perception is going on alongside the real war. SATC2 has just played a cheap trick to capitalize on its popularity among americans and demonize arab culture. If they do a bit of research on the Ultra Orthodox Right Wing Jews of Israel, their treatment of women is not much different from this false stereo-type.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    Sisters,I absolutely object to burqas on the streets of America. There is a difference between modesty and insanity.As for the Sex and the City 2, who cares. There are enough serious problems with media representation of Jews and Muslims for me to concern myself about silly nonsense like this.I never saw Sex and the City 1. Why would you?

  • yasseryousufi

    Well looks like you just had to respond for the sake of it even though you didn’t have anything meaningful to say. As always the war of perception is going on alongside the real war. SATC2 has just played a cheap trick to capitalize on its popularity among americans and demonize arab culture. If they do a bit of research on the Ultra Orthodox Right Wing Jews of Israel, their treatment of women is not much different from this false stereo-type.**************************************I am talking about the subject of this post. What are you talking about?

  • schnauzer2

    Rather than fake some outrage at the supposed content of a movie from other peoples comments, why don’ty you go watch the actual movie. If we only listen to the comentaries and not make our own opinions based on first hand knowledge we just become sheep. I remember when the Lion King first came out, all the critics panned it as silly, pointless and dull, and i do believe there was some comments about it being offensive to some culture or another as well. I personally couldn’t stand the show so definitely didn’t see the first movie or intend on seeing the second, but before you castigate a movie as offensive and blog about it, you really should see it yourself and form your own opinion if you want anyone to take you seriously.

  • watchmaker

    Wow, can I get paid to write a column about a movie I never saw? I’ve got lots of material…

  • AKafir

    YasserYousufi: “Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh and Indonesia the four biggest muslim countries have ELECTED women as their heads of state. How many women have led their countries in US and France so called flag bearers of liberal democracies?”Unfortunately that is not a sign of liberation of women but of the feudal state of the societies in those countries. The women you cite all came because of their father or husband status and who were not their to assume the mantle of leadership. Do you really think for a second that a woman stands a chance in the arab middle east? In turkey, as the islamist gain power again, and as the secular Kemal attaturkist fade, the role of women in turkey will recede back into being subservient.

  • Ombudsman1

    “Covering up often means embracing a paradigm that celebrates female sexuality. “When the author of this drivel claims to be an attorney, one must assume it was from the “Bin Laden School of the Blessed Infidel”.Putting a burlap sack on a woman may be woody material for people screwed up by taking the Koran seriously, but for the rest of the normal world, it’s so silly that you debase yourself trying to defend the indefensible.

  • leslieswearingen

    I agree with you. I am a western woman and a Roman Catholic and I dress modestly at home and in public.

  • dotellen

    The author hasn’t watched “Sex and the City 2″ and neither have I. However, my comment is that sweat pants are liberating. Covering yourself up with a stuffy, confining tent-like garment is not.

  • theRealCalGal

    A very interesting point about religious modesty in dress, but I dismiss anyone’s opinion about a movie if they HAVEN’T SEEN IT!

  • Holyelephant

    While I never intend to see this movie, and do not find it the least bit suprising that it is both culturally offensive and unwilling to explore complex gender issues, I think a prerequisite for writing this article, which is based entirely on such observations, should be watching the movie.

  • pkenjige

    I think it is the personal choice of a women! If she wants to wear a Burqa, let her.Again in India, Most christian women and girls wear a scarf while attending a church. ( sick people, especially if they have cold and fever wear a scarf too). No one says anything of that. When any attire is forced on someone, that is when people should object.

  • zap123

    The journalist wrote: According to these commentaries, the movie perpetuates stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed, silent, and subdued…Um, hello? Muslim women are not even allowed to drive a freaking CAR in Saudi Arabia!While I appreciate the spin, let’s just be honest with ourselves.

  • dccouple

    It’s interesting that the authors, trying to counter Western stereotypes of Muslim women, reveal shallow and incorrect stereotypes about Western romantic relationships. I regret Western insensitivity towards Muslim culture, but cultural understanding is a 2-way street.

  • jonsande

    The biggest problem I have with the author’s post is its insinuation that the Burka and its idea are derived from the woman herself. This can’t be true. The world Islam inhabits is that of a man, and the Burka is a device flowing from some sect’s beliefs and/or opinions about how women *should* be seen (or unseen, for that matter). Perhaps the fact that the woman is completely covered creates a powerful sexual allure fueled by curiosity and imagination, but that it strictly incidental to the main point of the Burka which is to keep women from showing themselves. I don’t believe the Burka is a sign of power; it’s a undeserved and anachronistic badge of inferiority that shouldn’t be rationalized.

  • presto668

    “Without giving men easy access to the female body–whether physically or even visually–women keep their sexuality mysterious and compelling, helping them take control in private interactions with the opposite sex.”I disagree. The problem is: men are pigs (and I say this as a man). By donning the burqa all you’re doing is transferring the burden of the problem from the men to the women. Instead of working to get the men to stop being pigs, you’re hiding yourselves away.

  • top2dogs

    “We haven’t watched “Sex and the City 2″, as we cannot get ourselves to devote that much time to what, according to many commentaries, will insult our female Muslim sensibilities.” An astonishing admission…one that utterly negates all that follows. Unbelievable that these two women can get their views published at all, much less in the WAPO…

  • jameschirico

    I for one am sick of hearing from “enlightened muslims talking about the goodness of their faith. The Roman Catholic spoke of how mid-east muslim governments have reduced the Christian population from 20% to 5% embracing the religious purges. Imagine the mainly Christian West expelling all of the muslim faith and not allowing their belief. Certainly a stronger argument against Islam can be made than against Christianity but we in the west have a higher moral standard regardless of the writers views on modesty.

  • jun030

    Is it there an “intellectual burqa”? Meaning, what the world would be like if women hided their soul and intellectual gifts under a imaginary burqa ?

  • momj47

    Any religion (or political belief) where men consider women as less than equal to them is bad at it’s core, whether it’s the Catholic Church, Islam, orthodox Jewish, one of the many Protestant denominations, etc, etc. Western religion has a terrible history, beginning with Adam and Eve, and it’s only gotten worse over the millennium. No other religion has done any better, or worse, than Christianity or Islam.No amount of justification can undo the horrors that have been committed against women by EVERY RELIGION, from darkest times past to the present. They are all hostile to women.

  • jph3

    Asma Uddin’s argument, that by donning a de-humanizing mask that renders one completely anonymous, Muslim women reassert control over their sexuality, is specious and merely politically correct sophistry.We only have to look at the situation of women in cultures where the burqa is mandated to dispel this absurd idea: this ‘modesty’ complex results in schoolgirls chastised with acid, rape victims stoned to death, and a lack of gynecological care that causes many unnecessary childbirth deaths.Women who ‘choose’ to wear this insidious garment do not stand in solidarity with their Muslim sisters, but rather they mock those less fortunate women who have the burqa forced upon them.

  • kevnet

    Dear WaPost editors:C’mon. You ran this after they admitted they didn’t even see the movie? Couldn’t suggest they go spend $10 and 2 hours of their time and see the movie first? Couldn’t hold this for an afternoon while they went to see the $%@#$ movie?Dear authors:I did not read past the first paragraph of your article. Once you give your readers the respect of actually being educated and informed on the subject on which you are writing, we, your readers, will extend you the same courtesy.

  • ExPatYankee

    “Modesty voluntarily undertaken”. That is the key. The women of SATC are pathetic cliches of Western women to be sure. But when genital mutilation, stoning for adultery, being shunned (and worse) for being raped, honor killings, or being hung for being gay become “voluntary”, than maybe you will have some credibility with me Ms. Uddin.

  • ChrisW1958

    It’s always amusing the hear people defending the Burqa, because for the majority of educated Muslim Women, it is a necessary evil that does nothing to stop them from being as fashion and style conscious as any western clothes horse. The varying degrees of modesty, according to practice in Islamic Countries, belies the fact that this is required by the Koran — far from it, the Koran says little about the degree of coverup, and maybe its about time to shift the blame to the Islamic male, who apparently is unable to control his urges. When Islamic authorities agree on what degree of coverup is allowed, then this is an arbitrary ruling that isolates, rather than frees, Islamic Women. Tell that to Saudi Princesses who on the street are appropriately garbed but in the privacy of their own homes, mingle with men in the latest Paris designer, revealing, fashions. Islam fails to understand that their hypocrisy which they profess more than their faith, is what leads the rest of us to consider it an underdeveloped religion.

  • fbcnova

    “What a convoluted, nonsensical rationalization of the implicitly repressive burqa!”HERE HERE!

  • anah

    Gosh nothing grinds my gears more than a review by someone who hasn’t seen the movie discussed. That being said, it would have been nice if the women of UAE would have stated that although they are progressive some of them enjoy the traditional aspects of their lives. Even though it may seem they are repressed there is a stregnth in their form of tradition. I just feel that they kinda thumbed their nose at their culture. Even though its conservative and not a traditional American view its not “bad” …just different.This is not a religious view. It’s specifically relating to the movie.

  • barnabytwist

    I sense the Stockholm Syndrome here.

  • chandragupta

    Any religion that rules a wife can be beaten up by the husband should not be tolerated in civilized societies. I am referring to 4:34 in the Koran. Instead of defending the burkha and the Islamic faith which oppresses women, Muslim women should strive for liberation and even staring a mass movement to leave Islam. No self-respecting woman should be a Muslim.

  • perryneheum

    Do the “women’s terms” include being stoned to death for “disobedience” ?

  • larmoecurl

    Who made the rules in the Muslim world?Muslim men did.Who in the Muslim world covers their heads and/or faces ?Muslim women do.Any questions?

  • shaheed-yahudi

    .

  • barnabytwist

    Whether it is cultural or religious, women in many Arab countries are far less free than women in the West. Women in ultra-orthodox Jewish households are also second-class citizens. Conservative Mormons treat their women like dirt, also. What we have is a situation in which all conservative members of the three Abrahamic faiths treat women like chattel. I wouldn’t wear a burka if my life depended on it. I would also not shave my head and wear a wig and sit in the back seat of a car. I would also not live in a compound where men controlled my children and my very life. Patriarchal religion is just that: an abomination to the women who believe. There have been great enlightenments in Judaism and Christianity. Islam and conservative Muslim countries need to catch up.

  • MSMisRightWing

    The burqa is a celebration of female sexuality, in the same way that Islam is a religion of peace.

  • Mags3

    While a believe that the burqa is indeed a symbol of paternalistic oppression, I must admit that on some days I would like nothing better than to throw one on to avoid having to put on my “public face”, thus avoiding the superficialities of clothing, make-up, and hair styles by which all females are immediately judged in this culture.

  • jameschirico

    Can these writers explain how when strict sharia was put upon Persian women (Turks and them being the most educated women in Islam) how the number of arranged marriages went up and how women not participating in the workforce has stunted the economy where it takes a man 3 add’l years to save enough to be married? If waiting longer to start a family, never marrying for love is liberating you will find a hard time convincing even the Ulema your defending.

  • timsiepel

    Men can be sexually attractive too, esp young handsome/beautiful ones. So why don’t men wear the burka too? Then they could be relieved of all those troubling stares, from those predatory women, and save their sexuality, for the privacy of their homes! How about, to be fair, just try it for one year, see how it feels, on some of those 120 deg days, try you know, laying up a stone wall, or digging a trench for a footer with one of those of those suckers on. Then after one year, have a big burka conference, and take a vote, and either everybody wears the burka, or nobody wears it; or women can wear it if they want, esp the young beautiful ones, but for every woman that wears it, a handsome young man has to wear it too. Wouldn’t that be fair?

  • asoders22

    “The burqa can achieve for some women precisely the sort of goal SATC is all about: female sexual independence. Without giving men easy access to the female body–whether physically or even visually–women keep their sexuality mysterious and compelling, helping them take control in private interactions with the opposite sex.” I’m appalled by this statement. The burqa is an insane jail. If women need to hide in a sheet to feel sexually free, then something is fundamentally wrong with the MEN they encounter. I appreciate that the film probably is ignorant and stinks, but there is no defense for the very literal oppression of Muslim women, In most countries, wearing the veil and burqa is certainly not voluntary – if you don’t wear it, you are either outright punished or seen as a loose woman. Islam is, as it is generally practiced, a crazy, harsh, hysterical and paranoid religion. I agree that Western culture for women – obsessed with slimness and beauty – is not free either, but certainly more so than the islamic culture. Here, you can choose to cover up or not, and nobody can tell you what to do. There is no forced separation between men and women, and you are not obliged to stay a virgin till you marry. You are not OWNED. High education is fine, but just a beginning. Muslim women are in chains.

  • nicekid

    I don’t understand why anybody would want to wear a burqa, but I’m certainly not going to condemn those who do, or sit in judgment on them–things we Americans do far too freely. Chacun à son goût.

  • pjclarkfour

    Is this article really condemning a film you haven’t seen for yourself?That just happened.The topic of women in the Muslim world, to be clear, is not nonsense. The fact that you just wrote this based on second hand accounts is what is ridiculous.

  • muawiyah

    For whatever value the burqa has in keeping off the Sun, we must remember that Moslem men invented the Mezzanin ~ to keep the women from walking across the main prayer room floor and defiling it with their private parks up under that burqa (and otherwise not seen).The Moslem assumption is that Islamic women do not wear undergarments!There goes the mystery eh!

  • garrafa10

    I am a western woman and a Roman Catholic and I dress modestly at home and in public.POSTED BY: LESLIESWEARINGEN | JUNE 6, 2010 1:06 PM You are incorrect. We will tell the Muslims what to do in our own countries regardless of your pious sniveling, and sooner or later, we will deport or imprison those who do not flee. Enjoy the future.

  • TerrenceKai

    It just seems to me that muslims take themselves and their religion way too seriously. Religious freedom doesn’t mean the right for you to force your beliefs on to the rest of us. We already have a religion that does that and thinks it has the right to watch our every move and dictate every aspect of our lives so pardon us for chafing and the constant barrage of indignant rage that comes from your faith. So you’re portrayed inaccurately, welcome to the world. We’re all portrayed inaccurately. Get over yourselves.

  • shalshah

    I’m not Muslim, but as a man raised in Western society, I think the Burqa is a fantastic idea for women in the U.S. This country is too free and permissive with sexual innuendo everywhere. The burqa simply should be a choice for women in any country. Men have a hormone called Testosterone which biologically makes us more violent, aggressive and sexually charged. The burqa tones down the likelihood of sexual predation on women. We are able to respect the woman for who she is, what she can do and keeps sexual relations exciting solely between marital couples. No religion in the world permits pre-marital sex. There’s good reason for it given the incidences of AIDS, HPV, Chlamydia, Gonorrohea, and other STD’s out there. No premarital sex also negates a lot of the psychological trauma, pressures, and issues that young women and men face. The burqa is simply a “tool” for women to guard their modesty and to help the more sexual male species from being deviant.

  • kent_eng

    How can you write a column on a movie you haven’t seen? Frankly, that’s ridiculous. Write another column after watching the movie, and then we’ll see.

  • asburyjer

    To the commentator: this, “We haven’t watched “Sex and the City 2″, as we cannot get ourselves to devote that much time” is where I stopped reading. Look it’s really pretty simple, if you’re going to write a full commentary on a movie where you bash the movie then please have the integrity to go see the movie. I mean after all you’re furthering your career at their expense the least you could do is actually watch it.BTW, I will NOT be seeing Sex in the City 2, and I will also NOT be writing a commentary about it.

  • Beckola

    So you haven’t seen the movie, you listen to some hearsay, and therefore you don’t know that the Muslim women in the movie turn out to be just like the SaTC ladies–wearing fabulous clothes and accessories under their traditional robes.

  • HancockJM

    Pffft. If you haven’t seen it, you have no place commenting on it. And, please, Americans–especially American women–are too smart to be fooled into believing a burka offers any sort of liberation.

  • itsagreatday1

    I never watched the TV program and have even less an interest or motivation to see the movies. However, I agree with others posting that until you SEE the movie, don’t use others’ opinions or speculate as to what is accurate or inaccurate.As for the burqa or any other clothing that shrouds a women – don’t tell me it’s liberating. CHOICE is liberating. You also make the assumption that women dress provocatively to access men, or to hold them. What a crock of stereotypical “loose Western woman” trash. I’m a “young” 62 year old woman who dresses for herself. So does my 36 year old daughter. BTW, I have an M.A. in Middle Eastern studies and indeed was married to the Arab world for several so I’ve experienced much first hand. Burqas et al are all about men controlling those societies and civilizations. That, my dear, is 180 degrees from liberation/freedom.But by all means, keep trying to convince yourself of all you’ve written. And you’ll continue to perpetuate women in your societies as oppressed.

  • AustininDC

    Asma and Sarah,I have been angered by the portrayals of Muslims in America since 9/11. My friends wanted me to see SATC2 with them and I initially refused based on the reports that it portrayed Muslim women negatively. I eventually saw it. Muslim women in the movie are portrayed wearing all sorts of levels of dress. It actually portrays Muslim women in burqas as independent, courageous, and joyful. I would like to know your perspective after you have seen the movie.Thanks!

  • dr_dan

    Defensive.

  • doczoidberg

    Liberating power…right…you just keep on believing that, and I’ll continue to look suspiciously at you when you walk into a bank wearing one of those. Those things should be outlawed.

  • abrahamhab1

    Some readers seem very surprised that Uddin commented on a movie without seeing the movie. This is a standard procedure in her faith. If they fear that they might be offended by what they might read (or watch) they are instructed by no one less than Allah to avoid it. Below is that command.

  • Larryw21

    I run into a woman wearing a full burqa – covered head to toe – and I find it bizarre. Now, I’m not going to pass judgment on the get-up because it is derived from a culture of which I am not fully educated. However, in America, it is bizarre. If you want to wear a burqa, go to the middle east where it is common and accepted. If you want to be an American – that is, if you want to live, work, play and be a full citizen of the United States, then give it up and be American. We don’t need anymore world cultures here. Acclimate deary.

  • whm99

    Yeah, right — the burkqa is liberating. Oh, and also, islam is a religion of peace.Have some more of that KoolAid.

  • ModernMom1

    Similar arguments were made by anti-suffragists in the last century. Women’s right to vote will sever the chivalric ties between men and women, as well as go against the word of God as written in the Bible. Women should be restricted to the home and family and they should feel proud in that role. Suffrage leads to the neglect of children and an increase in juvenile delinquency. Women’s role and restriction to household affairs recognizes the essential divinity of her nature. “Women have a higher and holier function than to engage in the turmoil of public life.” I suggest that those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it. Hopefully, women’s freedom will overcome the veil which is a shackle placed on women by other women as well as by men.

  • LilannB

    If the veil and burqa are so liberating why do Muslim men feel the need to force women including non-Muslim women to wear them? Why in some Islamic countries do unveiled women have acid thrown in their faces? Of what value is “modesty” at the point of a gun or knife?I feel far more liberated in the West where I can wear whatever I want with out fear of having acid thrown in my face.

  • gokhlele

    If women want to wear Burqa by choice to increase allure to the men they wish to attract, I have no problem doing so in private. But when done as a dictum by 7th century religious leader(s), then that is not liberating but actually brainwashing the women into accepting the domenance as liberation.Furthermore, I do not accept anyone hiding their identity when they are walking net to me or doing things that can affect my life. I have no way of knowing if the person in Burqa next to me is a woman or a criminal man/woman planning to harm me. So, NO to Burqa in public places (like smoking, for the same reason). They can stay inside their home and wear Burqa, that is none of my business nor should it be anyone else’s business.

  • rajimali

    Three American Moms were forced to wear burqa in Iran recently where they went to see their 3 kidnapped kids. So it is not a choice in Muslim nations. It is mandated.How come in the pic the author is not wearing burqa if she likes it so much

  • rajimali

    Not that American women are too liberating either because I never see them making eye contact with men and smiling, asking them out, asking for their hand in marriage…The fact of the matter women every where have chosen to treat themselves as an object that should be chased by men.

  • vacohee

    What strikes me about Ms. Uddin’s article and the (generally negative) comments in response thereto is that all healthy cultures have their own integrity, worked out over the centuries. There is not (thank Heaven!) a universal culture–and there are no transcendent universal rules for how human life ought to be conducted. Those commentators who have excoriated Ms. Uddin’s views would, I suspect, maintain within their own ideologies values such as Tolerance and Diversity. I think that this would be a time to engage those values. Incidentally, I haven’t seen either of the SATCs; some time ago the NPR show “Wait! Don’t Tell Me!” announced the results of an alleged “exit poll” taken of people coming out of SATC I: 80% of the people were women, 15% were gay men, and 5% were husbands and boyfriends who had done something REALLY bad.

  • rajimali

    A piece of clothing that covers women from head to toe is liberating! Why only for women? Why not men too? Men should cover their faces/heads while out in public too.

  • anah

    @ abrahamhab1, thanks for your explanation. i was one of many commenting about the author not viewing the movie.

  • jameschirico

    I divorce thee, I divorce thee, I divorce thee, is also liberating. Clerics in Saudi Arabia beating schoolgirls back into a fire, a death sentence for coming out without wearing their burkas may be your idea of liberation, I find it barbaric. I have no problem with women wearing the burka nor hijab, just don’t ask for a drivers license nor pass security without showing your face. That is not prejudice, that is reality. Same for targeting Ulema for extra security checks at airports. When Islam treats non-believers like the west treats believers then bring your complaints. That is in line with the fairness in courts built during the Golden Age of Islam.

  • rajimali

    In the last 12 months (since Obama’s Cairo apology to Muslims (for 9/11!), American Muslims have been involved in more than 12 major Islamic terror attacks/plots. Today 2 American Muslim men in NJ arrested for trying to kill American troops overseas.And here we have American born/educated Muslim women scolding us for not respecting burqa (although in the pic she is not wearing one and did not see the movie!). The scary part is that even American education/culture will not change the outlook/mind of a Muslim.

  • rbyanes

    With respect, saying that wearing a burqa is “liberating” is like a mental health patient saying his straight-jacket is liberating. What would be liberating is if Muslim women had a choice to wear or not wear a burqa.

  • 39aka94

    I’m interested in knowing why so many people have chosen to focus on attacking Islam (which most know nothing about) rather than discussing the writers’ actual views about the burqa. I would never wear one voluntarily, but I know women who do (in the US). They feel as the author’s do, that this form of ‘modesty’ allows them freedom in other ways. They are not viewed sexually and can be respected for who they are rather than what they look like. Whether or not that is true is another issue. It is what they believe. Also, why assume that because the authors are writing about the burqa that they don’t work to make any changes in the areas of Islam they find to be constricting, demeaning or unfair to women? That wasn’t the point of the essay.

  • ModernMom1

    Abrahamhab1,

  • bizarrojack

    I’ll rethink burqas when men are expected to wear one. Do you think literally no one wears a burqa who would rather not?Note that I do think it’s offensive when a western country forbids wearing burqa etc. I believe that people can wear what they want, or opt-in to a religion that places strictures upon them, but this “every woman in a burqa thinks it’s great” line was old before it was new.

  • larmoecurl

    “Because female sexuality isn’t as accessible in the Muslim world, men in these parts are more likely to pursue Muslim women on the women’s terms.”Horse hockey. Whatever status women have in the Muslim world is whatever status men give them. Women are chattel. Nothing more. Defending this injustice is despicable.

  • bandmom22

    Sure, what woman wouldn’t want to be encased in a stifling shroud when outside? Women after a certain age are invisible anyway – this would allow all women of any age to be invisible too!That’s the ticket!

  • nadia8

    I think the authors of this article were well intentioned, but it is just bad journalism to write a piece on a movie that you haven’t even seen! Its absolutely ridiculous…I saw the movie yesterday just for fun, and that’s what it was…fun. Not the best movies I’ve ever seen for sure, and definitely not politically correct in numerous ways (about culture, sexual preference, etc), but that’s how Sex and the City is…a very specific genre, targeted for a specific audience. I feel this article is extremely knee jerk in saying that the movie is offensive to Muslim women. I am a Muslim woman and I was not offended at all…the movie actually tries to point out that American women are actually not as a “liberated” as often portrayed, and the the women of Abu Dhabi actually have a cool thing going by mixing tradition with modern elements.

  • arancia12

    “Without giving men easy access to the female body–whether physically or even visually–women keep their sexuality mysterious and compelling, helping them take control in private interactions with the opposite sex.”What an absolute, crock-full of BS. Pure BS. In other words, men must be fooled. Men cannot control themselves in the presence of the female form. The female body is so primed for sin that men cannot be expected to resist temptation.Here’s a couple of thoughts. How about growing up some men who think of women as something other than objects of sex? How about expecting men to act like creations of God and reflections of him? How about giving women the power to be who they are and look like what they want without having to be mysterious and covered in a body bag? How about some respect between men and women and an expectation of behavior that does not involve manipulating men with sexuality or coveting women because of a their body parts? The entire burqa issue is simply the continued support of a society that believes women must manipulate men sexually in order to survive and that men have so little self control they cannot be expected to be around women without slipping into a sexual frenzy. Thank you Madams Uddin and Jawaid, but no thank you.

  • AKafir

    Well said, Nadia8.

  • ricktaft

    An article today about a woman suing her employer because they said she was too sexy. It distracted her male coworkers. The first deity was female with big hips and breasts.

  • pierrejc2

    Ms. Uddin: If you’re going to comment publicly on a movie, you should see it. (Duh.)

  • maggots

    Why not have men wear the burqas? Let them feel the same liberation of their sexuality mumbo-jumbo that the authors praise? Let them see what life in rice sack feels to their self-esteem.

  • pierrejc2

    “Without giving men easy access to the female body–whether physically or even visually–women keep their sexuality mysterious and compelling, helping them take control in private interactions with the opposite sex.”At first, this assertion made no sense to me. The ignorance of Muslim men sexually empowers Muslim women? But how?Then I realized that, for a Muslim woman to “take control” in sexual encounters with Muslim men, she need only say (as she removes her undergarments): “It has teeth, so behave yourself.”

  • muffinarm

    Try watching the movie before you write a column slamming the film. Seems basic enough to me. As for the idea that Muslim women are in control because they were a burqa – that’s complete nonsense. It portrays Muslim men as being unable to control themselves in sexual relations with women and reduces women to a second class citizenship. Anytime any particular segment of society is forced to wear clothing or behave in a radically different way than their gender counterparts, I fail to see how that is progress.

  • Watcher1

    So tell us Asma, did you not see SATC because YOU didn’t want to/didn’t have the time? Or was it because your husband wouldn’t let you? The Burqa is Liberating? That’s why you didn’t wear it in your picture? How about this: why doesn’t female circumcision (a mild name for a horrific procedure)insult your female Muslim sensibilities? Why doesn’t having a man throw acid in your face because you don’t have a Burqa on when he sees you insult your female Muslim sensibilities. Why doesn’t it “insult your female Muslim sensibilities” when a muslim woman is murdered by her husband because he “dreamt” she had an affair? It doesn’t “insult your female Muslim sensibilities” when school girls are allowed to be burned alive because the “men” wouldn’t allow them out without their Hajibs? It doesn’t “insult your female Muslim sensibilities” when a girl is raped and then stoned to death or imprisoned for being immodest? You don’t find any of these things offensive?. Oh that’s right, you’re a muslim woman, you only get offended when western cultures show disdain for “your” burqa. Say, did your husband tell you to write this tripe or he would whip you? Beat you? Throw acid in your face? Stone you to death? How did you get your “tolerant” Family to allow you to (gasp!) have your picture taken with (OMG!) makeup on? and fancy ear rings? You brazen hussy….you’re lucky your brother didn’t kill you to redeem your family’s honor.

  • Astrogal

    I’m really appalled at the vitriol and even hatred being spewed against the columnist and her viewpoint.While I may disagree with the columnist on this issue–and share the underlying philosophical perspective of many critics about the low status of women in Islamic societies (and that’s a broad brushstroke, problematic statement as it varies greatly by country)–there are more civil ways of raising questions or counter-points to the column, ones that don’t have such venom or personal attacks in them.

  • deltadelta

    Why do you say female sexuality isn’t as accessible in the Muslim world – maybe not accessible to the eye but a man can barter for just about any female he wants in some countries and do as he wishes with her – sounds pretty accessible to me. And as for wearing burqas for modesty reasons – why is a woman’s body more sexual than a man’s? Why does she have to hide her body? Is it something to be ashamed of? Is it for her husband to possess – more his body than actually her’s so nobody else can see it? Ohmigod someone else might have lustful thoughts about her? What about some women lusting after an exposed man? Oh I forgot, that’s ok because he and he alone owns himself. Burqa wearing reduces women to sex objects. Not good.

  • jabalong

    What a convoluted, non-sensical rationalization of the implicitly repressive burqa!

  • uncivil

    The women from SATC2 are silly twerps. I don’t see why they’re so impressed with themselves. Average looking. Nothing special. Why do so many women fall for this junk?

  • halozcel1

    I don/wear Burqa and I’m Liberated(in that case,the most liberated women in the world are Afghan women)*easy access*

  • PSolus

    This is a vacuous article about a vacuous subject.I won’t comment on the movie, however, as I have not seen it.

  • acebojangles

    I don’t think SATC 2 is the place to go for legitimate social commentary. That being said, anyone who claims that the burqa doesn’t represent misogyny is kidding themselves.

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