A practicing Muslim woman, who dresses much like the woman in the photo (the photographer is not the subject in this photo) took the photo below and decided to publish it in a photo exhibition in order to portray the “other” side of Muslim women who appear in public like this. Islamically, there is nothing prohibited in this photo, as far as I can tell, but someone who saw it decided something was wrong with it and removed it. You can read about the story here. Once it became politicized it took on a life of its own, deals were made, foreign governments were contacted and it became a sordid tale of censorship in Canada. To this observer it’s another example of suppressing the right of women to determine their own voice but in this case that objectification comes from the right. For that reason, I want Sooraya Graham’s voice to be heard here on Miscellany101.
What’s the difference between this and that? What are we told should be our reaction to the image on the right versus the image on the left? Mankind has been struggling with women’s sexuality since the beginning of time and inevitably we end up objectifying women either as objects of pleasure or revulsion, yet legally speaking, in most western democracies women were allowed the freedom to choose what they could wear and we as a society were told to respect that choice or face legal consequences for our indiscretion. You will not find one politician who will claim the woman on the right has an ulterior motive to subvert the American way of life by wearing such an outfit in public, yet women who appear as the image on the left we are told want to impose a way of life on us that is akin to the terrorist attacks of 911 and therefore the weight of the law should be brought to bear against them…..not their detractors. Raising the cry of No Sharia, politicians, pundits and the general public alike have likened such an article of clothing as an act of sedition. In fact, too many societies in the West are even deciding to remove the right of women to choose what they, women, want to wear or what they should do with their bodies or the bodies that grow inside their bodies. Legally, no woman is responsible for the inappropriate behavior of a male towards her if she appeared as the image on the right. Rape, a crime of violence is rarely if ever excused because the attacker gave in to an uncontrollable desire to ravage a woman’s body because she was wearing clothing that excited him. As a society, we’ve come to accept the notion that regardless how a woman may appear, we are not to infringe on her ability to appear that way or punish her with our male notions of how we can behave as a result, yet far too many people feel compelled to punish women who wear niqab, either by restricting their right to wear it or denying them access in society.
Authorities have given in to their uncontrollable desire to assault the body of women who choose to wear the niqaab with the full weight of a government that has ingrained in its law freedom of religious and personal expression by removing the freedom or right to those that offend government. The silence of an American public so beat up with the fear of Muslims and Islam is more than deafening, its complicit. That no one can see the charade of charlatans who invent an object of fear and then say the only way it can be dealt with is to undo the fundamental precepts on which this country were built in order to make people feel comfortable is not only an absurd notion but highly treasonous. After more than a decade of intense fear mongering which has produced not one scintilla of an outcome we were told was inevitable, more straw dogs, like the niqab, have been erected to convince a weary public that more needs to be done to assuage their fear and rid us of a menace. Yet, what we’re being rid of is a woman’s right to choose how she wants to behave in this society. This battle is being fought by Muslim women, pregnant women, teenaged women, of all races and ethnic backgrounds. They should join one another in standing against a trend that can only lead to them losing control of how they define themselves. Ours should not be a society that fears or objectifies women.