Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tznius, Moslem-Style, Revisited
by: Schvach Yid

I’ve just learned of the existence of Naomi Wolf – the (a?) Jewish feminist. Actually, it has occurred to me that there may not exist a Jewish woman who is not feminist (at least in America), but that’s another matter.

This past August Ms. Wolf wrote about the habit (no pun intended) of religious Moslem women wearing the hijab. Her critique, which was published in The Sydney Morning Herald, can be accessed at:

She wrote, in part:

What kind of “Western gaze” are all these Muslim women hiding from in places like Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt? … Muslim women are covered up to protect them from Muslim men. I experienced it myself. I put on a shalwar kameez and a headscarf in Morocco for a trip to the bazaar. Yes, some of the warmth I encountered was probably from the novelty of seeing a Westerner so clothed; but, as I moved about the market - the curve of my breasts covered, the shape of my legs obscured, my long hair not flying about me - I felt a novel sense of calm and serenity. I felt, yes, in certain ways, free.

There’s controversy here, and it’s Moslem vs non-Moslem. You can read some of it at:

Please don’t ask. I don’t know if the blog site owner is Moslem or not. Perhaps it doesn’t matter.

Last evening, around 6:30pm, I cruised around town looking for food. Every place was closed, except for the few - yet increasing in number of - so-called ‘Mediterranean’ eateries. ‘Mediterranean’, in this application, is a euphemism for Arab. (At one of these restaurants, the husband and wife proprietors answered the inquiry of a curious customer by telling him they come from Greece. The two owners then turned to each other and spoke in Arabic; she, by the way, dresses utterly ‘Western’.)

Are you familiar with the old quip that one can tell if a Chinese restaurant is any good by whether or not ‘real’ Chinese people eat there? Well, in my nook of America’s Bible Belt, there are ‘Mediterranean’ restaurants with Moslem clients, and those where traditional Moslem attire is absent. One, of course, can anticipate which is which in advance by simply scanning the scene for a sign that announces halal meat.

Back to the subject at hand. - is it tznius? ‘Down’ here I see lots of women clad in traditional Moslem attire, and I’ve had a wicked thought concerning the matter. I think we’re all informed of the appetite many men have for women donning lingerie. Hijabs and abayes are not lingerie, but still, I never saw the big deal of women’s hair getting a guy started until I learned about the Moslem religious tradition of concealing it. In high school, where a major effort of teachers and administrators is directed at assuring (as far as possible) that the young males aren’t provoked (at least in my day), the hair of the female students flew freely.

But introduce this new (for Westerners) social value, and what develops?

Some people at a Walmart not far from my home were aghast (and made no bones of expressing it) at the site of Moslem female customers dressed in their traditional garb. I had no objection; in fact, I see some potential here for the development of a new American male appreciation of female sexuality.

No, I do not advocate that non-Moslem women wear the garments of religious Moslem women, but rather that a little tznius would be appreciated, as in ‘cover-up a bit more’.

Here’s a link to a list of comments and posts on the subject:

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