Monday, October 02, 2006

freedom of choice

What is it about some Arab men and not wanting their wives, fiances or significant others to have any sort of independence or freedom? Right now, I'm thinking about how some make their wives and such wear abayas and hijabs/shaylas. How some insist on it.

For instance, I know a couple and she was very open and free prior to getting married to this guy. He knew this about her or maybe not.. I wasn't around then and I'm not really sure how she presented herself beforehand... but anyway. I know that she dyed her hair, wore regular clothes w/ and w/out an abaya, went to coffee shops, etc... now, he won't allow her to dye her hair, she has been told to wear a shayla and abaya when going out and such and she no longer goes anywhere, unless it's during the day while he's at work. She still does most of what he doesn't wan't, but lies to him about it.

She wanted a tattoo, for instance, and he said "no". She got one anyway and told him that it would come off over time - which is a lie. She goes out while he's at work and doesn't cover her hair, and - like I said - she dyes her hair - and I wonder - how does she get around this w/ him - it's beyond me (not like you can't tell that she's dying her hair - does he not notice??).. maybe he's finally accepted it because it is starting to get considerably lighter... so how could he NOT know that she's dying it!??

I find myself wondering about this. Why is it that he doesn't allow her to be herself... to be modern if she so chooses. She was before and he was attracted to it, but not now?!! Oh.. but I forget one big thing.. she is now married to him and Lord forbid someone, a man, look at her! Ok, ok.. she is a tad bit flirtatious... ok, maybe too much so and has taken the flirtations a bit far, so I can understand his logic, but... doesn't one think that he could also be driving her to these distractions by his controlling ways? Would you call what he's doing love?

This is not the only case.. in one of my other jobs, there was this girl engaged to this guy. He insisted that she wear an abaya when going to work and going out.. but she didn't and he didn't know it because she lied and told him that she did. She wore **very** revealing clothes to the office and even went out to coffee shops afterwards w/out covering, and once when a bunch of us were out, she saw his cousin and almost died because she didn't have an abaya on. She ran out of the coffee shop and insisted on going someplace else. It caused a lot of problems for them and he eventually broke it off w/ her. But, he knew how she was before and even left another g/f to be w/ her.... so what gives? I don't get it really.

What is it about men not wanting or allowing their wives and such to be themselves? Is it that they want these women stupid? Is it control? Is it all in the name of religion? I think many use religion as an excuse! Or is it that girls, some girls, take it too far? Is it that they aren't in love and married because it was arranged and don't like the controlling natures of the men? Do men, in the ME, become much more aggressive or jealous once they get married? Is it like animals or dogs where they feel it's their territory and how dare another man see their goods? Maybe they should pee on the girls.. maybe that would help! ;) That way, another male could smell it and know immediately to stay away.... oh come on, it could work.... ;) ;)

I was told to wear an abaya by a girl at the office not too long ago, but there's no way I would. I dress very conservatively.. in business suits, pants suits, long skirts and such, so it's not like there's a real valid reason. I was also told, when I first came here - by some ppl - to wear an abaya when going out and I did for a while, but I refuse to do that now. If I go to a funeral, I wear one, or if I go to certain villages in Bahrain, I'll wear one, but that's the extent of it for me. But I'm a rebel and won't have anyone trying to control me and feel that this is a form of control. I know there are a LOT of women out there who wear them and want to wear them, but there's also a stigma attached to not wearing them. Not for expatriates so much (but we do get stared at), but for Bahraini/Arab women there is a stigma attached to not covering or in some social circles it exists.

I know this lady, she's a news woman here in Bahrain, and she got a lot of grief from a lot of ppl when she chose not to wear the abaya and not to cover her hair. Why does this happen? The ridicule wasn't only from men, believe me. I've heard the stories and it amazes me. I know the reason behind it... but the question keeps coming to my mind - WHY???!!! Why isn't it up to the woman?

People should be free to choose. Women should be free to choose. Some men wan't their women stupid... that way they don't ask any questions or question their authority. Lord help the girls that study in the States and come back to marry a guy from the Gulf! Ok, ok... not all the guys are back wood's thinkers... and many are open and love free thinking women (alhumdallah!), but... there are many out there that aren't... but then again, when thinking about it, I guess the ones that aren't, aren't marrying the girls coming home from the States either.

Both of the men I talk about above are college graduates... and one even studied abroad... so what gives? Oh yeah, the 2nd guy wouldn't even allow this girl to wear nail polish! He used religious reasons for it....

I'm just thankful that I wear what I want, in reason, and don't feel the need to go out looking for any other attention, other than from my husband. I married for love and feel it's the only way.


Puppy said...

Well all that I would call an inferiority complex.

The man has no confident in himself, he knows there are men much better than him and he afraid to loose the love of his wife again because he is not confident in himself and has inferiority complex. Men also afraid that someone better than him will see his wife and will go for it to take her from him. He is not sure in himself same as he is not sure in her and her love to him.

Inferiority complex is another reason why men prefer lightheaded women. So she will not have enough brain to identify that he is not good for her as he want her to think.

We all proprietorial, men and women. The thing is women tend to control that feeling, compared to men, plus the society in East, ME, gave men such a “right” covered under religion.

I believe that confident man will never force his woman to wear hijab and etc if she wasn’t wearing it before meeting him. He loves her the way she was, with dyed hair, her way of clothing, then why to change her? Inferiority complex this is an answer :)

My regards to all people who are confident in himself.


Leilouta said...

Those men want their wives to change and follow their rules once married. I always wondered about those rich Saudis who get married to young pretty Egyptian actresses, and then ask them to wear the hijab and quit their jobs. Why marry them in the first place?

Blayde said...

The guy ins't wrong in all aspects, if i maybe be so bold.

In Islam, one is not allowed the graphical representation on the body, ie a tattoo, so he is right there, and women are supposed to cover themselves while going out, whether they did or not, but he is wrong in trying to force it on her, even if he is thinking in whoever's best interest, that was a bit much, you can't change someone's nature.

The hair colour was too much, he should've backed off there.(he was beginning to sound like the UoB dress code :P)

The main problem is most guys have taken everything so called 'western' as bad for the women but okay for them ie smoking and drinking. They don't know when it is time to move a step back.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Wow, what a rant!
It must be a very sensitive issue when a Westerner lives over there. I'm glad that you do follow custom for a funeral or going to a rural village - that's fair enough. But in a modern city, if you dress conservatively, that sounds fine enough.
As for those stories you tell, well the guys just are so selfish but again there shouldn't be so much deception going on by the women either. If their life is as bad as that, the gals should just get out.

One Wink at a Time said...

This was all quite interesting to me, as an American woman who enjoys the trust and support of my husband to do whatever makes me happy. He respects me as an intelligent individual and I extend the same courtesy toward him. Neither of us would embarrass or disrespect the other. It seems terribly unfair to me for one person to present themselves one way before marriage and then change their ideas and standards after. I would think that, as a couple's love grows for one another, so should their acceptance and respect for the other. I hesitate to make judgements or assert my opinion where Religion is concerned, as I do not understand the principles and rules involved in yours.

The Moody Minstrel said...

If you'll forgive me, this is from Shakir's translation of the Q'uran (024.031):

And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers"

This could be interpreted in many different ways, but the only parts of the body that are specifically directed to be covered are the "private parts" and ornaments thereof (i.e. genitalia) and bosom and ornaments thereof (i.e. breasts). That just sounds like basic public modesty and decency. "Head covering" is mentioned in this translation, but other translations give it as "veils"...for the bosoms! That could simply mean covering for the upper body.

As I said, there are many possible interpretations, and I don't know what if any Hadiths talk about it.

Note also that this directive is given as advice rather than as law. Whether or to what extent a woman complies with it is supposed to be up to her as a reflection of her personal faith, not something forced upon her.

I think some people are just getting a bit people can often tend to do in any religion, but I think in this case it's also a control thing. A lot of men want to "own" their wives. That's just as true in the U.S. as it is in Bahrain; it just manifests itself differently.

Alfanan said...

Commenting on what Leilouta said. Back in the 80s, and early into the 90's, the Egyptian actress Sherehan, was married to a Bahraini multi-millionaire. I don't remember if he wanted her to cover up, but after his death, she came to Bahrain demanding her money from his family. It was sort of like Anna Nicole Smith's case. ;) So really, even if she covered up, did she really WANT to do it?

I seriously doubt it.

Reem said...

I'm actually surprised that the abaya and shayla are that much of an issue in Bahrain. My bahraini friends (girls) who live there don't cover at all and live very modern lives out in the open. In fact they were shocked that I had to wear the abaya in Qatar, which is much more conservative that Bahrain. I am especially surprised that western women are told to cover there!

Munther said...

This is one of the things that I hate to see from some of my countrymen ! I hate how some are such hypocrites when it comes to the way they treat their wives ! Like you said tooners, some force their wives to wear the abbayas and shaylas, restrict their goings and comings while they tend to do what ever they like ! I do agree with puppy on the whole thing being an inferiority complex but also I'd like to add that it is the lack of self confidence and trust that causes the problem. What makes the whole thing more annoying is that the husbands actually knew of their wives lifestyle before marriage, which puts a big question mark on why they force the wives to change !

gazza27 said...

From an outsiders view,its verry strange to make your loved one keep themselves covered,quite scarey in fact!

tooners said...

reem, oh believe me, there are lots of women that don't cover and are very free, and their husbands have no problem w/ it, but... i find issue w/ the ones that make their wives cover when it was all different before they got married. i do see this. i think most of it comes from the attitude of the man and his views, honestly. i've never been "forced" persay to cover, but i have been told to cover or asked in a way that i knew was more than just a question. so i did for a while, but i no longer cover unless the need is there. most expats don't cover... altho, sometimes, at the grocery i will see what i know to be western women fully covered. there are tons of women who cover here and a lot of it is for fashion and not religion, and then a lot of it comes from the husband, i believe.

tooners said...

reem, also... there is a stigma attached to not wearing the abaya and shayla/hijab in some villages. i think some girls would like to go w/out, but if they did this, ppl would talk, so it's easier not to do it. i sometimes wonder if that's why men make their wives cover... to keep ppl from talking.

Reem said...

I think that is essentially what it is. My husband never forced me to wear the abaya, or even asked. I just knew I should because ALL Qatari women wear the abaya in Qatar. However, like bahrain, many wear them just so others wont talk about them...they dont want to be the first to take it off in public. They are generally very conservative people.

But like your post discusses, I have heard of many men that make their wives cover because they are jealous or just really religious. It makes me mad.

gazza27 said...

Did you hear that Jack Straw said women should take of their veils when talking to him?

tooners said...

gazza27, YES!!! i read that the other day in the paper. wow... i can hardly believe it. what is the reaction there over this? i haven't seen anything else in the papers about it and i'm really bad about sitting and watching the news... so fill me in!

gazza27 said...

Henry Porter
Sunday October 8, 2006
The Observer

Jack Straw was right to make the simple human point that it is rather hard to conduct a conversation with someone wearing the full veil. He was also right to make the further point that the full veil does not help relations between different communities.
He didn't quite say that the veil has no place in a liberal secular society, but if that was his intention I agree with it. This is not to persecute Muslims for their beliefs or deny them rights: it is simply to say that the veil, like it or not, has become increasingly regarded as a symbol of separatist aspiration and of female subservience. Many wear it voluntarily, but it does not stop this being a symbol of women's oppression which stretches back to the times of classical Greece.

Article continues



For those who do not encounter the veil in their everyday lives and who may not understand the nuances of veil wearing, it does seem alien and unsettling. The same people may also subscribe to the view that whether you are transvestite artist Grayson Perry, bowler Monty Panesar or a housewife in Blackburn, you should be allowed to wear what you want, even though the sight or idea of British women veiled and covered head to foot in black robes is disturbing.
I live in an area where there is quite a large population of traditional Muslims and I should admit I dislike the social detachment that is achieved by the increasing use of the full veil. I would even go so far to say that I object to this one group of people holding itself apart, not from an intolerant white majority, but from a remarkably diverse and easy-going ethnic mix.

I drink coffee in a cafe which is run by an Israeli and his Eritrean wife. I buy newspapers from Sri Lankans, deposit my cheques with a Nigerian in Lloyds TSB, buy fruit and vegetables from Greek Cypriots, eat at a Lebanese restaurant run by Shias, have my hair cut by a Turk and use the chemist run by three young Muslims, whose origin I do not know.

The way that people get on without compromising their culture or ethnic origin is really rather moving. The differences are there, but in everyday relations it seems to me that these do not come into play. It is an example of an almost perfectly harmonious integration and we should remember how recent this is and that it is not an uncommon story in the metropolitan cities of Britain.

On the issue of veils, I asked the Turkish hairdresser (happily married to a Greek Cypriot) and his Muslim neighbours what they thought. They agreed that Straw was right and that the veil did nothing to help easy relations. The people said that it was not written in the Koran that women should hide their faces. Indeed, I subsequently found a story about a prominent companion of the prophet who asked his wife to veil her face. She refused by saying: 'The Almighty hath put on me the stamp of beauty. It is my wish that the people should view the beauty and thereby recognise His grace unto them.'

Many Muslim women would agree with that. Indeed, this issue of the full veil probably only concerns 10,000 or 15,000 at most, of the 1.6 million British Muslims, which is why most should not see Straw's remarks as a challenge to their beliefs and way of life.

Several official, as well as the self-appointed, spokesmen who have entered the fray since publication of the Lancashire Telegraph last week have suggested that Muslims are being discriminated against. 'Would he say to the Jewish people living in Stamford Hill that they shouldn't dress like Orthodox Jews?' asked Reefat Bravu, chair of Muslim Council's social and family affairs unit.

The answer is that wearing a veil in a largely secular society says something about the woman's position in her marriage and probably prevents her from engaging with that society properly and so enjoying the rights of other women. It is fundamentally different from wearing, say, a sari or any of the traditional clothes of the Hassidim because it erects a barrier between her and the people around her.

Never having knowingly praised Jack Straw before, I think it's worth saying that he showed a good deal of courage in bringing this issue to the fore and that he handled it intelligently. We have a problem with radicalised Muslims in Europe. Do we ignore what is going on and hope things just get better or confront the minority and risk antagonising a much larger section of Muslim opinion?

Maybe there isn't a choice because liberal democracies are already under attack from sections of their Muslim populations. Maybe one unacknowledged truth in this debate is that radical elements have been empowered by al-Qaeda's terrorist campaign and feel able to insist on the watering down of liberal democratic values in Europe with the hope that Sharia law will eventually be established.

Since the Danish cartoons controversy last year, there have been many examples of Muslims asserting their right to censor or criticise on grounds of religious offence. The Pope was forced to withdraw his repetition of observations made by the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaeologus as to the violent nature of early Islam. It may be uncomfortable, yet it cannot be denied that the emperor said this and had good reason to. If the Pope is barmy enough to want to quote him, he should be allowed to do so.

In France, philosopher and writer Robert Redeker has gone into hiding after writing in Le Figaro that the prophet Mohammed was a 'merciless warlord, looter, a mass murderer of Jews and a polygamist'. Redeker's life was threatened by messages that informed him that the world's 1.3 billion Muslims would not rest until he was dead. In Berlin, a production of Mozart's Idomeneo was cancelled after police warned that staging it with a scene that depicted the severed head of Mohammed would expose the audience to enormous danger. This turned out to be largely panicky self-censorship, but in Switzerland, a revival of Voltaire's play Mahomet received complaints, an irony indeed since the play was written in 1740 as a disguised attack on Christianity.

Should we perhaps follow Voltaire's injunction: 'Écrasez l'Infâme!' ('Crush the infamous!') and expose the fanaticism, superstition and intolerance of all extremist religion regardless? After all, the Muslim population of Europe is a small percentage of the total. Why should the majority of Europeans have their culture judged and trimmed by this tiny, clamorous minority?

The two Danish authors of a new book called Islamists and Naivists suggest that the threat of Islamism is much greater than people are willing to concede and claim that the totalitarian strain of Islamic fundamentalism is like Nazism and communism. However, Ralf Pittelkow, a political moderate like his co-author, Karen Jesperson, says that Islamists and their values are gaining ground in Europe among young Muslims. 'They try to interfere in people's lives, telling them what to wear, what to eat, what to think and what to believe,' he said in a recent interview. In the book, the authors write: 'The mixture of political correctness and fear all too often lead to compliance with Islamism.'

This is all worrying and dangerous. I am all for trying to explain the purpose of liberal democracy better than we do, rather than stoking the dispute. Jack Straw's observations fell into that category, but there is certainly one other unacknowledged truth. We cannot very well defend our values to our Muslim neighbours, and promote the reason, toleration and justice that we believe to be innate to liberal democracy, if governments like ours at the same time reduce personal freedom, attack our ancient rights and the rule of law, encourage police officiousness, disdain the word of senior judges and busy themselves creating a society where total surveillance is the norm.

As they used to say in Beyond the Fringe: 'Mote and beam, Sir!

gazza27 said...

This is from todays newspaer?

tooners said...

gazza27, wow! now... i'm fascinated w/ this. i was reading on another girl's blog about this and she had pictures of two ppl in briton, one had his face covered in piercings and the other was dressed somewhat like a woman but on the grunge side, and she made the comment that these ppl are allowed to wear whatever they want and dress however they want and wondered why it was allowed when the women were made to take off the veil. now, in reading this article that you sent, i see another side to it.

here in bahrain, you get a LOT of women who cover completely... w/ a lot of these women coming from saudi. sometimes we laugh and call them ninjas when they're in large groups ;) they had many complaints a while ago in the papers here of not allowing veiled women to drive like that saying that it didn't allow them to see properly, and many wanted to make it so that they had to take off the veil for driving tests and whatnot.. nothing ever changed though. and really, i can't see it ever changing. i've grown accustomed to seeing women like this.. they're everywhere here, but i think if i was living in the states and started seeing a lot of it, it would alarm me.

thanks for the article!! i enjoy reading stuff like this.

gazza27 said...

Ha-Ha thanx for that tooners,they have remined me of ninja's,when i've seen them i've tried not to look them in the eye incase the kicked me in the head LOL.