An Inclusive Litany

11/23/01

Humera Khan in the Guardian, again, November 21, 2001:
The issue of the burka in Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the Muslim world, is not about the garment itself. Women wore such clothing even before Islam and will continue to do so as a matter of choice.

Those western women like Mrs Bush and Mrs Blair, ostensibly offended by the sight of such attire, must learn to accept that the sight of scantily clad women has the same effect on many in the world. In both extreme cases one must understand the notion of choice.

While the Taliban were imposing their beliefs and reducing freedom on one side, the same can be said of the male-dominated and often misogynistic fashion industry on the other. The question of which is the more ruthless form of persuasion, the lashes of the Taliban or the multimillion-pound advertising flashes of the fashion industry, remains a moot point.

A similar sentiment, from an op-ed by Joan Jacobs Brumberg and Jacquelyn Jackson in the Boston Globe, November 23, 2001:
Now that the Taliban's horrific treatment of women is common knowledge, dieting and working out to wear a string bikini might seem to be a patriotic act. The war on terrorism has certainly raised our awareness of the ways in which women's bodies are controlled by a repressive regime in a far away land, but what about the constraints on women's bodies here at home, right here in America? ...

Whether it's the dark, sad eyes of a woman in purdah or the anxious darkly circled eyes of a girl with anorexia nervosa, the woman trapped inside needs to be liberated from cultural confines in whatever form they take. The burka and the bikini represent opposite ends of the political spectrum but each can exert a noose-like grip on the psyche and physical health of girls and women.

[Ed.: That last article also featured the following sentence: "The unrealistic body images that we see and admire every day in the media are literally eating away at the female backbone of our nation."]

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