12.11.13

A Response to Mayassa Al Thani: The Abaya IS a Problem


A few day ago an aunt of mine sent this video to the family whatsapp group praising Mayassa's eloquence, form and education. The details of the speech, as in every Arab exchange, were of course irrelevant. "Look where they are now and look at us, khalfallah 3alaina." I, on the other hand actually watched the video and found myself very angry at one part of her speech. Don't get me wrong, this girl, through the willingness of Qatar to develop, has managed to undertake enormous projects and has had inspiring results in changing the cultural landscape of Qatar and giving Qataries the opportunities to think, learn and create. She's done a lot of good for her country and is seen as an example, which is why the beginning of her video bugged me so much. She speaks about her abaya.

Firstly, kudos to her for stating that it is an example of cultural expression and not a religious garment. Mayassa then goes on to recount a story where a journailist asked Dr. Shaikha the president of Qatar University whether the abaya "infringed or hindered her freedom in any way.
Her answer was quite the contrary. She felt more free, more free because she could wear anything she wanted under the abaya." True, she can wear anything she wants UNDER the abaya, but she has to WEAR the abaya itself. However much she mentioned that it is a "choice" I don't see a choice where there is no freedom to choose and freedom from enormous negative consequences. She mentioned that it is just like the Indian girl choosing to wear a sari. Okay cultural point taken, but the Indian woman is not going to wear a sari for volleyball practice. She will wear volleyball shorts. In front of a male and female audience. I doubt Ms.Abaya-Qatar's abaya is gone be as disposable and symbolic.

The problem I have with all these newfangled attempts to explain why the retention of the abaya is a retention of our Arab tradition and maintaining that tradition while we move into a modern age is the fact that NO ONE questions the position of the abaya as a PART of our tradition moving forward. It is a given. Yes we are Arab... we abaya. End of story. No one asks the question SHOULD the abaya be a part of our future and why? Is it just a look or does it reflect certain specific cultural values? Are these values compatible with our idea of modern woman and a modern, healthy society?

Lets get back to basics: what is the abaya? A abaya is a usually silk (differs according to locale), black outer shell garment worn on top of clothing in Gulf countries. The original abaya is tent-like, large and plain. The abaya is not worn at home but placed on top of clothing when a woman goes into the public arena. Why would a woman need another garment to wear in public that she does not need to wear (even though fully clothed) in private? Why? Because our Gulf Arab tradition places a stigma on a women moving out of her little private sphere (where she BELONGS) into the public. She needs a shield, armour, a cloak of anonymity that would serve to merge her identity with countless others, and to hinder the dangerous and potentially licentious task of marking the single identity of a woman outside the safety of her private family domain. A woman needs to hide. Like she hides behind her (traditionally Arab) windowless house walls, sealed off from public life. Like she hides her hair and feminine charms from non-make relatives. Like she hides her opinions on her mother in law and husband and remains obedient. Like she hides her frustration at the restrictions in her life out of "respect" for tradition. If you want to talk about women and tradition, women in our tradition HIDE. They need protection, they need a wall between them and public life. Because public life is traditionally male.

Why did Fatima Hussein and Lulwa Al Qatami burn their abayas in the optimistic early days of modernization and why did almost the entire female population of Kuwait wear abayas during the invasion? Why is the abaya worn in all-female funerals and not for all-female weddings? Think about it. Fatma Hussain and Lulwa al Qatami were protesting carrying the anonymous woman into the modern age. They had traveled, they had learned, they were intelligent accomplished individuals. They wanted to look like individuals. They did not want a cloak of anonymity smothering their accomplishments. They wanted to live in an open, accountable society where they could not and didn't have to hide. They wanted to wear colour, practical clothing, different fabrics, different cuts, to feel linear one day and curvaceous the next. They wanted to pick their stockings, their suits, their shirts, their accessories with pride, to arrange their hair in a manner that suited their fancy, to feel the spring breeze on their arms with a shift dress and their legs with a pencil skirt. They desired the freedom to BE. To live in colour and texture and cut, They desired the freedom to enjoy a summer afternoon with their friends and family on the beach, to feel the sun on their skin and swim without the weight of fabrics. They desired to wear practical shorts while playing sports, they desired the freedom to be impressive (and to create impressions) at a dinner party. They desired some kind of return of innocence and dignity to their bodies, which were burdened since puberty with the assumption of sin and malicious intent.

Women during the Kuwaiti invasion turned to the abaya to become anonymous, to hide their identity from the enemy. It was a mark of solidarity; a statement "We are all the same, we are not open to you (the enemy) and we are all in mourning." It enabled them to carry out secret operations undetected, it enabled them to carry weapons and letters and symbolize their rejection of the invaders eyes and inquiries. During a funeral the abaya is a symbol that we are all the same in death and that is symbolized in the anonymity of our dress. A abaya is a garment which is VERY VERY VERY heavily loaded with negative cultural baggage (except in the case of the 'aza or funeral). WHY would a modern woman want to retain that? What if, Mayassa, I dont want to wear a pyjama under my abaya? What if I want to be singled out?

The common refrain: "we don't want to just copy the West. We take pride in our own culture." It pains me deeply to see 150 years of our Western feminist counterparts' intense and life-altering struggles thrown out the window without a second glance with some sugarcoated line about this horrid black garment being a part of our "identity." You know what IS a part of my identity?? ME! ME! I am my identity. And I don't appreciate this shroud of misery being thrown on top of me, telling me I need to conform, that my body is wrong, that i need to HIDE. You know what we owe Western feminists? We owe them ideas about modernization that filtered down to us in the 60s! We owe them the Egyptian writers! We owe them the Lebanese poetesses! We owe them our modern curriculums, we owe them the acceptability of the woman in the workplace, we owe them the stigma placed on judging a woman by the length of her skirt, we owe them Palestinian missionary teachers, we owe them A LOT!! A LOT! What they struggled to achieve was parity with the male. equality in public AND private life. They struggled for women to retain their integrity in the public imagination while living their lives and expressing themselves as they liked through dress, manner, influence, opinion,  interest and sexual expression. THEY STRUGGLED FOR FEMALE DIGNITY. They struggled to be able to say "I am a woman in a skirt and I am your boss" "I wear a miniskirt because my legs are not shameful" "I can travel and mix with men and express my natural impulses without being a slut, a whore, a shame. I made a decision and it was MINE to make and there is no shame in it" We don't have to be "Western" to agree that the struggle for equality WAS A CHANGE FOR THEM TOO. They took the shackles their society had on a woman and to a large degree, smashed them to hell. They said we can act, think and do as we please as long as we don't harm anyone without having a stain on our characters. Our bodies are not a source of your honour, our minds are not arenas for you to control. We are free to live and innocent of shame. INNOCENT OF SHAME.OPEN. HONEST. HIDE NOTHING. I want to cry when I say that because it is a concept so unbelievably foreign in our societies that I don't even know where to start.

Today we have all these Gulf-based "luxury" fashion brands selling 3000 dollar abayas claiming they are refashioning this tradition for the modern age. Hawking them to the press, Arab branding 2.0! Put it on Olivia Palermo! What tradition? You mean the need to hide, the funereal black and the baggage of misogyny and years of oppression? Trendy! Fashion! Fabulous darling!! These brands are only reinforcing the abaya's place in our society, deluding young girls that maybe we should hold on to it as a bulwark against the homogenizing waves of modernization. We have more than that! Our identities are more than such superficiality! I have way more in common with my Arab sisters, believe me Mayassa, than black silk!! My identity is UNDER the abaya. In my body, in my mind, in my clothes. My differences are under the abaya. And I want to show the world! Beauty is good! Opinions are good! Honesty is good! It improves the spirit!

THINK about the things you want to carry into the future because our past is dark and oppressive. Don't let the happy stories blind you to the reality that our grandmothers and even mothers used to live. We have come a long way and need to go a long way yet. Using old symbols like the abaya create assumptions and cancerous ideas about what women should look like and how they should be restricted that may sabotage our efforts at progress.

I wished Mayassa wouldn't have opened and closed the topic in 30 seconds. She didn't even acknowledge the idea that maybe we should question this garment's place in our society. Maybe, it one of those traditions which needs to die like the stigma against female education, or honour killings. Maybe it needs to die for us to leave richer lives, more nuanced, more vividly coloured, and more filled with inspiring variety. Show off those curves they make my day! Show off your legs they're beautiful, wear your favourite bikini on an Italian beach and feel the sun, the sand, the water! There's nothing wrong with it. Be happy to be alive! You make other people happy just looking at you! Your face is beautiful, your hair is beautiful, your mind is beautiful, your expressions are beautiful, your wrists are beautiful, your arms are beautiful, your body is beautiful and you look fantastic in that pink dress! And never allow anyone to make you think you are less because this is WHO YOU ARE. ALL of you. You are your brain, your experiences and your body!! No more hiding. Those days are dead.

18 comments:

Reem Al binali said...

What about religion?

miss ghesquiere said...

Can you respond to something I actually wrote about?

Anonymous said...

I think reem has responded to your article...no offence. What about the sunnah, what about islam that gives the covering of women such importance???

Saddens me to think that arabs like yourself are so lost!!!!

miss ghesquiere said...

Clearly i will take offense if you tell me that me and those "like myself" are LOST! LOST! Thanks Anonymous. As opposed to you who are on the right track to the heavenly kingdoms. What I meant by my blunt question was that I would prefer she READ my post and argue about SPECIFIC POINTS (like they teach you in college) on a RATIONAL BASIS rather than throw my entire argument out without a single specific reference to it by dropping the "religion bomb". Because my darling girl "religion" can be used to justify ANYTHING. Osama Bin Laden used religion to justify blowing people up, the Saudis use "religion" to justify not allowing women to drive, in Sudan and rural Egypt they use "religion" to justify female genital mutilation. You will say "that's not my religion, they don't understand it properly" and i say exactly! Don't say "religion" and expect me to bow to the absence of your logic. Now that we cleared that up, the way I was raised with my religion, we do not place an emphasis on "covering of women". YOU did. Not me. MY mother's interpretation was different to yours and my mother is someone who is very very religious. You see where your argument gets lost here? My growing up version of Islam emphasized ritual practice (praying, fasting, etc) and deep belief as a result of constant QUESTIONING, something I think maybe you don't bother yourself with.

Lets end this. My question is thus: when you asked what about the covering of women I got angry because MY ENTIRE ARTICLE QUESTIONED THAT VERY SAME IDEA POINT BY POINT. And here you are at square 1. If you want to ask about something, attack my argument, not my integrity. Think people THINK! You mind find some ideas worth saving along the way.

Anonymous said...

i think your article is brilliant, by wayd :)

-r

miss ghesquiere said...

Maybe brilliant is too much for me but thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

You're leaving out the most important part when it comes to abaya... religion. Islam.
It makes no sense when you ignore it. You say the abaya is to "hide"..a "shield, armour, cloak of anonymity"... And yet you ignore it is from Islam and the essence of hijab this custom has originated. Jilbab is mentioned in the Quran.

I don't know if you're Muslim or not, but abaya serves a purpose for a lot of women. Muslim women all over the world, not just Arab women now. It has become a universal Islamic garment. I pray to God it doesn't "die" like you wish. You think modernity is showing off your curves, as you put it, or wearing a bikini.

Is it backward to cover the body now? Should we just accustom ourselves with the Western world to be accepted? Not only do we have non-Muslims telling us we're oppressed, but even within our own community there are now those who are telling us to throw off our hijab for true freedom. What a shame.

miss ghesquiere said...

I don't know if anyone takes the time to read anything I write before going on the defensive...
1)You said you don't know if I am a Muslim or not. I explicitly mentioned above that I grew up in a Muslim household. And I actually studied Islam very extensively during my university career.
2)I said I would like to have a discussion on a rational basis. Even if you are religious, you must believe that your beliefs can stand up to rational arguments right? Or do you take the Ghazali tack and see religion and rationality (or philosophy) as incompatible? If you do, then it is pointless to read on.
So I said I would like to have a discussion on a rational basis and you brought me no rational argument. You dropped the "RELIGION" bomb again. THIS IS WHO WE ARE. WITHOUT QUESTION. Without question. Without question. Let me give you some examples of things that are said without question: "it says so in the quran" "women are half a man" "all shia should be blown up- they are apostates" "islam means respecting everyone, except unbelievers, who are not people and i am fit to decide who an unbeliever is" "a woman should cover her body and hair... and her face... and her hands... and her feet!" I don't listen to things that are said without question. It's a waste of my time.

So here is some rationality for you: A) Muslim women all over the world certainly do not find their Muslim identity through their Abaya. The Abaya is a strictly Gulf Arab tradition and definitely not a "universal Islamic garment". Even Al Mayassa mentioned that it is not a religious garment but a cultural signifier. Maybe you should take that up with historians of dress. They will confirm my statements.

miss ghesquiere said...

B) What purpose does it serve? That's exactly what I said we should question. You chose to disregard that entirely.
C) I am not suggesting you go and wear a bikini if you are uncomfortable with it like I would never suggest a girl in a bikini be forced to wear an abaya. That "forced Westernization" happened in Iran and Turkey under Reza Pahlavi and Mustafa Kemal. It's wrong. I do not think conforming to Western ideals and forgetting ourselves is progress. I am suggesting we do not lose sight of the arguments that the Western feminist movement made in their efforts to rid their own societies of discrimination and what they meant. And I'm suggesting we EXAMINE ourselves and our traditions and consider what is best left behind when moving forward. Examine, not compare and replicate.

I never, ever stated it is backward to cover the body. I am not suggesting you go flash the cameras for GGW. What I am saying is that women should not be judged by how much they conceal or reveal. I am questioning the validity of your (hidden) argument that a true, faithful Muslim woman identifies herself with this garment and with concealment. That she should judge her worth by her deprivation from the wonderful sensory joys of life. And they are wonderful sensory joys. I want you to give me ONE well thought-out reason behind the idea that covering myself in a long, black, impractical and depressing, culturally heavy garment would make me a better person. I attack the abaya because certain garments are symbols, they mean certain things in certain cultures and they justify arguments and behavior that may be very very bad. A Nazi uniform means something beyond its cloth, as does a Mao suit, a corset, lotus shoes and stripper heels. They signify hatred, discrimination, oppression, conformity, restriction and the debasement of female sexuality. I am arguing that the abaya does a similar thing, it represents a long history of the need to hide. You only hide when you are not secure. And female insecurity has been used by men throughout history as a tool to keep us down and "in our place". If you actually take the time to consider my arguments, you will maybe come to understand how I believe that the Abaya serves an important purpose indeed... FOR MEN. And they made you believe it was all religious obligation. What a shame.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm did read where you said you're were raised in a Muslim household. But I said I didn't know if you were Muslim or not since people can change their beliefs can't they? You see Arabs who become atheists or not particularly religious, it's not a surprise to me. And I say that without judgement.

I brought up religion, because I see abaya and religion as compatible. Some women wear it for *religious reasons*, and the evidence to me shows it's origin from Islam and hijab. Hijab is more about covering your hair, don't you know? Look at Surah Nur in the Quran... I'm sure you're familiar with the verse "Tell the believing women to lower their gaze..." it mentions JILBAB. To cover themselves with a jilbab. That makes abaya a religious garment in it's essence, to me.

Idk what you're talking about with shi'a or who is an unbeliever. I don't believe I brought up anything besides abaya, so chill out.

The purpose it serves, for the women who prefer it, is to cover their body in a modest way which they prefer - according to their beliefs. It's as simple as that. If you want to talk about feminism, feminism is about CHOICE. If a woman chooses to wear abaya, you have to support that instead of saying it's holding her back and serves no purpose. Just as someone wearing an abaya should support someone who does not.

Does it really affect your life if a woman wears an abaya? There's really no need to push to "leave it behind". Maybe for places like Saudi Arabia where it's forced upon women...but women should always have the option and choice. Abaya shouldn't have to be "left behind" if it is still fulfilling other women's personal modesty.

You're wrong is saying abaya has not be adopted as a universally Islamic dress. Of course, not by every single Muslim woman, no. But go to Western countries, you'll see plenty of Muslim women -not Khaleeji- who are wearing it and feel comfortable in it. Go to Pakistan. You will see Muslim women all over the world wearing abaya, especially since it's popularity in recent years in the gulf...they like the modesty it provides and start wearing it. Abaya has become for everyone now. And they have the right to wear it.

No one said wearing an abaya makes you a better person. Quite the contrary. It's all about intention. If a woman thinks abaya meets what she believes is modest, then by all means wear it. But obviously if someone is wearing it out of culture or by force, then it has no meaning.

I also think you're quite wrong in saying you only hide if you're insecure. That's quite anti-feminist as well. A woman has the absolute right to take control of her body, and if she says I'm going to cover it with this "black tent", as you call it, it's up to her. How is that insecure? Should a woman's body be up for public consumption just to be "secure"?? Some women feel more secure to have their body covered, than un covered.

& Lastly, I DO understand where you're coming from with men wanting to keep women "in their place". Absolutely. That is why I am against abaya when ENFORCED. But as a personal choice, absolutely not. And you should not be either.

Anonymous said...

Anon I think miss g is in denial so best to leave her alone.

Btw miss g the abaya is not an Arabic thing. I'm not an Arab I was born and bred in London and I wear it.

We pray you come to your senses!

miss ghesquiere said...

I'm losing track of the anonymi...
Anon #2. Sorry for my late reply. I didn't have time this week. I appreciate when your arguments are made clear like this. 1) you argue that the abaya is a religious garment and that it is mentioned in the quran. A blog post comments section is no place to get into the whole literal vs. contextual Quranic interpretation (whole other can of worms) debate so im gona side-step it here. You keep mentioning that the abaya has become a "universal symbol of Islamic dress". So naturally, If I am a Muslim, my Islam is going to be indicated by that garment, no? And you stress it is a religious obligation. Obligations bind. Obligations create categories: those who carry them out and those who reject. These categories create prejudices... see where I'm going? Religions are not kind to their own who do not follow their strictures. So it's not about choice.

2)You use the word "modesty" a lot. I am supposed to infer that "modesty" means obscuring an "immodest" body. I spent literally half the article trying to explain my rejection of "moralizing" the female body. One example of "moralizing" the female body is saying something like "should it be up for public consumption". Consumption. Like every time I wear shorts to the park I am a delicious cake waiting to be attacked by ravenous beasts. That kind of reminds of the way Muslim Brotherhood party members stare at me at my local supermarket. Gross. I argue, specifically, that a woman's body is a fact. It is not there to be consumed or rejected. It is just there. And I should be free, whatever I do with it or put on it, to retain my dignity. To put it bluntly: A woman with a body out for "public consumption" is a prostitute. A PROSTITUTE is consumed, eaten, decimated by the public. Because her body is made to be the apotheosis of female weakness, of sexual subservience to the male, her skin is an indicator of how "exposed" she is to "consumption." Your words, and the way you put certain statements together reflect the way you think about the female body. That is quite clear.
Placing limitations on the female body is one of the most important ways in which females have been controlled by their male-dominated societies throughout history. Clearly that is one feminist concept you disagree with. Why? I have no idea yet. Religious obligation? No question? Full stop?

3)When i wrote all those nonsensical statements like "all shia should be blown up" i was trying to make it clear that for me a statement uttered without question is a statement wasted.

4)Finally (and I really hope finally), no a woman wearing a black silk garment does not affect my life. But the abaya is not JUST a black silk garment. It is loaded with cultural baggage. It is a RELIC of an age where women were considered intrinsically weak, intrinsically sinful and in need of hiding. That's a FACT. As in, a historical FACT. Look at the way houses were built in the Gulf pre-oil/gas! Closed! No windows! The inside was the woman's domain. The public sphere was closed off for her. This same attitude (of which the above is just ONE) example, is concentrated in the abaya. That's the argument I make! I don't want to tear the hijab from your head, I want you to be AWARE of the history and the baggage contained in the abaya you wear. I prefer to spread awareness rather than hate. I didn't say it has no purpose. I said it carries a negative purpose with it from our past. If you would like to read about the topic I highly recommend "Women in Kuwait" by Haya Al-Mughni. She will explain in more detail that I can on my blog. Thank you.

miss ghesquiere said...

Anon 3: LOL. You're just proving my point. Almost all mosques and (many quite radical) Islamic cultural centers in London have been funded by Saudi's Wahhabist government since the 1950s. Google. Newspaper. Economist. Books.

Less pray, more research? :)

Anonymous said...

Well my local mosque isn't.

Almost all mosques are funded by Saudis WAHABIST government since 1950s.?!?

Where are you getting your sources from. Saudi isn't a WAHABIST government it's a salafi government. Do you know what that means?

Like I said you are in denial and we pray you com to your senses. End of discussion.

miss ghesquiere said...

Salafism is a radical strain of Islam that was developed in the 19th century by Mohammed bin Abdel Wahab and used by the Al Saud to unite and conquer the area currently known as Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism is Salafism honey cakes. Salafis think Wahhabism is a derogatory term. im not Salafi. dont care. Basic basic research. Do you know how to do that? Without bias?

How about you explore the facts, hater? Take your ignorance to your local Salafi sheikh. He might appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Hi again. It's the anon who was discussing abaya with you... You can just call me Anon L -if you'd like- because I see there's another anon and you said you were getting lost :p

Anyway, to reply to your points:

I think, yes, by wearing an abaya, your religion is indicated. It says "I'm Muslim". Whether you're wearing it by choice, or not. But it does serve that purpose, same as wearing a scarf on your head. I said I see jilbab as something Allah has asked women to wear. You can find it in the Quran yourself. Abaya is just one garment of many that fit into the description of jilbab (a loose over-garment). Therefore it fits a religious purpose. Whether you agree or not, that is just fact.

In regards to modesty. As a Muslim woman, I take what is considered modest from Islam. Like I said before, I'm not sure if you're Muslim anymore because it seems to me like you're not. And by saying that, I'm not trying to judge you or offend you, so really sorry if it comes across that way. But as you know, the Quran and hadith both speak of awrah and what we should cover -male and female. I'm sorry MB members look at you when you go to the supermarket...that's disgusting and since they're so "religious" they should know Allah has commanded them to lower their gaze.

You seem to largely ignore the way Western society looks at a woman's body and the objectification of it on a massive scale. "Because her body is made to be the apotheosis of female weakness, of sexual subservience to the male, her skin is an indicator of how "exposed" she is to 'consumption.' ".... Really? Have you looked at the fashion industry or ANY advertisement in the West? Women's bodies are being used to sell products and cater to a male-dominated society. Women are told how to look, dress, & act. Look at how many eating disorders are in the world because of it. You've go women's magazines dominated by stories of how to "please your man" or dress to get a boyfriend. Is that not putting women up for public consumption?

Will check out the book inshAllah. Thanks for recommendation.

miss ghesquiere said...

Anon L (thanks for the clarification):
This is the exact point at which there is no point to continue our exchange (don't get me wrong that I really appreciate it regardless!). I wanted to discuss things from a rational point of view meaning to break down an argument down to its basic components and think methodically. When you say that you are Muslim therefore you do x, y, z that is not a rational discussion. You are throwing the burden of explanation on "religion" rather than explain your beliefs yourself while trying to look objectively at the facts i presented as well as your own convictions while recognizing your points of bias (we all have points of bias). Like you said, you "take what is considered modest from Islam". YOUR version of Islam. And YOUR version of how the Quraan, hadith and canon should be interpreted. That means you may not recognize other people's interpretations as equally valid. Because your belief is not broken down into a conviction borne of a rational, methodical line of thought. This is why, I believe, you kept trying to classify me as Muslim/ Not Muslim and you kept trying to pinpoint how "religious" I was on your own scale all the while I was trying to say that I am not arguing from a religious point of view but a rational one. And if you would have liked to follow a rational line of thought but bring a logic which manifested itself in your own religiosity that was more than welcome! Unfortunately, we did not reach that point.

miss ghesquiere said...

Finally, let me say first I am not trying to say the West is better! I am not trying to say the West is perfect! I just said we owe Western feminists a lot and it will do us more harm than good to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The baby being their progress in gaining the female body dignity regardless of dress (in that is is a significant part of public discussion- and not a banned and incomprehensible topic like it is in the Middle East) and the bathwater being the misogyny that persists in Western society. Do not confuse the two and do not conflate them! Misogyny and prejudice is a deep-rooted and sticky trait in any society, it takes a long time and a lot of hard work to root it out. Hard work involves pushing hard to get rid of symbols of female oppression from the past, which is what I attempted to do by writing my response to Al Mayassa. I wanted to build a discourse around our everyday objects/garments and try to consider our relationship to them as modernizing societies as we move forward. Essentially my post was a "polemic", it was rant of sorts because this is a blog and not an academic journal. I was expressing my frustration as a young, educated girl at living in a society which cannot hold a rational discussion around the female body without resorting to moralization or throwing all the burden of explanation on "religious obligation. the Quran says so (in my interpretation)". I was expressing my frustration at what i see is backtracking, at the re-formulation of prejudice for the modern age. Going back to the topic of the West: you are right. The state of modern advertising sucks. But you know where I fear I will be followed home by a rabid 50-year-old if I wear a "kawaii_-style cute over-the-knee dress? Where I will be faced with a juice-shop worker making the "fucking" hand signal in my face while I'm running on the corniche minding my own business? Where I will be sprayed with water for my entire run because I did not respond to a Jet-skier's whistles? Where I will be followed by a group of boys in a car because my hair was half-blue? Milan? New York? London? NEVER! I will tell you where, HERE. MY COUNTRY. All of the above had happened to me among a looooot else.

Tell me which female population is less secure, is more preyed upon, is less dignified regardless of how she chooses her life, is less respected? US US US US US US! It's the horrible, unfortunate, inescapable fact! We need to conform to a specific set of rules, to live our lives bound by tradition (repackaged as religion sometimes), JUST to be granted the gift of diginity! I have heard the isiotic argument SO many times that our society "respects women more than the West" YES! hahah ONLY IF WE PLAY (more like SURRENDER OUR LIVES) TO YOUR PREJUDICED RULES. That is what I protest. That is why I put my arguments out there, to sort out the concepts and social structures which surround us for girls who would like to know. I would like to show people that there is another perspective out there and that diversity in thought is okay. Our societies clearly disagree with that seeing that the price of deviation is so high!!

I am going to close the comments on this post because I really do care about what people think and I like to take the time to explain my thoughts properly to those who ask or misunderstand. Again, I write to inform and discuss, not to attack and spread hate. Honestly, starting Wednesday I will simply not have any time to do so. Also, even though I am "online" and "not real" I do have human emotions and it is profoundly insulting to be called lost, deluded (or like some of my ex-instagram followers) be told that they wish I would burn in hell. I thank you for your contributions and really hope you read that book. It's great