Her Midwest Burqa
Throughout the Middle East, many Muslim women wear burqas. It is meant to conceal the woman’s identity, and in the West tends to be seen as a cruel manifestation of a chauvinistic patriarchy, where women are repressed sexually.
Note: I didn’t say that. The West did.
Enter Ms. Bees’ anecdote. To fulfill a broad prompt for an English class, one of Ms. Bees’ students volunteered to wear a burqa for a period of time, and then to write a report about her experiences.
What makes this not your run-of-the-mill-Midwest-girl-wears-a-burqa story is because the teacher reflects on the effect the burqa has on the onlooker.
That’s when I realized that something else was going on in my brain. Maybe it was the religious feeling of the garment, or just the girl’s courage, but I was treating Lisa with an entirely new level of respect and deference.
The sociological impact of a burkha is not, apparently, limited to its native lands. It’s a hardwired response – the cause and effect are not where I thought they were. I couldn’t resist my reaction to Lisa if I’d tried.
Of course, the post laps at the resident burqs-are-a-symbol-of-a-latent-patriarchy Kool-Aid, but this excerpt brings a point of contemplation: However much burqas keep women from expressing themselves — which, perhaps, they don’t — they do, in a sense, confer an “entirely new level of respect and deference.”
Is it time for the West to stop using the burqa as a symbol of repression, or are her albeit pulled-out-of-context comments also out of line?