Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Darth Vaders


At breakfast in our hotel we were surrounded by women dressed like this. We saw them often in the street. It is very hot in Middle Eastern countries and Malaysia is apparently 'cooler'. I am pleased they don't come to Melbourne for our winter. We stayed in a tourist area and so did they. They like Malaysia because most of the food in KL is halal.

While at home if I see one I stare at them hoping my eyes tell them that because of the form of dress, they are not welcome in Australia, it was the opposite in KL. I did not look at them but took them in in peripheral vision and in passing glances. But I looked enough to see them staring at us. Apparently ugly old white men are of interest to them.

By now, you will have picked up that I am not keen on their dress. I had been almost convinced that they prefer to dress like this for reasons of modesty. After observing them during our stay, I can only conclude no one would choose to dress like this for the sheer impracticability.

Modesty fell out the window when I noticed how they painted their nails. A high class prostitute would not have had better finger nail jobs than these women.

It had never occurred to me about how they eat. Think about it. How do you eat in public and not show your face? I can tell you, it is awkward. It must be a damn bitch when you have a cold.

We were waiting outside the hotel as many returned to the hotel from shopping expeditions with their husbands and at times children. I watched one get out. She reached into the car to get her child, often not the easiest thing to do. A gust of wind blew and her eyes were covered by her veil blowing up. There must have been a double layer as her face was not exposed but she couldn't see. She almost dropped her child, her shoe came off, she teetered and stumbled and then recovered.

R reminded me of a couple who were sitting in the hotel lounge area, a DV and her husband. His mate arrived, they kissed, embraced and walked arm in arm outside where they sat, ate, smoked and took tea. They had a wonderful time. They were almost like old lovers catching up twenty years later. Meanwhile his DV wife sat on in the lounge. We had coffee and a snack. She just sat on, and on.

This is not about modesty. This is pure repression of women by men who get around in very normal clothing and speak and act as the rest of the human race do. To make women wear clothing like this by cultural indoctrination from a young age and repression is a disgrace. They are semi disabled by what they wear, viewed as suspicious by most of the world and have isolated themselves from general society where communication depends strongly on being able to read facial expressions.

A few things occurred to us while we ate breakfast. What if one of their kids gets lost in a shopping centre? How could they ever find their mother among all who looked the same. Actually, they don't all look quite the same. There are different body shapes. This led us to another thought. A bloke could say, my wife is so beautiful. But how would you ever know? Hey man, are sure you sure that woman who is tagging along behind you is really your wife? Her shape and eyes look right, but are you sure? We did see a couple who even had their eyes covered. Never mind the tourists photos who could be him with anyone.

Fully veiled women in black is crap and I will have no truck with it at all and nor should any woman who believes in the so quaint old expression of equality of sexes. What we saw was pure oppression and making women into disabled non human creatures.

Australia would do well to take a lead from France and ban such outfits.

I must have mentioned my issues with them to a friend as this 'joke' photo arrived in my email inbox. Even worse is seeing them make their daughters wear such garb.

Moslems unite but not in Malaysia. Malaysian Moslem women wear a scarf but don't hide behind black.

I have no problem with the natives wearing their pretty traditional dress. One does love the smiling and happy natives. (that is irony, in case you don't get it) There is lot more to how the Darth Vaderers dressed.

I am really being intemperate now, but how dare they infringe on us and spoil our breakfast with their silly garb and how dare they stare us like WE are the freaks.

18 comments:

  1. I think that's a good point about lost kids.

    I imagine it would be hard for the child to find it's mom. Maybe the women would help though? Hopefully....

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  2. I don't really care about any of it except people covering their face. Even a hijab is less off-putting than those idiots who walk around inside buildings with hoodies on.

    Not frightened of terrorists. Some of them dress as lifesavers, or in lycra bike-riding outfits, or dye their hair red.

    This sort of extremism seems more common in former colonies - a reaction against occupation. But in Australia it seems to be the sort of statement that can't be justified at all. After the Carnita Mathews debacle it seemed more like an eff you than a declaration of modesty.

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  3. Grow up, you're being selective and you know it.

    I'm offended by the hair-care products along Chapel Street: tattoos, piercings, tits hanging out, who are they trying to impress?

    This is commerce, pure commerce, done up cattle. I'd root the whole street and respect none of them.

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  4. Dina, you are making it worse. "What does your mummy look like", says another woman trying to help.

    FC, I agree with hoodies. I really dislike them now. They have come to stand for something.

    The Mathews woman set things back considerably.

    RH, things can always be brought back to money. Don't you have some clever words to use instead of root?

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  5. No.

    But I've clever words to get one.

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  6. Andrew

    I'm surprised at your intemperance.

    What's the point (as you say you do in Australia) of staring at such women (glaring is probably really the word) to communicate your message of unwelcome? With the exception of converts such as Carnita Matthews, they will have internalised the appropriateness of such garb through their upbringing and entire world-view.

    On your own hypothesis, women with their faces covered are the victim of this. If you want to glare at anyone you should glare at any menfolk with them, but even that is unlikely to be much of a solution.

    The impracticality which you point out is not logically inconsistent with any desire to dress modestly.

    Don't you think you are being a tad over-sensitive with your view that they were staring at you? And even if so, where's the harm to you in that? It can hardly be because you couldn't stare back.

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  7. I so much agree - where are all the feminists on this issue...Read "Infidel" http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/14/books/14grim.html?pagewanted=all its a must read for those of us trying to undestand - she said they they were bought up in Somalia to see tolerance and generosity as weakness and were instructed to start the fight rather than wait...its a heavy duty book but unputdownable.

    I have noticed first at High Point Shopping centre and again at Werribbe Plaza that groups of them will not give way when you are walking and Alison who is little, and pretty had been slammed in the shoulders as they pass - not by accident they changed course to do it... she was hurt and I didn't know how to react quickly enough. She said to me "Mum I didn't have any bad feelings towards them but this happens all the time to me... they hate us." hard words to hear but I see no evidence she is wrong - its generalisation...but I understood more after reading this book - its about handing the hate down -

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  8. The opression of the women and girl children bothers me, but I won't be staring at people making them feel uncomfortable just because they're dressed differently. what bothers me more though is the coughing and sneezing behind the veil if they have a cold. Do they carry spare veils and change them often to be clean or do they just keep these germ laden snotty veils on their faces? urk!! I've wondered about the eating as well. Perhaps they only eat in their homes with the veil removed.

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  9. ooh I'm so very please that I offend RH with my tattoos and piercings.

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  10. Marcellous, I am surprised at myself. Staring or glaring is something I rarely have an opportunity to do. It is rare for me to see any woman with their faces covered. I may have exaggerated slightly. No doubt if I saw more, I would notice them less.

    That they wear such clothing for reasons of modesty has long and still continues to be argued by many with an opinion, Moslems and non Moslems.

    Also argued is that it is the woman's choice. I now can't agree with that at all. I find impossible to imagine anyone would choose to dress like that. As you suggest, it is the men who I should have issue with and I think you are right.

    I don't think I was being paranoid about them staring at us. I asked my partner whether he had noticed, and he hadn't. I said, be discreet but have a look. He agreed. While there were some other westerners around, two older men together seemed to be of interest to them.

    I don't want Australia to be a country of religious extremes, repressed women and people who isolate themselves from general society by what they wear. There seems to be enough countries around the world like that already.

    MC, I am aware of the book but I have not read it. What you say about Highpoint I have heard before. Also that there is an arrogance from many of them. Is it not like a nasty anonymous comment on a blog. You can't see the person's face, you can't 'read' anything about them. Were they haters, were they just careless or distracted? I remember walking along a narrow footpath with R in KL and a couple, man and veiled woman were approaching. Normally we and they would form a single file to pass. But not, we were pretty well forced off the footpath. Maybe that is cultural. Maybe dropping litter on the ground is cultural, but I don't like it.

    River, at home they would have their veils removed. Her children, husband and female friends would see her face. As the garb drags on the ground and gets dirty, I guess they change pretty often. I expect the face veil which they pull forward to take in food from the side, are detachable and easily changed.

    Touche Fen. I should have mentioned I have tatts and piercings, mostly non visible in normal clothing. The piercings have healed over now. It was fun at the time and no regrets. Upper torso piercings. Think of the first letters of personal assistant, and one that might be similar to quiche.

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  11. Fenstar you're rude to me but I'm always polite to you and shall continue the effort.
    Don't dress as lamb.

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  12. There are a lot of Middle Eastern families (very wealthy ones) who summer in the cooler climes here in Geneva and it does make me sad seeing some of the women clad all in black, pushing prams, whilst their husbands are free to wear shorts, thongs and dress/behave as they like.

    We were only discussing this issue at dinner last night with friends. Isabel is a UN rep who is a regular visitor to Afghanistan and various other 'stans' and said that millennia ago, the covering was considered practical against desert winds.

    But not black and it's certainly not desert storms or 'practicality' that's the reason any more.

    You also see a lot of gorgeous, modern women who reluctantly have to reach up for their cabin bags to put all that repressive gear on before they land back home. Very, very sad.

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  13. Kath, you illustrate the point perfectly. They don't choose, society and men choose for them. Sad is a good word.

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  14. Well you've started something here Andrew! I'm not buying into it but I will say that image is too funny hahahahaha!

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  15. Grace, the subject is a very divisive one. Good idea to stay out of it.

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  16. ooh nice one, I can't imagine taking mine out. Well one is stuck hard, it will have to be cut!

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  17. Anonymous12:03 pm

    One memory from my holiday to Lankawi Island was to witness one mother in the full regalia having to swim in the ocean with it with her children whilst dad was sunbaking on the beach in his speedo's. At the same resort I witnessed the same womean eating her lunch - she could only lift her veil slightly after the husband gave permission to take a mouth full at a time.

    I too see it as repression against their women folk.

    I love this snippet from Wiki, 'Some interpretations say that a veil is not compulsory in front of blind, asexual or gay men.'

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  18. Anon, it really was the double standards that struck me. Perhaps they were staring at us because they thought we would be nice guys to not wear a veil with.

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