Thursday, January 24, 2013

Did I Really Just Get A Fashion Week Presentation? For A Burqa-Inspired Collection

I don't wanna put anyone on blast, but I actually just received an invitation to a fashion week presentation for a collection inspired by burqas. The designer is Urbana Chappa who's part Persian.

Now, I'm not Muslim (at least not that I'm aware of?), so who am I to criticize the practice... except someone who received an unsolicited invite for a show inspired by the following designer's statement:

"I'm fascinated by the way women in burqas can express so much through their eyes. It's both sexy and mysterious."

Part of me (wait, that's a lie -- all of me) wonders why a designer wants to glorify the subjugation of women who are reverse-objectified and, in many cases, have to veil and mask themselves until they're just a pair of anonymous eyes. Can we stop fetishizing women who are being forced into subservience? Really? We're not there yet? Y'all are wearing an ass-backwards pair of wack pants. On the other hand, this is Amurica, COT DAMN IT, and many women choose to cover their heads, and that's certainly a personal choice I can respect when made freely. But also, really? Sexy burqas? I'll sit this one -- and any potential pole-dancing-in-yarmulkes parties or other opportunities to shoehorn sexuality into religion -- out.

By the way, I CANNOT FUCKING BELIEVE I'm pointing to a Fox News piece, but they do have an interesting, well-written article on designer burqas.



Anonymous said...

Oy. That Fox article is a load of phooey if you ask me. Encouraging women to dress more conservatively?? What did they say in the nineties era of belly shirts and mini skirts?

BUT. I am all for people wearing/writing/practicing what they want in relation to religion and other beliefs. You want to wear a burqa? Please do! But don't do it because some bizarre patriarchal rule requires you to.

But at this point in my argument, I always get hung up on the whole 'voluntary' female genital mutilation thing. It's a brutal religious practice for many people around the world. In most states in the US, it's considered abuse or even attempted manslaughter.

BUT if these women are doing it to themselves based on their devotion to their own religious beliefs, does anyone have a right to stop them? Counties don't stop alcoholics from drinking themselves to death, so should they prevent a very risky and often life-threatening religious practice? And, if so, how?

Sorry for bringing in a (sort of) unrelated topic here but I'm fascinated by the grey area of our collective right to freedom of religion and the many issues this phrase overlooks.

Tamar said...

Maria: TOTALLY have had the exact same thought about female genital mutilation. It is definitely a terrifying and barbaric practice, and if it were up to me it would be banned, but yes, it goes back to that whole US-as-international-watchdog thing. Does the US (or, in this case, Westerners/ patriarchal, hegemonous (ostensibly) white leaders have the right to dictate what is and what is not appropriate for other cultures, countries and religions to practice. I think in the case of female genital mutilation, non-tribal involvement has been buoyed by victims like Somaly Man who've helped bring awareness to the plight of other victims in countries where FGM is forced upon them and they don't have a right, a say, or even a voice.

I don't know -- I think it's fucked up that France outlawed burqas, because if women freely choose to wear them, that's their prerogative. (It would extremely fucked up if a country banned yarmulkes, for example, though those aren't seen as a symbol of oppression, the banning of burqas could be seen as anti-Muslim, and the banning of yarmulkes easily could be construed anti-Semitic.) But, again I'm very much not into the sexualization of a religious garment many women are forced to wear.

Anyway, good talks!

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