Friday, October 06, 2006

scantily clad orientalists

Why is it that even liberal/left activist/journalists have to draw attention to “scantily clad” women in the “middle-east” to prove that Arabs, Muslims etc. are really not so bad - and that the “west” has nothing to worry about. A couple of recent examples:

First, from a supposed favorable article, making its rounds on the internet, regarding the Islamic resistance of Lebanon.

Nir Rosen writes:

“In the wake of Israel’s 33-day war with Hizballah, the 24-year-old Islamic movement has become the most popular political party in the Middle East. Here’s why that shouldn’t worry us.”

So, why should the Islamic movement not worry “us?” Rosen gives several reasons, but what is with this “scantily clad” nonsense?:

“There were youths in trendy attire, girls in tight jeans with hair exposed and who had turned their Hizballah T-shirts into stylish form-fitting fashion statements. "

And again:

“Throughout the country, women in chadors walk beside scantily clad beauties. "

So, what is going on here? Don’t be afraid of Hizbullah because they got “scantily clad beauties” amongst their supporters? But be afraid, very afraid of men with beards, and women wearing chadors. These kinds of articles, while supposedly favorable of Muslims and Arabs, infact, recycle the same old orientalist and islamophobic cliches - only this time to show the “west” Oh see, they are just like “us.”

It is also interesting to see how these liberal journalists define "us" i.e. those of us in the "west." The definition is based on how much skin a woman shows. This is, of-course, just another cheap form of misogyny that feels comfortable only around those women who are willing to cater to how men want them to be seen. And if women do not go along with those standards, then those women are feared and ridiculed. (Yes, I know some of us Muslims have another form of misogyny.)

And what if “they” were not like “us” - would that make it OK to then bomb ‘em?

Juan Cole has a similar blog entry, where he said that:

They are leveling the towns of the south altogether. They are hitting people who are not Muslim fascists.

And how does he “prove” that those being bombed are not “Muslim fascists” - well, you see, the women are scantily clad: The pictures he has posted on that entry says it all!

It is the kind of place where they play the pop music of Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram in the nightclubs.

And then there is this recent article on Iran in the mainstream press, suggesting that Iran is not so bad after all, why?

Well because there is this island, and here:

the island authorities draw the line at booze and bikinis,…and Women let their scarves slip and sang along, wiggling to the music in their seats or smoking hookahs...”

And so, what is the purpose of this island?

Well: “The idea is to show foreigners, especially westerners, that Iran isn’t what you’ve been seeing on the news for the past 30 years...”

And so the message is clear, Muslims (esp. Muslimas)- if you want to show you are “safe” and “not a threat” - well… you know what to do…

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