Monthly Archives: September 2010

Aside

I realise it isn’t so much about modesty as it is about feminism. Perhaps that could be an interesting post: How does Modesty coexist with Feminism? Found an interesting article. I can’t wait for the book mentioned in the article.

A Case of Mistaken Identity

One of the common sentiments of women considering dressing more modestly is: I don’t want to look like I belong to a religious group of which I am not a part.

It is common for women who are thinking about covering their hair to worry about being mistaken for a Muslimah or Orthodox Jewish woman. The likelihood of this being the case can increase or decrease depending on the demographics of your area.

Women who are wearing longs skirts or prefer cape dresses worry about being mistaken for a  woman who follows Plain Dress guidelines or an Anabaptist when she herself is not.

Again, all this is much more of an issue when you are trying to determine your own rule-of-thumb for modesty. You are also less likely to stick out if you are following guidelines like the LDS where modern fashion is still the norm.

I have been mistaken for both a Muslim and Jewish woman. The facial piercings should really be a tip-off people. It doesn’t bother me. While I have been mistaken as a member of a different religious group, the mistakes did not come with judgment or anger.

I consider mistaken identity a natural part of the way I dress. I do tend to follow the Jewish laws of Tznius with respect to dress, and to a much lesser extent, my dealings with men. I am more commonly mistaken for a hijabi in the summer when I favour scarves to cover my head wrapped similarly to the Spanish style (tutorial). In the winter, I wear toques and berets, making it slightly more likely that I’ll be mistaken for a Jewish woman. You do realise you can see my bangs right?

Yup. It’s seasonal.

As long as people aren’t belligerent about it, I don’t mind pointing out how they can easily spot that I’m an oddity. “See these bars through my lip, tongue, nose and ear? Note the cross hanging from my neck. See the knee caps and collar-bone?” I am happy that I can educate whomever. I wasn’t always. It took me sometime to get comfortable with my style as well as voicing my opinions about modesty in general. I promise, it does get easier.

Questions? Ask away!

Smoking Lily Find

For any of you who don’t know the Smoking Lily it’s all kinds of dangerous, expensive fun. Beautiful screen printed garments and accessories – And local to boot.

While at Smoking Lily this past Sunday, my friend, Skate Coach, and I had a lovely chat with the woman working there. It turns out you can get any print you like on any shirt you like at no extra charge. I didn’t ask but I’m hoping that this means I can get the singular large prints that usually appear on the front on the back.  How fantastic would that be? Beautiful prints and no one staring at my torso!

Anywhoo, that is somewhat besides the point. While in the tiny pit that has long tried to lure vast sums of money from my wallet, Skate Coach happened to find a bin of scarves. $8 scarves. Below are the two that I followed me home. I went to Smoking Lily, bought two things, and spent only $16. Miracles occur everyday people. You just need to know where to look. On Sunday, that miracle could be found in my bank account balance.

Modesty in the Doctor’s Office

I was reading a bioethics blog about modesty in the medical profession. Note that there is a naked male statue pictured in the post which can be found here.

And so the question: Does modesty have a place in the doctor’s office? And if so, what does it look like?

Being a younger, and fortunate,  woman I have yet to need serious medical attention in a hurry. My family doctors have always been female. And you can rest assured that I know how lucky I am to have even found a GP let alone, a young female doctor.

I see a registered massage therapist (RMT) on an ongoing basis. Female. Acupuncture – Female. Chiropractor, well, he’s a man. And that is the one concession I’ve made to date. I do have to remove my hat or headscarf for him to properly adjust all the crooked parts. He does have to touch my back, head, arms and legs.

At first, having a man doctor, besides my dentist, was a bit strange. I haven’t looked for a female chiropractor because the one I see direct bills the insurance company and gives me a student rate. No one gives you that deal but him. My personal way of rationalising this is that my clothes are on, and I no longer have headaches or tingly feet.

I don’t imagine that I’ll have a male maternity doctor. While I know several female doctors, I imagine that when I have a screaming, pooping, bundle of fun, I’ll head to a midwife. That’s a whole other discussion which doesn’t fall under the purview of this blog.

Should I require emergency medical attention where my body would need to be exposed to medical professionals who are also men I’d deal with it. I can tell you I might hate every damned second of it but it couldn’t be any worse, or more uncomfortable, than the predicament I was already in before I got there. I would only hope that they would conduct themselves in a manner we have come to expect of medical professionals.

What are your thoughts?

Cultural Modesty Standards – Part 2

Well it’s better late than never or so they say.

This is a response to Part 1 of the post.

I am not sure how I would deal with having to uncover to meet a cultural/political norm. I am uncomfortable with the idea of having to remove my head covering in any situation where there are boys to whom I am not related. This LiveJournal entry was the most thought-provoking post or article I’ve seen in quite some time.

Hotcoffeems has been put between the proverbial rock and hard-place. Family is important. In  this instance I feel like the political statement is more important. My mom and I may have friendly and irritating debates about the fact that I don’t run around without my hair covered, but it isn’t complicated by the fact that I’m also making a contradictory political statement. Even if I were, I don’t live in a country where things are so polarised.

There was an interesting comment about how the Jewish community or communities would look at an issue such as this.

My question about this is, are there no legitimate religious opinions in Islam that hold that a full hijab scarf is unnecessary? I know that in Orthodox Judaism it is pretty normative that hair covering is required, but different communities and different sages have disagreed about HOW to cover your hair. In fact, there are some rabbis who have even posited that it’s no longer a requirement in this age and place! There is disagreement about WHO is a legitimate Jewish law decider, but generally in our religion it’s understood there are often various (sometimes vastly differing) religious opinions on a topic that are all valid. For instance, Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews do things very differently but often see what the other group does as religiously legitimate… for THAT group. Plus we tend to follow our rabbi’s opinions and if they reach a legitimate conclusion from serious study of the texts, it’s okay if that opinion isn’t exactly the same as someone else’s. There are still community norms, but when you travel from place to place they vary quite dramatically. I don’t know how it is in Islam, but in Judaism, context and culture and tradition can indeed matter when making religious decisions.

In Orthodox Christianity this could fall under Pastoral Guidance or Economia. Perhaps, in the Protestant denominations, these lines would fall down denominational divisions as opposed to two different congregations of the same denomination having practical differences.

So what is the answer? I have no clue.  I hope that Hotcoffeemsis able to find a way to cover to her satisfaction that also satisfies her family and her political associations.

And what are your thoughts?

My question about this is, are there no legitimate religious opinions in Islam that hold that a full hijab scarf is unnecessary? I know that in Orthodox Judaism it is pretty normative that haircovering is required, but different communities and different sages have disagreed about HOW to cover your hair. In fact, there are some rabbis who have even posited that it’s no longer a requirement in this age and place! There is disagreement about WHO is a legitimate Jewish law decider, but generally in our religion it’s understood there are often various (sometimes vastly differing) religious opinions on a topic that are all valid. For instance, Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews do things very differently but often see what the other group does as religiously legitimate… for THAT group. Plus we tend to follow our rabbi’s opinions and if they reach a legitimate conclusion from serious study of the texts, it’s okay if that opinion isn’t exactly the same as someone else’s. There are still community norms, but when you travel from place to place they vary quite dramatically. I don’t know how it is in Islam, but in Judaism, context and culture and tradition can indeed matter when making religious decisions.