Tag Archives: feminism

Third Way Style – Featured Blog

It’s time for a new monthly feature: Featured Blog. Once a month (fingers crossed) I’ll be bringing you some awesome blog.

This month, for your reading pleasure, I bring you Third Way Style.

This blog is unbelievably fantastic!

I am a Mennonite, and as a family we attend Rockway Mennonite Church. I am a member of the Mennonite church because I believe in the Mennonite Confession of Faith. There is a false belief out there that in order to get along, we must all water down our beliefs to some lowest common denominator. Peace comes when we can allow others to come as they are, and accept them as different, without trying to change them to our way of thinking. I have found my faith as a Christian constantly deepen through conversations with people of other religions. I hope this blog will foster that very sort of dialogue

I was specifically interested in her posts on head covering. You can see all the entries she’s posted under the head covering category here. Below are three of my favourites.

Niqabitches

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am not a fan of the ban of the niqab in France, or the similar proposed ban in Quebec. Every argument for it has been pretty effectively squished. . . . .In France, two students (one in poli sci, one in communications) has decided to create a tongue in cheek critique of the niqab ban. They’ve donned the niqab, leaving only their eyes visible from the waste up, but are wearing miniskirts with bare legs exposed down to their high heels.

You can see the video below, but seriously, go read her awesome blog.

Bonnets and Burqas

Christians actively work toward mutuality with our Muslim neighbours. Mennonites, perhaps more than most other Christian denominations, can relate to Muslims. Both communities identify themselves outside of the mainstream, and both have earned the term “radical.” This is most visibly represented in their attire, in that both Mennonites and Muslims have a tradition of covering their women.

Christian Women’s Prayer Caps and Veilings

To begin with, while those who cover their heads now are the exception, this was not always so. Women in European traditions wore head coverings up until very recently (think of ladies in the ’50s always going out with hat and gloves). It is really only within the last fifty years, or so, that this has gone out of fashion (much to my chagrin – I love hats).

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Aside

Ten minute video with three different muslim women. One is dressed in the secular fashion, one hijab and one niquab.

Aside

I’ve been poking around on the net looking for some good modest sports attire. I found something that I thought some of you might be interested in. Hijab for Swimming. It’s not a Burquini and seems to me that you … Continue reading

Mind Your Plate! Or Should You Mind His?

Mind Your Plate is an Ortho-ism referring to fasting that I first heard on the Our Life in Christ pod-cast. Fasting is part of pastoral discretion. There are guidelines that, in general, everyone will follow. Then there are those who, under the direction of their priest, wont follow all or any of the general rules.

The question: Who is responsible for a man’s wandering mind, you or him?

There are a couple of schools of thought when it comes to why we cover and who’s responsible for  lusty thoughts caused by various modes of dress. At the extreme ends of the spectrum the theories are:

  1. Men are entirely responsible for their own thoughts regardless of what a woman does not cover.
  2. Women are entirely responsible for instigating men’s inappropriate thoughts – so cover up.

My personal thoughts fall somewhere in the middle.

I think ultimately you cannot control or prevent men from being the visually motivated creatures they are.  Denying men are visual creatures is disingenuous. It is not a slight or insult to men. It is a simple fact. Nothing more and nothing less. Nor can you control or prevent any particular thought or thought process.

You cannot hold a woman entirely responsible for the thoughts or actions of a man regardless of her clothing. However, going out barely dressed will elicit certain reactions and she should be cognisant of that fact. It is not that she deserves cat-calls or that she should be assumed to be “easy” but that we must all take responsibility for how we interact with the world.

Two clichés come to mind: “Actions speak louder than words” and “We teach people how to treat us.” In the context of our clothing and men (though I suppose women really should be included for the sake of political correctness) this means our clothing shows the world what we think of ourselves and how we expect to interact with the people around us.

A scantily clad woman, perhaps unfairly, indicates that she has little to offer. She offers the world what little she believes she possesses. A woman who is more modestly attired demonstrates her pride in herself. She knows that she has much to offer the world; they can enjoy her company if they demonstrate their respect towards her.

There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us and not we them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they would mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.  ~Virginia Woolf

I do not get dressed in the morning thinking about whether or not the men of the general public will be staring at me. I do think about if I’m going to flop out of my clothes or if I’m going to be comfortable with the amount of coverage. I do think about showing too much.

The way I dress, or any other woman dresses, cannot excuse the inappropriate behaviour of some men. We must all be responsible for ourselves. But I expect respect, and not to be treated as a “pretty girl.” I, therefore, dress the part.

It is a difficult issue. There is no “good answer.” I think as long as there are people we will run into these kinds of issues. I think that humans will continue to use their bodies and minds to manipulate and control in certain situations.

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.

Modesty and Feminism

I was reading the Globe and Mail on my way to work and came across this article about the resurgence of aprons as fashionable items. While this doesn’t have anything to do with modesty directly, it does discuss femininity and gender-roles related to one small item of clothing. It isn’t even a clothing item. It’s an accessory.

When discussing modesty in the modern world it is nearly impossible to avoid discussing feminism briefly. Many argue that modesty is the very opposite of liberation; it is anti-feminist. Modesty is thought to be a denial of your true self. In a culture where individuality is the supreme value, a denial of any part of your identity is declared anathema. (We’ll leave the “Modesty is a realisation of self and not a denial of self,” argument for another time.)

So the question is: Can an apron be just an apron?

The one quote that is truly irritating comes from Shira Tarran, a blogger for Ms. Magazine:

“These aprons are reinforcing ideas that domestic labour like cooking is women’s work and there’s nothing ironic or progressive about unpaid work, even if we want to wrap it up in a pretty decoration”

Dear Ms Tarran, no one said my husband couldn’t wear my cherry print apron in the kitchen. He may want to protect his clothes while making his fantastic grilled-cheese sandwiches.

The view-point that I think younger women tend to identify with suggests, “the apron doesn’t define the way it used to.”

Like other apronistas, she argues that the unforgiving work schedules that have threatened domestic life to near extinction today have conversely made the apron a symbol of respite – at least for some women.

My mom was born in 1950. I was born in the early 80s. In terms of personality we are the same woman born more than 30 years apart. Our conservatism and liberalism make us aliens to each other. For as long as I can remember, my mother has identified as a feminist. For most of my life I thought the feminists were all a bunch of old, crazy women who were out of touch with the modern reality. My mother and I illustrate the gap in 2nd and 3rd wave feminist thought.

I teach knitting classes. It is interesting how many women, who fall into the same generation as the second wave feminism, are picking up knitting needles as a hobby for pure enjoyment. Many women of this generation didn’t learn in their younger years because such a domestic art was a symbol of  enforced domesticity. Bowing to the patriarchy of old would elicit scorn from your enlightened and liberated peers.

Women of my generation ( approximately 30 and younger) haven’t had the same ideas to fight against. We have always assumed that we are the equal of men and, therefore, deserving of all rights and privileges that a man enjoys. We understand that we have the right to a career if we want it. Being a stay at home parent is a choice. Domestic arts could simply exist as a creative hobby.

Maybe that’s it, It isn’t a feminism issue as much as it is a generational issue. Younger women see vintage fashions and see the glamour and ideals of by-gone days. Women who lived through the early years of the 20th century have a different point of reference. An apron brings up all the memories of the fights they thought they’d won. The idea that younger women would throw all the previous generation’s efforts out the window and don symbols of feminine servitude is a disrespect at the most basic level. To our predecessors it is, to a far lesser extent, like winning one of the wars to preserve democracy and then turning around and running into the arms of the fascists or communists. The generational gap is really at the heart of the issue.

I don’t much care for militant feminism. I recognise equality in the human race. Equality is not defined as sameness. To me it really is just an apron. It represents nothing more than a fashion statement.

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