Tag Archives: Politics

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.

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.

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.

Cultural Modesty Standards

This entry is from the Live Journal community Modest Style and is reprinted with permission from the LJ user “hotcoffeems.” (Thanks again!)

This entry and the comments were facinating. This was one of those modesty issues that had never occured to me. What if I went somewhere in the world and my way of dressing was the same as a group with an opposing political or religious view to my own? Would I change?

Minimal editing has been done for context. Comments do not have usernames attached as their permission was not saught.

The entry was entitled: Changing Styles of Modest Dress

I’ve been hijabi for a while now, here in the US, from religious conviction.I just returned from a three-week trip to Algeria. While there, I got engaged. My fiance is a Kabyle.

Of note: In Algeria, there is a fairly sharp distinction culturally between those of Arab and those of Kabyle descent, particularly with people who are tribally identified as Kabyle (as Billal is). This extends to manner of dress. Women of more Arab tradition are the ones who wear hijab as we know it here; Kabyle women almost never cover their heads, although some older women wear a kerchief that leaves the neck exposed. Some of them actually wear quite-fabulous traditional Kabyle clothing; it was nice to touch down at Houari Boumediene Airport and see this, I was going, “OMG! Lookit the clothes! How cool!”

Actually there’s a wide spectrum of dress style in Algerie, from Western, often-revealing clothing, to full niqab. This in a country where 98% of the population is Muslim.

But: Wearing the hijabi style I’ve become accustomed to in the US in Algerie marks one as of the more conservative Arab tradition. Hanging around my fiance and his family and friends, it would have been inappropriate for me to do this, so I didn’t, only covering my head for prayer. I did continue to dress modestly, just not with full headscarf. Especially with older members of his family, it felt like a matter of respect, given the sometimes really contentious rift between Kabyle and Arab (of note: my fiance is a veteran of Algerie’s Civil War; he has strong feelings against the conservative “arabiste” style of Islam, for good reason.)

I have found that basically when we marry, I will be considered also tribally Kabyle. And the likelihood, right now, is inchallah I will be moving there, not him moving here.

So the thing is, I’ve had to kind of recalibrate my notions of hijab with certain cultural mores, because it’s a cultural identity issue. Given the amount of thought I’m putting into this, it’s not a matter of “hijab on, hijab off” fashion or convenience. It’s interesting though, because I *am* having to rethink my expectations.

Has anyone else had to adjust and adapt their modest dress conventions for cultural or identity reasons? Did you have difficulty doing so, or reconciling it with your religious beliefs? I don’t feel I’m compromising my religious beliefs, especially as my fiance and his family are just as good Muslims as anyone else, but it’s a rather jarring adaptation to make, mentally. But still, it has become part of my self-identity living in the US as a Muslimah, so it’s giving me a lot of food for thought.

I’ll share  my own thoughts in Part 2 next week.

Some comments on the entry:

These have been removed. It was pointed out that I only asked the poster of the original entry and not the posters of the comments. I appologise if I violated anyone’s sense of privacy or security. It will not happen again.


    You’re thoughts?