Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 6.23

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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  1. Re: Blarney Stone – My Darling Dearest, who is also a former resident of Ireland, informs me that it is something of a local tradition for young men to urinate on said stone at night, when the tourists are gone.

    “Gift of gab” my sweet tooshie. You’ve been snookered by the locals. Don’t you feel grand?

  2. I’d imagine there’s some upper threshold of “filth” past which, it simply can’t get any more unhygienic. There was a urinal in the Tower of London that I remember being pretty disgusting.

    I’d like to get out there with swabs and pitre dishes before and after a good rain storm and see how it holds up.

  3. RE: Craigslist What I Want In a Woman

    There is something to be said for a guy who knows exactly what he wants in a woman and is unwilling to compromise.

    That something is usually, “He has an inflatable girl and an active fantasy life.”

  4. I heard about the locals getting drunk and urinating on the Blarney Stone also, just think of it as a workout for your immune system, like a morning run is for your cardiovascular or a night drinking is for your liver. What doesen’t kill us makes us stronger.

  5. Good thing I finished my coffee just before I read that Craig List response thingy. I’d have spilled it on my keyboard (But I have a back up, just in case…)

    I hope the guy who wrote than is lonely, and I hope he can’t afford a mail order bride. If he can, he will eventually gravitate toward that “solution” and that would be so sad for the girl.

    Well, being single is tough but it’s tougher if you’re an [email protected]

    rod

  6. The Craigslist guy is providing women the world over with a valuable service.
    In a few short sentences, he is publicly selecting himself out of your lives without even the slightest residual qualms that you might be missing something.

  7. Agree with everyone so far – Craigslist guy was a total jerk. Or a poe. Either way, the lady’s responses were brilliant.

    About the burqas (really?), I want to agree with the Frog Prez on this one, but it doesn’t feel right. I can kind of see the argument against it. What if the US banned some type of attire – like jeans (because they make you look like a hick), or high heels (because they hurt your feet), or ties (because they serve no function).

    Some people would dig those rules (“Yay! No ties!”). Some would be against the ban (“We need ties to look professional!”).

    I think the better response should be, “Is clothing regulation in line with our values as a society?”

    Still, I hate burqas, and what the represent to me, and whenever I hear a woman say she likes to wear them, or that they are “empowering”, I hear a voice in my head say, “liar.”

  8. Re: craigslist – Wow, what a freaking tool. I’m sure he muttered “dyke bitch” after reading those hilarious responses.

    Re: the burqa article – the comments are what really got me. Like this one by someone called “Paganmist” who is an American :

    “I know women who wear them by choice.

    If you live in a free country, you can’t be forced to be a slave, ergo, wearing a burqa does not constitute slavery.

    These women CHOOSE to allow their husbands and fathers to shape their lives, just as many people allow others to shape their lives. But they have always had a choice in the matter, and at any moment could choose to do what they want to do, rather than what others want them to do.”

    I like the whole “if you live in a free country you can’t be forced to be a slave” bit. So…by this person’s line of reasoning, all those honor killings that happen in the West are, what, assisted suicide?

  9. Well, Datajack, apparently it’s also about the fact that in a burqua (unlike other extremely modest dress that is NOT being banned), you can’t even see the person’s FACE.

    Sarkozy:

    “In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity,” Sarkozy said to extended applause of the lawmakers gathered where French kings once held court.

    “The burqa is not a religious sign, it’s a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement _ I want to say it solemnly,” he said. “It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.”

    I don’t know, I know what you mean about the whole thing not feeling right, but I mean, the thing about jeans or whatever (I would ban A LOT of stuff if I were the fashion czar, starting with crocs ), is that though they might signify whatever offensive thing to the viewer, the burqa literally renders the wearer faceless.

  10. …I guess you couldn’t really see Tammy Faye Bakker’s face, either…I meant that you wouldn’t be able to identify a (missing or suspicious or illegally trafficked, or for that matter, someone with bruises all over because they get beaten) person.

  11. My boyfriend’s father who was stationed in Afghanistan for a year brought back burqas for all the female daughters as Christmas gifts. Which was priceless.

    We joked about putting them on and then going out drinking.

    We took photos of ourselves wearing them and groping each other.

    Fun with burqas… who knew?

    If I could outlaw some item of clothing in the US it would be toe socks.

    /shudder

    Just thinking about them gives me the willies.

  12. @whitebird: I completely see where you’re coming from re: can’t see the face. In that case, it can essentially be used to conceal the wearer’s identity. Can you imagine the shenanigans that could ensue in middle school?

    I can think of two reasons that women would “chose” to wear them:
    1) It will make her father or husband unhappy if she didn’t wear it. Since in some traditions, she is basically property, making her father/husband unhappy will surely lead to her being made unhappy. Obviously, she shouldn’t feel like she is property, so this is a bogus (please don’t sue me!) argument.

    2) If she has spent her whole life in a burqa, she may feel quite naked without one in front of strangers. This is (unfortunately) a completely legitimate argument, as no one should be made to feel uncomfortable. Of course, this doesn’t address the root of the problem – that she shouldn’t feel uncomfortable without one. But what if she does?

    It’s a sensitive issue, I suppose. I really, really, hate burqas (burqii?), so I want them gone from everywhere, but that doesn’t mean I can accept legislating them away.

    I think I would be most uncomfortable by stating, “I hate these things because I believe they dehumanize women, therefore I support banning them because they conceal identity.”
    :)

    What do you think?

  13. @DataJack: I think that the issue is more complex than the two choices you offered. For starters, I would add

    3) An urge to have absolute control over the image that you project to the world. I think that this is the same urge that causes people to opt for cosmetic surgery and to use online avatars.

    4) A positive feeling of self-sacrifice. This is the same warm glow that people get when they give their change to the Ronald McDonald house or when they use their vacation to repair the homes of the poor and disabled. If you grew up believing that Allah would be pleased if you covered yourself, you would probably get a warm, fuzzy feeling from doing it.

    I’m sure that there are other reasons that women would consider wearing burquii, and I would be surprised if their decision was based on only one reason.

    As for whether burquii should be banned, I don’t know. I have always supported a person’s right to dress how they want unless it presents a danger to others. There are some dangers involved in women wearing burquii outside of the home, but I can’t say whether these would outweigh their right to dress crazy.

  14. @durnett: Good points, I didn’t mean to make my list seem exhaustive. Although I think your point (4) above is weak (not your description of it; their use of it as a justification), there is no denying it can be viewed as legitimate.

    It is just weird that people allow their religions to dictate how one dresses/behaves. Actually, it is kind of the textbook definition of religion (control), but it is still weird to me.

    Did you know that all baptized Sikh men have to carry a freaking sword everywhere they go? That must make air travel a lot of fun. And going to court, school, etc.

    All that being said, there will be French Muslim women who will not be happy if the ban goes into law. And, I think there will be a bunch of them that will secretly be very happy.

  15. I’m a little ambivalent about the birqa thing. I know from a western and feminist perspective, it’s seen as a form of discrimination. And from their perspective there might be an element of that too, but I also think they feel a layer of protection. As someone else mentioned, maybe they just grew up with it, and so they feel naked without it. But I wonder if maybe they feel safe in there, and probably one of the reasons some of them don’t want to come out from behind the veil is because we don’t always provide an inviting atmosphere out here. And one of the things we do that provide a less-than-inviting atmosphere is nitpick on whether or not they should wear burqas. If they want to come out, let them come out on their own terms. Don’t force them.

    Furthermore, I don’t think that we need to legislate what people can wear; well, obviously, most laws do require some minimum amount of clothing, but aside from that, if someone wants to wear a garment that’s consistent with their beliefs, that’s fine. We pride ourselves in the west on not requiring religious attire. And that’s fine. If they don’t want to, they shouldn’t have to, but neither should we force them not to.

    And I know there are security and identification issues involved, but those can be handled with a simple open dialogue, without having to bring national or international news into it. In Canada, most Muslim women who choose to wear birqas or other such kinds of veils don’t mind lifting their veil briefly to confirm their identity. If necessary, have a female staff member and a private area where they can do it. We can reach a consensus on these little details if we make the effort.

    Maybe it’ll help if I put it this way; If you go to a clothing optional resort, clothing is optional. You’re not required to wear it, but no one’s walking around making sure everyone’s naked either. There are very few (that I know of… not that I’ve checked, or anything…) nudist colonies or resorts where clothing is outright banned.

    If a person comes to a western country from a country that requires this kind of “modest apparel”, we expect them to acclimate to our culture, but we forget that it’s going to take them some time to adjust to their new home. In their home country, that’s the way they did things, and that’s all they knew. It’s going to take them a while to get used to our way of life. Give them time, let them get comfortable.

    I don’t know; it seems a little hypocritical to me to criticize them for their clothing requirements and then impose new clothing requirements.

  16. @DataJack:

    “If she has spent her whole life in a burqa, she may feel quite naked without one in front of strangers.

    This is the most important point. Even though I think that it should be perfectly acceptable for women to show their chests and butts in certain public places, if I went to a nude beach in Europe, I would not personally feel comfortable showing those parts of my body that I have always covered up. I certainly wouldn’t like it if I were forced to show those parts of my body.

    The burqa thing is so much more complex than just something that men make women wear. If people are raised to wear them, it’s very difficult for them to just do without even if they accept that it’s theoretically OK for women to show their faces and hair in public.

    I guess what I’m saying is that the burqa is not the cause of misogyny and oppression, but rather a result of it (although it is certainly a circular issue). We need to remove the reasons why women wear burqas rather than just removing the burqas.

  17. @DataJack: I’m with you in having mixed feelings about this. If someone chooses to wear oppressive clothing, isn’t that their option? Yet it is not entirely a personal choice since it is culturally dictated, and it only applies to women, so in some ways it oppresses all women, not just the one wearing the burqa.

    On balance I have to oppose Sarkozy on this one, though, since disgusting and dangerous as it may be to allow a subculture that oppresses women, monkeying with the rights of adults to give consent to participating in such a subculture gives the majority too much power over all minority subcultures, not just those I find abhorrent.

  18. I’m pretty sure that women don’t grow up wearing burqa or niqab. I often see families walking around with the boy and girl children in western clothes (in the U.S.A) and the wife covered. Same for photos from Middle East news stories. I was under the impression that it is something that is chosen or imposed on girls as they approach marriagable age (or, more to the point, menarche). Any experts on this?

  19. @durnett:

    From the toe-shoe FAQ:

    “CAN I WEAR FIVEFINGERS IF I HAVE WEBBED TOES OR SYNDACTYLY?
    Unfortunately the design of FiveFingers does not accommodate webbed toes or Syndactyly. We are unable to make custom FiveFingers to fit specific foot needs.”

  20. @Finn McR: You are right, female children do not have to wear burqas, as they are not considered a temptation yet. Once they have entered puberty (or are married, whichever comes first), they must wear one, or risk being such a temptation to men that society will literally collapse. But that does not mean they haven’t grown up with it – they’ve grown up knowing that was what was supposed to happen.

    My cousin converted to Islam a couple years ago (her mom is Wiccan, and the rest of the family is Roman Catholic. Christmas dinner got a whole lot more interesting), and she loves wearing the hijab for these reasons:
    @durnett:

    3) An urge to have absolute control over the image that you project to the world…

    4) A positive feeling of self-sacrifice. This is the same warm glow that people get when they give their change to the Ronald McDonald house or when they use their vacation to repair the homes of the poor and disabled. If you grew up believing that Allah would be pleased if you covered yourself, you would probably get a warm, fuzzy feeling from doing it.

    But, her reasons are obviously different – raised western, and as an extremely curvaceous and attractive girl, but a really shy personality, she uses it as an escape from all the negative attention she can’t handle. She says, and it sounds not a little ironic to western ears, that she feels like when she put on the hijab, she was treated like a person for the first time in her life. All they saw was her face, and all they heard was her own mind – no staring at her breasts, no watching her ass as she walked away, no leering, no suggestive comments.

    Though I can’t image she’d ever don a burqa, at least not in Canada. And while I can understand why she feels that freedom now, I think it’s still a matter of treating a symptom and not a cause -no woman should have to wear a freakin’ trenchcoat in July just so she won’t get harassed at work. It’s not her bloody responsibility to ‘remove herself from temptation’ because of stupid men (and women).

    I already summed up my opinion on the burqa ban on my friend’s facebook wall, so I’ll simply paste that here:

    Ludicrous. Egregiously paternalistic, sexist, and insulting. *Obviously* the burqa is a symbol and tool of female enslavement, and any sensible person would feel uncomfortable seeing them. But banning them would be like someone telling Western women: no no, we want you to be free – now take off your clothes and wander around naked in full view of everyone or you’re going to jail! I’m not sure what they hope to accomplish by further punishing the victims here. Those who actively feel they’re being shamed by wearing it can take it off anytime as is. Those who still wear it do so because they think it will be shameful to take them off (for all the usual horrible desert sky fairy misogynistic reasons we’ve come to know and love). They will only feel horribly violated to be forced to expose themselves in public. Instead of being covered because one set of men thinks they should, they’re being told to go uncovered because another set of men thinks they should. Why not put all that effort into creating basic human rights education for all citizens? Or prosecuting the men who still light women on fire? Or cracking down on the kitchen-ring of female genital mutilation practitioners?

  21. Re: Toe socks, flip flops…

    I saw a woman wearing toe socks WITH THE TOES CUT OFF (individually, like fingerless gloves) with PLATFORM FLIP FLOPS the other day. I wanted to take a picture so bad that I felt dizzy. Did I mention that the socks were like green and pink stripes, so no eye could avoid noticing?

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