During a chat I had online with a Muslim man, the subject came up about why Muslim women wear the Hijab and the Niqab. Of course I know it's part of their religious belief and I do believe that most Muslim women who wear these traditional coverings, wear them willingly. Some I have heard, say that they feel liberated when they cover themselves. That is all well and good if they believe that.
In my mind though, I believe it is born of the same mind set as we see here in the Western world that has created a culture where women are subject to men. After all, in the Christian tradition women are taught to be subject to their husbands. Here are some examples from scripture where we are told how women and men are to think of themselves.
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
And in Ephesians 5:22-24
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
And again in 1 Timothy 2:11-15
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing.
There are many more examples in the Christian bible that I can show here to point out the fact that both men and women have been taught by the hierarchy of the church that in order to make certain that they remain in God's good graces, that men are in charge. Under God of course. Women are just not on the same level as their male counterparts.
The Muslim man I was chatting with explained his view from his religious standpoint of why he thinks it's a beautiful thing for Muslim women to be chaste and pure out in public and to cover their bodies from view by men other than their own husbands because if they flaunt their uncovered hair or their uncovered bodies they are inviting rape. Yes he actually said that to me.
I was amused. And so I mentioned to him that in this kind of belief system they are putting the responsibility for a woman's rape entirely on her shoulders. That this is a belief system that tells men they cannot control their own desires. I also asked him to consider the number of women in his culture who are covered from head to toe and still suffer rape. This he passed off with the comment that perhaps the Niqab was much to “clingy” to her body, thus showing the body's form, thus tempting the man to lust and therefore rape.
If this mindset were not so very similar to the mindset in the Western world where I live hadn't sounded so hilarious I would have become angry. But I didn't get angry with him for his stubborn tunnel vision on this subject. Because no matter how many times during our conversation I pointed to the fact that it's not a woman's responsibility to control a man's reactions or impulses toward her, he just wasn't getting the point. In his mind this tradition is a beautiful thing.
In my tradition it's not a beautiful thing because I do not and will not accept the responsibility to police every man I meet as I walk down the street. Wondering to myself constantly if I am too provocative, am I dressed in something that is going to invite lust in the mind of every man I see. If he does, then it's his issue to deal with accordingly, not mine!
So this thought occurred to me after that conversation. What if I turn the tables on the men I meet? I mean I do see great looking men sometimes that cause me to start to fantasize about having hot sex with him. According to religious teachings it's a sin for me to even have those thoughts. Both in the Christian tradition and the Muslim. Probably Jewish tradition as well.
So to keep me safe from sin, I think I will insist that all men cover themselves. After all women can lust just as much as men do.
And if I marry again, I will insist that every time my husband goes in public that he wear a paper bag over his head and a long trench coat. After all he's mine and he's hot and other women he meets have to be protected from the sin of lust and the temptation to approach him with a proposition to be unfaithful to me. Wouldn't that save some marriages from divorce! So these crazy, weak, lustful women who are ogling my man won't even look at a man walking round with a paper bad over his head and wearing a trench coat!
Yes I know it's the silliest idea ever dreamed up. But so are all the ideas that the religious dogmas purport. Let's just end religion once and for all and start thinking for ourselves. Let's stop being such sheep and drop all the pretense at piety. And be the creative, free people we were always meant to be.