While in France the subject of Muslim women and their chador, has created passionate debate for decades, the debate in other parts of Europe is becoming increasingly heated.
I have never been able to understand why the individual choice of a women in what garment she decides to wear, should perpetuate such fervent discussion, however, it appears to be the case in Europe. As you may have noted elsewhere in this website, I reject the premise that there is some inherent evil within the Muslim religion, any more so than there is in the Catholic one. And, even less the premise that the presence of the chador represents a danger to the moral fabric of our societies.
I fail to see how a women’s choice in exactly how much of her body she wishes to expose could be an indicator of the level of “evil” or “danger” within a society, either by covering up or uncovering up. And I fail to see how requiring women to conform to the traditions and customs of others, is “liberating” them. The best way to help women liberate themselves is to accept them as they choose to be, and help them develop their own individual talents to the maximum of their potential, (and which will be the main objective of the Global-Expats once built.)
The first time I arrived on a nude beach it was a bit of a shock, and while I do not choose to participate; it’s no big deal, to each his own. I would feel offended for example, if some one told me I was obligated to undress on a nude beach, and I assume women forced to remove their chador must feel offended as well. And, for those of you who would argue that none of these women wish to wear a chador, you have not been listening to the voices or discussions of these women. Granted the right of a Muslim women to not be forced to wear the chador is extremely important, however, their right to wear it is just as important. What is important here, is their right to choose.
I do admit that the chador represents a certain form of “domination,” however; this is far from being a uniquely Muslim or Arab problem. During my lifetime I have had several Muslim and Arab women friends, some even in arranged marriages, and their gender issues and partnership roles are the same that I have experienced with a Spanish husband and his family. However, what amazes me the most is that the same western women who advocate “off with the chador” for Muslim women, are the same who I hear say “they are all like that and you just have to deal with it” in referring to the proverbial ego-centric, macho-husband, whatever his nationality. Why is accepting domination from a western husband, acceptable and from an Arab one unacceptable, because in one case you are not obliged to wear something on your head or cover all of your body? I fail to understand.
Additionally, I believe that the chador is not necessarily a religious symbol, but a historically, practical consideration. I once spent the night in the Sahara desert, and while it was one of the most spectacular trips I have ever taken. Sand gets everywhere; in your hair, in your eyes, in your ears, in your mouth, in your clothes, and promise you, I can understand why people of desert regions choose to cover their heads, body and face. There are many examples of religious traditions developing from practical considerations. Would it be reasonable or even desirable to forbid them all ?
Granted while western societies are a bit more “legally” advanced in the liberation of women, culturally many of these societies have a long way to go. I always jokingly say that if you wish to liberate women worldwide, provide them with a washing-machine and dishwasher and she will take care of the rest. Now, granted you need to get running water and food on the table first, but my point is; give them a certain level of economic comfort and security and they will eventually liberate themselves.
When I first started my Global Expats.com project it was a website/portal designed to produce financial independence for myself and my children. However, due to recent developments in the Internet and after conducting several international market surveys, I believe that I have a plan that may not only assist trailing spouses to maintain careers and financial independence, but also assist women in disadvantaged situations and countries. However, for the moment I am, just trying to survive (see my profile.)
Quenby Wilcox - Fall 2006