Monday, 6 November 2006

Mufti Day

What do we think about the recent comments regarding women's clothing and its relation to rape from Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly?

This cartoon by Leunig (not always a fan, but occasionally he comes up with some interesting ones) is interesting viz notions of entrapment in clothing in general.

A few thoughts...some from some friends who have also had this discussion.

  1. That women's dress influences men's behaviour is not a new thing - Catholic school uniforms, nuns' habits, brethren scarves have all made statements about modesty and religion. But to make claims like Sheik's which assume that anything less than head to toe covering will lure men and trigger their hormones/lust seems seriously not only anachronistic but just silly. As my friend Alex pointed out, it also takes all control over the female aesthetic out of the hands of women, as it conflates beauty with sexiness, which is disempowering.

  2. "Irene Khan made some interesting comments about this issue to the effect that it was a red herring precisely because the experience of women in countries such as Afghanistan under the Taliban made it clear that sexual violence occurs whether or not women are completely covered. They are still women. Men who wish to attack them still can. That wish does not seem to be strongly empirically linked to what those women are wearing."
    wikipedia entry

  3. Or really, is the issue more broadly nothing to do with the fact that a contorvsersial Mufti has outrageous views, but that these same outrageous views* when expressed by others aren't given the same degree of public outrage and mortification? (e.g. the rape case in Italy (requires access) which claimed a women wearing jeans must have consented, as jeans are hard to take off )
Some fabulous puns that came out of the discussion:

  • Am I a wolf in sheik's clothing?
  • Is this the pot calling the mufti crap?
  • My! You look sheik.

1 comment:

R Ko said...

I think rape is an awful crime.

I think the Law was set up based on lots of WLD assumptions about people, and judges have tried to reflect circumstances through exercise of discretion in conviction and sentencing.

I think the exercise of that discretion goes through the lens of the section of society that judges represent, and that this lens has not been clear enough and the section not representative enough.

I think that it's one thing for a women to be aware of the risks of sexuality in society, and another to take those risks into account when dealing with a rapist after he's committed a crime.

I think the political language of rape is fraught.

I think improving society's behavioural standards is worthwhile, slow, difficult and not all that related to what goes on in the courts or parliament.