Friday, June 12, 2009

Morality of dress

The dress of women in Islamic countries is certainly a cause célèbre here in the USA. After Barack Obama's speech in Cairo there was a parade of people, both men and women, on radio and television commenting on Obama's mention of women's dress, usually saying he didn't press the point enough. When I hear of people talking about the Islamic rule countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, etc one of the first things they talk about it women's dress. The other day I even heard on the radio a whole segment talking about the dress of women in Iran leading up to their elections.

I'm sure there is legitimate concern over this. But as I listened to the radio concerning the Iranian election they mentioned the "morality police." This is a negative, because they're prosecuting immorality in dress. But is this not done in our own country as well? We just have a different moral line. We're a liberalized nation where women can wear pants! (scandalous even up to the 1980s).

We're really not all that different, because we also have cultural dress mores. But there is a difference in purpose. Muslim dress is often apologized by claiming it liberates the women from the oppressive eyes of men. (Men also have a dress code, though it gets less press.) While in the west our dress code isn't meant to protect the wearer, but to protect the sensibilities of others.

I'm not trying to say anything is right or wrong here, It was just a casual observation.

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