Let me get one thing out of the way before I piss a bunch of people off: I am completely for a woman’s choice in whatever she wants to wear. Hijab or bikini. Pants or nipple-tassles. I. don’t. care. Do what you want. Okay, anyways:
A woman in my family has a DDD cup size and a hunched back. The hunched back led to scoliosis and an almost-collapsed lung. The heavy weight of her chest didn’t cause these issues. Men did.
This woman grew up in Afghanistan and was slapped on the back by her father anytime she stood up straight. This was to make sure she kept her breasts hidden from the unwarranted looks from men. Those looks can become distraction, that distraction can become lust, and that lust can become rape. Her father thought he was protecting her by forcing her to become small. She slouched and slouched to accommodate all these men because her breasts must’ve just been soooo distracting. She slouched and slouched and finally her lung almost collapsed.
In my middle school, the girls section of the dress-code was always considerably longer. No shorts or skirts above the thigh. No low-cut blouses. No midriffs. No breathing or eye-contact. Ok I made that part up.
Once when I was about 17 and my niece was 7, I raised my arms up to reach into a cabinet. My niece quickly yelled, “I can see your kheta (stomach)!! You need to cover it”. I literally had no words.
At a wedding, my mom had me remove my red lipstick because she said it was “inappropriate” to wear around our male relatives and friends. I kept it on and made sure to line my lips.
What kind of message are we sending our girls when we ask them to modify their appearances or mannerisms because we want to “protect” them? And what kind of message are we sending our boys when this behavior goes unchecked?
We are telling them that men are incapable of controlling their lustful desires. We are telling women that their body – the one God created – is the source of that lust, and to avoid this, they must change it so they are not themselves anymore. That means the woman with DDD breasts must slouch her back to save herself. That means the young girl with the hourglass figure must wear robes to hide it. That means I must buy skirts larger than my size to hide my long legs. That means the $16 I spent on MAC lipstick goes to waste (damn it). We are also telling them that all men are capable of raping and that it is something that can be controlled by how women display themselves.
This notion of “protecting” women by covering them has always really irked me. And it’s not only in Muslim societies, it’s in the West too. Sure, women’s bodies are much more regulated in the Middle East, but women are harassed and objectified everywhere.
Growing up in a Muslim household, modesty in clothing and mannerisms was encouraged. My parents were never super gung-ho about this, but it was definitely a “value” instilled in me, that to this day I get weirded out wearing a bikini.
But I could never swallow this pill, I could never agree that the hijab or a long skirt or anything I freakin wore was enough to protect me. It’s not that I felt I didn’t need the protection – just checking my “other” folder on Facebook convinces me enough that many men really can’t control themselves, it’s that I felt WHY. Why are we constantly telling a girl how to dress but hardly telling a boy to see her as a person and not an object? Why will my long sleeve shirt make me less rapeable? Why can’t a boy study next to me unless I’m wearing a sweater? Are they apes?
Listen, I get it. People have “desires”. Men are “wired different”. These dress-codes are meant to “keep everyone on task”. But seriously? Dressing a certain way to protect ourselves? As if that’s the most important thing I need to think of every morning: what shall I wear so I don’t get raped today? So I don’t get cat-called today? So I don’t distract a moron today? It’s my main responsibility to think of the entire realm of possibilities that a man might have to shackle himself free of self-control, and the way I dress will prevent this.
Cut that bullshit out.
There is zero correlation between how a woman dresses and whether or not she will be raped:
“Having been in police work for 40+ years, I can say that how a woman is dressed has little or nothing to do with sex crimes. It’s about opportunity. Our local serial rapist, The “South Side” rapist, attacked some 30 women in their homes. He could not even see them before hand, he forced his way in through a window and raped the victims at knifepoint. – M. Werner May 10 ’11 at 15:01”
“While people perceive dress to have an impact on who is assaulted, studies of rapists suggest that victim attire is not a significant factor. Instead, rapists look for signs of passiveness and submissiveness, which, studies suggest, are more likely to coincide with more body-concealing clothing. In a study to test whether males could determine whether women were high or low in passiveness and submissiveness, Richards and her colleagues found that men, using only nonverbal appearance cues, could accurately assess which women were passive and submissive versus those who were dominant and assertive. Clothing was one of the key cues: “Those females high in passivity and submissiveness (i.e., those at greatest risk for victimization) wore noticeably more body-concealing clothing (i.e., high necklines, long pants and sleeves, multiple layers).” This suggests that men equate body-concealing clothing with passive and submissive qualities, which are qualities that rapists look for in victims. Thus, those who wore provocative clothes would not be viewed as passive or submissive, and would be less likely to be victims of assault.” (http://www.law.ualr.edu/faculty/bios/beiner.asp)
Ok. Now, read this sentence:
“If you keep dressing like that, you’ll be raped.”
Do you know what kind of “advice” this is? It is control. It is robbing a woman of choice. When governments, religions and other forms of authority dictate dress and behavior, it is forcing their will on other people. And the shittiest part about it, it gives the rapist an excuse. Now the crime isn’t the fault of the sick pervert committing the violation, it’s the fault of the victim for not following the rules. – the very same rules that took away their freedom to choose in the first place.
Now, consider the various cultures that require women to cover their whole bodies:
Has rape vanished from these places? No, and I’d actually argue it happens at a higher rate with even more detrimental consequences: honor killings, forced marriage to the rapist, the rapist going unpunished, yadadada.
Then, consider those cultures wherein women walk around buck-ass nekkid with their titties literally exposed and hanging out:
More rapes there? Nah.
Most rape victims are raped by people they know. And rape is a crime of opportunity and power. Clothing doesn’t mean jack shit in these scenarios.
Children get raped. Boys get raped. What they wore didn’t matter. The problem is the rape culture that is an epidemic across the world.
Now, to make this clear, I’m not telling my sisters who prefer to cover, to now uncover. I’m just saying that I personally don’t buy the argument that covering more will protect you from jack shit, or will make you less lustful to a dude.
& what I’m thinking is, everything we do as women is regulated by a social construct. This construct gives men immeasurable power. Your hijab is really not a choice. It is regulated by the potential distraction a man might experience should you not wear one. (Unless of course you’re wearing it for reasons besides the male gaze). Your high heels are not really a choice. They’re regulated by the notion that longer legs are more attractive, and your short legs will discourage men from approaching you. But not too high – then you’ll look like a stripper – and that’s desperate, but only because a man will think so.
Men, stop telling us how to dress. Stop telling us whats modest. Stop telling us to smile, or not to smile, or to wear red lipstick because it’s sexy or not to wear red lipstick because it’s distracting. Stop putting chicks on a pedestal for covering their head, and similarly, stop bashing them if they make that choice. Lower your gaaaaaze, like the Prophet PBUH told you to, time and time and time again.
And women, stop perpetuating this bullshit that gives men an excuse to violate our sisters however and wherever and de-objectify your effin’ minds.
Because the world wasn’t made to revolve around what pleases men. On the contrary, we’re the mofos that house you in our wombs for 9 months. Keep pissing us off and that might change.
Power to the pussy.