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Rrrrow! Check out the eyelashes on that hottie in brown!

Here’s something that caught my eye in the WaPo:

Saudi women have long been known in the West for their all-enveloping black attire, widely considered a mark of their oppression. But Sharif and Fageeh are among a growing number of women and girls here who are rethinking and reinventing the abaya to more closely reflect their personalities and religious beliefs.

Abayas with patches of fluorescent color, floral patterns, animal prints, embroidery and even zodiac signs have started to show up in other cities as well, prompting clerics to criticize the trend and reiterate that abayas were meant to deflect attention, not attract it.

Today, abayas are often stylish, personalized wraps that women enjoy being seen in, said Thana Addas, an abaya designer. Addas’s creations, many made with material from international fashion houses such as Roberto Cavalli, Burberry and Fendi and decorated with Swarovski crystals, can sell for more than $1,000.

This all boils down to the fundamentalist Muslim treatment of women as merely chattel.  The article cites common knowledge of women’s status in the Kingdom, including being unable to drive or work alongside men, being forbidden to go out in public unless escorted by a male relative, and that overriding fear/disgust at the female form as a temptuous siren of sin and lust.  Islam’s not the only religion to treat women as second-class beings, just the one religion that has seemed to perfect it.  (Gotta give some anti-props to my own [ex-]Mormonism — our women can’t go to heaven unless they marry and breed.)The rest of the article delves into the ancient religious meaning behind the abaya, how Allah willed it that women’s curves should not be seen.  Was Allah embarrassed by His handiwork or did Allah just make the men so unrestrainably horny that covering up women’s hips, thighs, boobs, butts, arms, legs, neck, and 90% of women’s faces was the only way to maintain order?

Part of the controversy stems from interpretation of the Quran and some homilies about Muhammad.  Literalists insist Allah meant “black shapeless garment”, modernists say nothing requires “black” or “shapeless”.  Radicals like me think that if crystal-inlaid zodiac print garments are OK, fishnet nylon abayas should be OK, too.

Now we have plenty of Muslim women here in Portland who I see in the stores and on the streets wearing full, traditional abayas.  That’s their freedom of choice and freedom of religion and good for them.  My problem is with the countries like the Saudi kingdom where this is a requirement and women can be beaten, jailed, or killed for breaking the rules.

While I laugh at the silliness of a black abaya vs. a fuschia zodiac print abaya, at least it is a step in the right direction.  The women of the kingdom have seen the future and they believe they have a more active role in it.  Now, did this move come from a US invasion, diplomatic pressure, or a religious edict?

No, it came from our most effective weapons:  satellite TV and the internet.  We show the women of the world what life can be like as people free and equal to men (well… kinda…) and we let their imaginations do the rest.  This is the only segment of George W. Bush’s “they hate us for our freedoms” argument that I will accept.  Yes, I agree, the Wahabbist fundamentalist Muslims do indeed hate us for Pamela Anderson’s freedom to drive to work alone as a bikini model, but only to the extent that they can’t stop us from beaming that image to the abaya-cloaked eyes of their women.

It’s hard to keep ’em barefoot and pregnant once they’ve seen their first Jimmy Choo’s.

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RadicalRuss1

RadicalRuss1

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