Books are not particularly sexy. A person’s eyes can be seductive, depending on the person. And wearing a headscarf and a bulky full-length coat? In general, not very sexy at all.
According to the Saudi Commitee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (also known as the morality police), women with attractive eyes might now be forced by law to cover them up. The ‘Virtue vs Vice
‘ committee (it appears that many Islamic countries have one of these) always makes me want to cry and laugh at the same time: cry, because they almost always are demeaning to women and the idea of such a committee is so against human rights; and laugh because, well, I cannot believe that these people are permitted in the government when they clearly have issues.
Just when things seem to be looking ‘up’ for Saudi women (i.e. women were recently granted the right to vote in elections…in 2012) something as absurd as this happens to keep the freedom level in check. Hello, the barbaric men who go crazy at the sight of a woman’s eyes should be covered up (or, better yet, have their lusting hands handcuffed!), not the women. I’m guessing sunglasses might become a la mode if this ban takes place, but what I really want to know is:
Who’s going to be the Beauty Queen judges and decide what constitutes as a ‘seductive’ pair of eyes??
Next up on the banning block are books, or more specifically, Islamic Sex, a sort of “Sex manual” advocated by the Obedient Wives Club in Malaysia. The Malaysian government wants to ban the book, which is odd when one considers that the book insists that wives be “subservient” and give in to their husbands sexual needs.
Even still, the government ban on the book is not too surprising, given that sex is usually a touchy and private subject in Islam. But the book is actually promoting a strict, stern way of thinking,and even though it’s line of thought is narrow-minded, it wouldn’t hurt the society to learn something about a topic that they often know little about. What was most disturbing about this situation was the fact that the book was read by an organization called the Obedient Wives Club.
Who convinced these women to call themselves the ‘Obedient Wives Club’??
Scarves haven’t been banned in Iran, as they are part of the uniform women must wear when they leave the house, along with a manteau, or long coat. In Jafar Panahi’s 2000 film The Circle or Dawayeh (the same director of Offside)
follows several different women over the course of one day, highlighting the inequalities women face. Pari,a recently released convict, tries to enter a hospital to see an old friend. She is barred from entering unless she wears a chador, the traditional longblack cloack that Iranian women hold closed with their hands. Never mind that she already wears a scarf over her head and a long shapeless coat; apparently, that is deemed too sexy for any of the glum people visiting the hospital.
The women in The Circle have officially been stripped of their physical sexiness, and society tries-as we see-to strip them of that other highly admirable quality: strength. A mother is stripped of her child and pride when she decides to leave her daughter on the street. Nargess, another ex-convict, is stripped of her strength and power when she realizes she is too scared to board a bus for Azerbaijan. Physical or highly overt sexual objects-such as a woman’s hair, or a sex manual-are easily banned in Iran, but society just can’t resist desexualizing (and effectively dehumanizing) women further.
Towards the end of the film, we meet a woman moonlighting as a prostitute -her excuse? “Honey, will you pay the bills?”-who is caught when she enters a man’s car. Banned from the normal wiles that a prostitute would use to attract attention (heavy make-up; flashy, tight clothes) the woman is dressed like any other in Iran: in a head scarf and baggy attire. Yet her normal attire doesn’t stop a man from picking her up, nor does it stop the police from arresting her. Even if she was wearing a burqa, the woman could still be picked up a prostitute. The scarf can’t be banned. So what’s next?
Are we going to star banning women? Because to a man, there isn’t a more sexual object than the mere presence of a woman, whether or not she is baring her eyes, her skin, or is sexually knowledgeable!
1. “Saudi Women with Attractive Eyes Forced to Cover”: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2063143/Saudi-women-attractive-eyes-forced-cover-resolution-passed.html
2. “Malaysia to Ban ‘Obedient Wives Club’ Islamic Sex Book: http://bikyamasr.com/47242/malaysia-to-ban-obedient-wives-club-islamic-sex-book/