Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Why I love the "Burkini" story and Manal Omar

The story is discussed here.

Basically, a woman who wears a swimsuit that's designed to honor Muslim standards of modesty was heckled at an Oxford pool, insulted, and it touched off a large debate in Britain about immigration and Muslims. The debate doesn't concern me because it doesn't have much to do with the actual incident. What does concern me is the fact that Manal Omar's decision to wear this implodes one of the stereotypes regarding Muslim women who wear hijab: namely, that they're unenlightened and unaware that they're being oppressed by a patriarchal dress code established by men, that if they realized that this was happening they'd do something different with the way they dress. Put another way, that they're too stupid to realize what's happening to them and it's encumbent on white women from the West to enlighten them about their real oppression.

Why does this person puncture the stereotype? Because she's the head of the Iraq section of Women for Women International, whose stated purpose is this:

Women for Women International can not provide direct financial and emotional support to women living on the margins of hope without the backing of a global community of dedicated staff, volunteers, generous donors, supporters and friends.

In 2005 alone, Women for Women International empowered over 30,000 women survivors of war to move toward economic self-sufficiency with our year-long program of direct aid, rights education, job skills training and small business development. We distributed $9.3 million in direct aid, microcredit loans, and other program services. Since 1993, Women for Women International has mobilized more than 125,000 women and men in 105 countries worldwide to reach out and support women survivors of war - one woman at a time.

Our supporters contribute resources, time and energy to help to make the future brighter for thousands of women survivors of war. With your ongoing support, Women for Women International will continue to address women's immediate and long-term needs, work to improve their status and opportunities and see what can be done to create a more just and peaceful world.


Did you get all that? This person who is supposedly oppressed and doesn't know it actually works for a company that directly empowers women who are survivors of war.


Anonymous said...

Don't you think its really scary that you assume that a whole population of Muslim women out there are actually duped into wearing the hijab, and could never have enough brains to actually CHOOSE it for themselves?

What do you think Mary, the mother of Jesus wore....a bikini or modest clothing?

sheryne said...

If I'm not mistaken the article is an antithesis. I think the writer used the negative stereotype to emphasize the whole ridiculousness of it.