The Pitiful Burqa…

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Pham’s article “The Right to Fashion in the Age of Terrorism” discusses the idea that fashion can be political and an act of democracy. Fashion provides a means for expressing the self and individualizing because it is based on the assumption of free choice. This choice in fashion is mainly attributed to women and their liberation through clothing and shopping for it.  Both Pham and the Sex and the City clip showcase the phenomenon of western women feeling sorry for muslim women because they are ‘oppressed’ by the burqa. The western view of the burqa is that women are forced to wear it because they have no freedom and aren’t trying to fight for it, if they weren’t so weakened by the oppression that it signified then they would fight against it. The video clip portrayed the common sentiment that western (more civilized and liberated) women should help muslim women stand up for themselves by shedding the scarf, as if they need or even want assistance. Carrie saw the muslim women as being incredibly pitiful for having to go through so much work around the burqa just to eat a French fry, she was so oppressed. Wearing the burqa does not signify the same idea to muslim women as it does to the west, they don’t actually feel pressured to wear it. Many wear it by choice, a view that the west completely passes over because who would consciously choose that? But by projecting western thoughts onto muslim practices there is a misunderstanding because of ethnocentrism, Euro-Americans think that their modes of living are the most developed and all cultures must be backwards in some way since they are different. All difference is necessarily worse. By assuming that muslim women have no freedom over the wearing of the burqa we are denying them the freedom to choose it of their own volition.     

-Annie Grant

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