Wednesday, June 29, 2005
“Because of the opening”
“Offf, this is becoming unbearable” my female colleague said as she entered the room one morning.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I parked my car in the parking lot across the street and I had to walk for a short distance. I couldn’t bear the comments I heard from men” she said angrily.
I looked at her and what she was wearing. She had a long sleeved blouse on and a relatively tight skirt covering her angles. There was very few flesh exposed.
“We’re almost covered up, probably their comments were on your good looks” I said laughingly.
“No, it is because of the opening” and she pulled her skirt a little bit to reveal an opening at the end of her skirt that exposed the lower parts of her white-colored legs. “They said things like: what is this?? Wow, I love the color white!” she added.
When I finished my conversation with my colleague, I recalled another conversation I had over dinner with my mom. I remember her telling me that as a young lady she and her friends used to walk in downtown Cairo wearing short skirts and cut tops.
“And did anyone look at you” I asked.
“Never, we used to even take the public bus wearing this. The people were different back in the 50s and 60s” she answered.
What happened to us? I asked myself. I know that many girls love to hear such comments on the street especially if they are not so pretty. However, others consider such comments as degrading to their femininity and something that reduces them to just a bulk of white flesh walking on a pavement. In addition, many girls would simply love to enjoy the simple freedom of wearing what they want outside their houses without enduring such comments. I believe this phenomena that didn’t exist at such a degree almost 20 years ago is a result of 2 factors: a social and an economical factor.
The social factor has to do with the introduction of fundamentalism and the usage of religion not in liberating women and empowering them but in putting all sorts of old historical unreformed rules on them. So instead of discussing the role of women in the society as the women of the 20s and the 30s did, we started to hear sermons on the compulsory hijab, women’s clothes and their menstruation cycle. As a result, the majority of girls today wear the hijab or the head cover for all sorts of reasons: personal convictions, family pressure, peer pressure, fear of being singled out, demand of a husband or a fiancé, or to escape the comments on the streets. The unveiled girls suddenly became the black chicks among the yellow ones, the different, the strangers. Boys who see veiled girls left and right cannot help but comment on this strange space alien walking a few meters away.
Many girls who want to wear tight jeans and tops yet do not want to endure such comments or be viewed as “loose” still put a veil on and tie it backwards in a way that I see rather attractive! The girls in those “modern hijabs” might still get a comment or two on the street, but they’re definitely much more safer than their “naked head” counterparts. In addition, many boys would love to comment on the buttocks in front of them that are moving up and down, yet the “holy symbol” on the girl’s head prevent them from doing so.
The second factor is economics. Due to the current devastation in our economy, young men cannot get good jobs and so they tend to postpone getting married. Mix unemployment with testosterone and you get male sex bombs.