Reply
Frequent Contributor
Jon_B
Posts: 1,893
Registered: ‎07-15-2008
0 Kudos

Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

Iran has been in the news quite a bit lately. From the issue of their potentialy building nuclear arms, to their stance on Israel, their support of terrorist groups, and the questions raised by the presence of a large - and fairly powerful - modern theocracy, an awareness of Iran's politics and culture and what they mean for the rest of the world is becoming essential to understanding contemporary geopolitics.

In his new book, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, Iranian-American journalist Hooman Majd explores these issues and many other important aspects of Iranian culture with depth and passion.  While there is, of course, already a substantial amount of important literature regarding various aspects of the nation, its history, and our relationship to it, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ is on the forefront of helping us understand the Iran of today - life under Ahmadinejad and under the clerics, a culture where contradictory strains of Islamic traditionalism and pro-Western reformism both merge and conflict with one another.

Below is a B&N Studio video in which Hooman Majd describes some of his experiences in the Iran of today. Click play to watch:



What are your thoughts on Iran as it is portrayed here by Majd, and what are your thoughts on the issue of the different directions this country is headed in, and what it means for the rest of the world?


________________________________________

Need some help setting up your My B&N profile? Click here!

Looking for a particular book, but can't remember the title or author? Ask about it here!
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

Jon -- I am not able to view any of the videos you embed.  Are the available at some other site where I might be more successful accessing them directly?
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Frequent Contributor
Jon_B
Posts: 1,893
Registered: ‎07-15-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

Hi Everyman - sorry you're having trouble.  Try this link and tell me if you can view it here:

 

http://media.barnesandnoble.com/?fr_chl=d81d787750f41575bb1283d41092fcca2f43fe15&rf=bm

 

 

________________________________________

Need some help setting up your My B&N profile? Click here!

Looking for a particular book, but can't remember the title or author? Ask about it here!
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

Thanks Jon.  It is good to see a viewpoint from a sympathetic 'insider' as against that of a dissident, which is too often coloured by personal subjective experience or alternative religious belief.  Much of what we hear in the West is fuelled by exiled dissidents' bitterness just as it was when Russian dissidents were giving us their versions of the Soviet Union under communism.   A balance needs to be struck when we listen to these varying accounts and we need above all to remember that their culture is very alien to ours but nevertheless ancient and deserving of respect.  I would feel tremendously 'oppressed' if a law forced me to wear a hijab or a burkha but I know many Muslim women who are happily attired thus.  I would feel oppressed if I had to pray five times a day (or even once!) but Muslims happily accept this ruling.  And so on.  By and large, if people are oppressed they rise up and change their rulers, just as the Iranians rose up against the Shah.   

 

Where there are huge differences in the matter of human rights then those of us who care sufficiently must work to win 'hearts and minds'.  Such things are not solved by invasions and wars. 

 

As for nuclear power, I have some sympathy with countries who look at our possession of nuclear weapons, especially Israel's in this case, and say 'why not us?'.  And there is an argument for certain land locked countries without access to water need nuclear power to generate elecgtricity, which is one of Iran's claims.  But I am an old CNDer and would rather there not be any nuclear power or weapons anywhere in the world.

 

 

Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

Nope.

 


Jon_B wrote:

Hi Everyman - sorry you're having trouble.  Try this link and tell me if you can view it here:

 

http://media.barnesandnoble.com/?fr_chl=d81d787750f41575bb1283d41092fcca2f43fe15&rf=bm

 

 


 

 

_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Scribe
debbook
Posts: 1,823
Registered: ‎05-03-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

I just bought that book a couple days ago, after I saw the author on The Daily Show. It looks very good though I don't know when I'll be able to start it. Too many books!!

That looks like it would be a good discussion book, hint hint

A room without books is like a body without a soul.~ Cicero...
"bookmagic418.blogspot.com
Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

yes, yes! it could be a great choice. having an opposing point of view  would be excellent! as choisya noted, it is a more postive one rather than the voice of a dissident. although, i have stated in the past, if you like what you are hearing, you often don't care if someone else does not and you don't concern yourself about them. i kind of think, although i don't want to wear a hajib, less emphasis on the physical, in this country, would be a good thing.
twj

debbook wrote:

I just bought that book a couple days ago, after I saw the author on The Daily Show. It looks very good though I don't know when I'll be able to start it. Too many books!!

That looks like it would be a good discussion book, hint hint


 

Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

when you open the link, it is a childrens video. the embedded one works for me. very interesting, thanks.

twj


Jon_B wrote:

Hi Everyman - sorry you're having trouble.  Try this link and tell me if you can view it here:

 

http://media.barnesandnoble.com/?fr_chl=d81d787750f41575bb1283d41092fcca2f43fe15&rf=bm

 

 


 

Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

i think the anti american teaching will have to stop before any real dialogue can take place. how do you speak with someone who hates you? it isn't going to be easy. also, i hate to sound stupid, but how can a woman in a hajib drive a cab?
his video mentions that iranian women do this. can they dress more stylishly out in public everywhere or just uptown? do they only work uptown?
do people look like they are travelling around without fear because they are content with the situation or are they afraid to show fear and discontent? in such a country it is hard to determine such facts.showing displeasure with the policies results in horrendous, often barbaric consequences.
i would be interested in reading this book and finding out more about the human and civil rights of the people. although it is a different culture and they accept different standards in their life, i would still like to hear from the women, in a safe place from which they can speak freely, to discover if they truly do like to be hidden away behind a hajib and enjoy being totally beholden to the rules of men which are often violent and unfair.
regarding nuclear power, i really don't want iran to possess anything that might help them get nuclear weapons. their state religion, via the koran, demands dominance over the world in the form of the establishment of a caliphate, i believe, (correct me if i am wrong) and i don't want to be dominated. oh g-d, i know i sound like a bigot and i don't mean to, i think these people scare me. it may be because they don't like me at all. i could not get into their country without a forged passport and the need to have my head examined or removed!
twj

Jon_B wrote: (edited by twj)...
What are your thoughts on Iran as it is portrayed here by Majd, and what are your thoughts on the issue of the different directions this country is headed in, and what it means for the rest of the world?

 

Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

Iranian women dress stylishly, very stylishly, under their burkhas WJ but they are required to cover themselves entirely when in public because they must not show any part of their body to a man they are not related to.   Muslim women who cover themselves in this way often say that they do it 'for themselves', so as to retain both their privacy and their modesty.  But as their religion 'brainwashes'  them at the madrasses they attend between 5-13 it is difficult to believe that it is really voluntary.  The Koran does not specify complete coverage like this and it has only become a widespread fashion in recent years as Islamic fundamentalism has grown stronger.  My lodger, who is an Indian Muslim, abhors the burkha and hijab and does not like either his wife or daughter to wear it.  He says there are far more women wearing it now than when he was a young man because of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism (which he also abhors).  It has also become a 'fashion statement' because of the 'oppression' by the West that some Muslims feel.     

 

I think we must not confuse the political rhetoric of either Iranian politicians or Islamic fundamentalists with the feelings of ordinary people who I strongly feel are much the same everywhere and want to 'get on', just as you and I do.  When I visit my lodger's home for (frequent!) weddings I meet many women from the Middle East in full burkha and although I find it very disconcerting just to talk to their eyes, they are always very friendly. In London I often saw groups of Arab ladies shopping for the latest fashions in the large department stores and they were just as chatty and giggly as our young women but always used cubicles and not 'communal' changing rooms. 

 

The Koran teaches sharia law but then the Bible and the Torah teach strange things too. It also preaches tolerance of Jews and Christians, and Muslims respect the Biblical prophets, Jesus and Mary who are mentioned in the Koran. However, like religious fundamentalists everywhere, some of their mullahs/ayatollahs preach intolerance and jihad etc etc.  World dominance under sharia law is the aim of a minority but we have done a fair amount of dominating the world ourselves, at least the British have, and Christian missionaries have been all over the world teaching that Christianity is the best religion etc.   

 

As we have invaded two Islamic countries in recent times (Iraq & Afghanistan) and, as Muslims see it, give a lot of aid (and weapons) to Israel whilst Palestinians are in refugee camps, I think we should perhaps expect a bit  of hatred to come our way:smileysad:.  IMO there have been faults on both sides but the way forward is not to fear and hate but to try to understand and tolerate.               

 

 

 


thewanderingjew wrote:
i think the anti american teaching will have to stop before any real dialogue can take place. how do you speak with someone who hates you? it isn't going to be easy. also, i hate to sound stupid, but how can a woman in a hajib drive a cab?
his video mentions that iranian women do this. can they dress more stylishly out in public everywhere or just uptown? do they only work uptown?
do people look like they are travelling around without fear because they are content with the situation or are they afraid to show fear and discontent? in such a country it is hard to determine such facts.showing displeasure with the policies results in horrendous, often barbaric consequences.
i would be interested in reading this book and finding out more about the human and civil rights of the people. although it is a different culture and they accept different standards in their life, i would still like to hear from the women, in a safe place from which they can speak freely, to discover if they truly do like to be hidden away behind a hajib and enjoy being totally beholden to the rules of men which are often violent and unfair.
regarding nuclear power, i really don't want iran to possess anything that might help them get nuclear weapons. their state religion, via the koran, demands dominance over the world in the form of the establishment of a caliphate, i believe, (correct me if i am wrong) and i don't want to be dominated. oh g-d, i know i sound like a bigot and i don't mean to, i think these people scare me. it may be because they don't like me at all. i could not get into their country without a forged passport and the need to have my head examined or removed!
twj

Jon_B wrote: (edited by twj)...
What are your thoughts on Iran as it is portrayed here by Majd, and what are your thoughts on the issue of the different directions this country is headed in, and what it means for the rest of the world?

 


 

RTA
Wordsmith
RTA
Posts: 920
Registered: ‎08-19-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

[ Edited ]

Choisya wrote: A balance needs to be struck when we listen to these varying accounts and we need above all to remember that their culture is very alien to ours but nevertheless ancient and deserving of respect.  I would feel tremendously 'oppressed' if a law forced me to wear a hijab or a burkha but I know many Muslim women who are happily attired thus.  I would feel oppressed if I had to pray five times a day (or even once!) but Muslims happily accept this ruling.  And so on.

 

Choisya, I very well may be splitting semantic hairs here, but I, like the Ayatollah, will beg to differ.  I absolutely agree that we should respect, to a certain point, the right of others to think and behave according to their own cultures and ideologies.  However, for me, that respect doesn’t necessarily extend to the ideologies themselves.  And, considering what you further wrote, I think you might agree.  That is, you respect a woman’s right to cover with a hijab but that seems to be a cultural behavior that you don’t necessarily respect.  In fact, the expectation of that behavior would make you feel “tremendously ‘oppressed.’” 

 

And the only reason I raise the distinction is because I think it important that we work at respecting others’ rights to value a host of plural ideas, but I also think it important that we constantly question and discuss the virtue of those ideas.  For instance, I can respect a person’s right to believe in a particular dogma, all the while questioning the value of that dogma.  Just as a person can do the same with regard to my dogma.  In fact, I think it an important aspect of respectful, but useful, dialogue.

 

EDIT: Choisya, just to clarify, when I write "to a certain point" I mean that to qualify only behavior, not thought.  I respect the right of others to think whatever they want, and to act accordingly...to a certain point.  Sorry for the confusion in my writing.

Message Edited by RTA on 10-07-2008 01:30 PM
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

Your use of the word 'respect' puzzles me here RTA.  That I don't personally lke the idea of talking to someone through a slit in a hijab isn't a lack of respect. It is a personal preference.  I like to see someone's face when I talk to them.  And it isn't lack of respect that makes me feel that I would feel tremendously oppressed if I was forced into wearing a burkha by either culture or law. It is baulking against a law or custom which might tell me what I should or should not wear.     

 

When visiting Catholic or Islamic countries, where it is the custom that all women cover themselves, not to wear shorts, to cover their heads etc I have always felt discomfiture because these customs were imposed upon me, mostly by males. I have respected these customs by acceding to them but I have not liked them; they oppressed me and took away my freedom to dress as I wished.  

 

Acknowledging people's plurality of ideas and behaviours does not preclude our not liking some of those ideas and behaviours.

 

As to the difference between the ideologies and culture/custom, most of the time they end up being the same.  It would be impossible to explain to a fully veiled Muslim woman that she was not required to be fully veiled by the Koran, because her behaviour is too deeply ingrained in the custom/ideology of the country in which she lives.  So I end up not liking either the ideology or the behaviour which stems from it, even though I do my best to take a 'live and let live' approach to both, unless I find it impinges upon basic human rights.

 

As an atheist I find it all very difficult anyway, because my instinct is to say 'mumbo-jumbo' to all of it (whatever the ideology) but as I am not a 'militant' atheist, I do my best to be tolerant.

Sorry if I do not make the grade:smileyhappy:.

 

I agree with you that we must constantly question and discuss such ideas - although not just Islamic ideas, all ideas, including yours and mine.   

 

 

 

 


RTA wrote:

Choisya wrote: A balance needs to be struck when we listen to these varying accounts and we need above all to remember that their culture is very alien to ours but nevertheless ancient and deserving of respect.  I would feel tremendously 'oppressed' if a law forced me to wear a hijab or a burkha but I know many Muslim women who are happily attired thus.  I would feel oppressed if I had to pray five times a day (or even once!) but Muslims happily accept this ruling.  And so on.

 

Choisya, I very well may be splitting semantic hairs here, but I, like the Ayatollah, will beg to differ.  I absolutely agree that we should respect, to a certain point, the right of others to think and behave according to their own cultures and ideologies.  However, for me, that respect doesn’t necessarily extend to the ideologies themselves.  And, considering what you further wrote, I think you might agree.  That is, you respect a woman’s right to cover with a hijab but that seems to be a cultural behavior that you don’t necessarily respect.  In fact, the expectation of that behavior would make you feel “tremendously ‘oppressed.’” 

 

And the only reason I raise the distinction is because I think it important that we work at respecting others’ rights to value a host of plural ideas, but I also think it important that we constantly question and discuss the virtue of those ideas.  For instance, I can respect a person’s right to believe in a particular dogma, all the while questioning the value of that dogma.  Just as a person can do the same with regard to my dogma.  In fact, I think it an important aspect of respectful, but useful, dialogue.

 

EDIT: Choisya, just to clarify, when I write "to a certain point" I mean that to qualify only behavior, not thought.  I respect the right of others to think whatever they want, and to act accordingly...to a certain point.  Sorry for the confusion in my writing.

Message Edited by RTA on 10-07-2008 01:30 PM

 

Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

And it isn't lack of respect that makes me feel that I would feel tremendously oppressed if I was forced into wearing a burkha by either culture or law. It is baulking against a law or custom which might tell me what I should or should not wear.    

 

LOL!  Custom tells us all what we should or should not wear.  The difference being that in most cultures it's usually societal pressure, not religion or government, that tells us what we should wear.  But that's not even always the case.  

 

If you tried to walk down Brick Street with nothing at all on, your government, I assume, would step in to prevent that.  So you can't wear what you want to if it's nothing.  Nor, probably, would you be allowed into a tour group in Buckingham Palace if you were wearing just a thong bikini. 

 

And of course when I attended school in England, I was required to wear a uniform at all times, as is the case in most public schools.  Law telling me what I should and should not wear.  I don't know aboub state schools there, but over here an increasing number of public (state) schools reuire either outright uniforms, or have increasingly restrictive dress codes to violate which is cause for suspension or expulsion.  

 

In few (if any?) cultures does a person have freedom to dress as they wish. 

 

 


Choisya wrote:

Your use of the word 'respect' puzzles me here RTA.  That I don't personally lke the idea of talking to someone through a slit in a hijab isn't a lack of respect. It is a personal preference.  I like to see someone's face when I talk to them.  And it isn't lack of respect that makes me feel that I would feel tremendously oppressed if I was forced into wearing a burkha by either culture or law. It is baulking against a law or custom which might tell me what I should or should not wear.     

 

When visiting Catholic or Islamic countries, where it is the custom that all women cover themselves, not to wear shorts, to cover their heads etc I have always felt discomfiture because these customs were imposed upon me, mostly by males. I have respected these customs by acceding to them but I have not liked them; they oppressed me and took away my freedom to dress as I wished.  

 

Acknowledging people's plurality of ideas and behaviours does not preclude our not liking some of those ideas and behaviours.

 

As to the difference between the ideologies and culture/custom, most of the time they end up being the same.  It would be impossible to explain to a fully veiled Muslim woman that she was not required to be fully veiled by the Koran, because her behaviour is too deeply ingrained in the custom/ideology of the country in which she lives.  So I end up not liking either the ideology or the behaviour which stems from it, even though I do my best to take a 'live and let live' approach to both, unless I find it impinges upon basic human rights.

 

As an atheist I find it all very difficult anyway, because my instinct is to say 'mumbo-jumbo' to all of it (whatever the ideology) but as I am not a 'militant' atheist, I do my best to be tolerant.

Sorry if I do not make the grade:smileyhappy:.

 

I agree with you that we must constantly question and discuss such ideas - although not just Islamic ideas, all ideas, including yours and mine.   

 

 

 

 


RTA wrote:

Choisya wrote: A balance needs to be struck when we listen to these varying accounts and we need above all to remember that their culture is very alien to ours but nevertheless ancient and deserving of respect.  I would feel tremendously 'oppressed' if a law forced me to wear a hijab or a burkha but I know many Muslim women who are happily attired thus.  I would feel oppressed if I had to pray five times a day (or even once!) but Muslims happily accept this ruling.  And so on.

 

Choisya, I very well may be splitting semantic hairs here, but I, like the Ayatollah, will beg to differ.  I absolutely agree that we should respect, to a certain point, the right of others to think and behave according to their own cultures and ideologies.  However, for me, that respect doesn’t necessarily extend to the ideologies themselves.  And, considering what you further wrote, I think you might agree.  That is, you respect a woman’s right to cover with a hijab but that seems to be a cultural behavior that you don’t necessarily respect.  In fact, the expectation of that behavior would make you feel “tremendously ‘oppressed.’” 

 

And the only reason I raise the distinction is because I think it important that we work at respecting others’ rights to value a host of plural ideas, but I also think it important that we constantly question and discuss the virtue of those ideas.  For instance, I can respect a person’s right to believe in a particular dogma, all the while questioning the value of that dogma.  Just as a person can do the same with regard to my dogma.  In fact, I think it an important aspect of respectful, but useful, dialogue.

 

EDIT: Choisya, just to clarify, when I write "to a certain point" I mean that to qualify only behavior, not thought.  I respect the right of others to think whatever they want, and to act accordingly...to a certain point.  Sorry for the confusion in my writing.

Message Edited by RTA on 10-07-2008 01:30 PM

 


 

_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Frequent Contributor
Jon_B
Posts: 1,893
Registered: ‎07-15-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

[ Edited ]

Everyman wrote:

 

In few (if any?) cultures does a person have freedom to dress as they wish. 


 

San Francisco's South of Market district is about as close as you can get to that total freedom :smileyvery-happy: 

 

You do raise a good point - there are all kinds of examples in our own culture of law and custom both telling us what we can and cannot wear.    While the burqa is a particularly restrictive form of clothing and visually rather different than what we are used to in the west, in terms of the concept of cultural restrictions on clothing and the ethics involved its no different than the restrictions we already take for granted on a daily basis.  

 

While there are of course gender issues involved, thats the case in the west as well - for example, in the United States it is perfectly legal for a man to walk around on the street with his chest bare, but it is illegal for a woman to do so.  And the arguments used to support this gender-differentiated restriction in our country are not that far from the arguments that Muslims often use to support the gender-differentiated restrictions in their own culture. 

 

This does not of course mean thatin either case the restrictions are right - in my personal view many of such restrictions rub me the wrong way.  But there are a lot more commonalities that we might think - even in a purely secular realm - and a lot of these restrictions that we take for granted and don't really think about when we look at the "other".

 

Message Edited by Jon_B on 10-08-2008 08:37 AM
________________________________________

Need some help setting up your My B&N profile? Click here!

Looking for a particular book, but can't remember the title or author? Ask about it here!
RTA
Wordsmith
RTA
Posts: 920
Registered: ‎08-19-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

Well then let me clarify that I am using the term respect to connote the idea of finding value in; holding in high regard; or esteeming something.  My use of respect is different than a liking.  I value to high degree peoples’ rights to think and act (to a certain point) according to plural cultural ideologies.  I, however, do not necessarily respect (esteem, value, hold in high regard) the actual cultural ideas and behaviors themselves.  I may respect some ideas with which I disagree, or don’t particularly like, but certainly not all of them.

 

And, to be specific, I respect a person’s right to hold intolerant ideas against homosexuality.  I even respect a person’s right to act on those ideologies up to the point that the act does not infringe on others’ rights.  I don’t, however, respect the ideology itself, or the cultural values that inform that ideology.

 

Or, to take something less garish than intolerance towards homosexuality, I respect a person’s right to purchase and live in a gigantic home, far larger than anything reasonably required for a comfortable living space.  A common cultural trend in parts of the U.S. is to buy (or build) the largest home one can, without regard to the actual necessity for the size of that home.  A few people I know have subscribed to that very ideology.  And, as I said, I respect their right to do so.  But I don’t respect the behavior, nor do I respect the cultural values that inform that behavior. 

 

You write: Acknowledging people's plurality of ideas and behaviours does not preclude our not liking some of those ideas and behaviours.

 

Yes, but I would further argue that acknowledging people’s plurality of ideas and behaviors, and even respecting the right for people to hold plural ideas and behaviors does not necessarily extend to respecting those actual ideas and behaviors.  I respect a woman’s right to cover with a hijab; but, I don’t respect (that is, I don’t find value in or esteem) the behavior itself.  And I mean that as something different than not liking the behavior.

 

Have I made myself more clear?    

RTA
Wordsmith
RTA
Posts: 920
Registered: ‎08-19-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

John wrote: ...for example, in the United States it is perfectly legal for a man to walk around on the street with his chest bare, but it is illegal for a woman to do so.

 

I think a person could make a strong case that laws that prevent women from being bare chested, but not men, are civil violations.  Each year in my city we have women arrested during Greek Week for exposing their chest, while, at the same time, shirtless men go totally unmolested by law enforcement.  Seems like these laws (I think they're probably largely city ordinances, actually) are based on totally antiquated, and biased notions with regard to female sexuality. 

 

Choisya, there's another cultural norm that I don't respect.

Scribe
debbook
Posts: 1,823
Registered: ‎05-03-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ


Jon_B wrote:

Everyman wrote:

 

In few (if any?) cultures does a person have freedom to dress as they wish. 


 

San Francisco's South of Market district is about as close as you can get to that total freedom :smileyvery-happy: 

 

You do raise a good point - there are all kinds of examples in our own culture of law and custom both telling us what we can and cannot wear.    While the burqa is a particularly restrictive form of clothing and visually rather different than what we are used to in the west, in terms of the concept of cultural restrictions on clothing and the ethics involved its no different than the restrictions we already take for granted on a daily basis.  

 

While there are of course gender issues involved, thats the case in the west as well - for example, in the United States it is perfectly legal for a man to walk around on the street with his chest bare, but it is illegal for a woman to do so.  And the arguments used to support this gender-differentiated restriction in our country are not that far from the arguments that Muslims often use to support the gender-differentiated restrictions in their own culture. 

 

This does not of course mean thatin either case the restrictions are right - in my personal view many of such restrictions rub me the wrong way.  But there are a lot more commonalities that we might think - even in a purely secular realm - and a lot of these restrictions that we take for granted and don't really think about when we look at the "other".

 

Message Edited by Jon_B on 10-08-2008 08:37 AM

Not necessarily Jon here

A room without books is like a body without a soul.~ Cicero...
"bookmagic418.blogspot.com
Distinguished Bibliophile
TiggerBear
Posts: 9,489
Registered: ‎02-12-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

Yes but we do have the no shirt no shoes laws in areas.
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ : Customs in dress.

I baulk at a lot of these customs and rules too. I do not see why I cannot walk naked, or topless, down Brick Lane or anywhere else except that it would frighten the horses!  School uniforms are another matter because they are not about law but school rules.  No policeman here would arrest you for not wearing a school uniform. I think a lot of pupils object to wearing school uniform but unfortunately their parents send them to schools where it is compulsory and they have no choice.  I know that I felt oppressed in my school uniform (it was blue and yellow for goodness sake!) and couldnt wait to take it off!  

 

In general in our society, we are allowed to wear what we like with the exception of toplessness or complete nudity.  On our high streets today we see the part (nearly full!) exposure of breasts, bottoms and stomachs and a very, very wide variety of dress.  Even bikinis are acceptable and they are often seen on the streets of seaside towns.  It may be different in the UK than in the US because eccentricity in dress has long been a custom here and is somewhat prized.  Janet Jackson's breast would not have caused a stir here!

 

Much of what we decide not  to wear is dictated by our own feelings of what is acceptable, not by law.  The difference is that in Iran and other Islamic countries, what women wear is dictated by law and, moreover, dictated by men.     

 

 

 


Everyman wrote:

And it isn't lack of respect that makes me feel that I would feel tremendously oppressed if I was forced into wearing a burkha by either culture or law. It is baulking against a law or custom which might tell me what I should or should not wear.    

 

LOL!  Custom tells us all what we should or should not wear.  The difference being that in most cultures it's usually societal pressure, not religion or government, that tells us what we should wear.  But that's not even always the case.  

 

If you tried to walk down Brick Street with nothing at all on, your government, I assume, would step in to prevent that.  So you can't wear what you want to if it's nothing.  Nor, probably, would you be allowed into a tour group in Buckingham Palace if you were wearing just a thong bikini. 

 

And of course when I attended school in England, I was required to wear a uniform at all times, as is the case in most public schools.  Law telling me what I should and should not wear.  I don't know aboub state schools there, but over here an increasing number of public (state) schools reuire either outright uniforms, or have increasingly restrictive dress codes to violate which is cause for suspension or expulsion.  

 

In few (if any?) cultures does a person have freedom to dress as they wish. 

 

 

 

Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Iran - The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

Have I made myself more clear?    

Not really, I find this to be semantics.  I suspect that our positions ar very similar in fact but cannot be bothered to spell them out. 

 

 


RTA wrote:

Well then let me clarify that I am using the term respect to connote the idea of finding value in; holding in high regard; or esteeming something.  My use of respect is different than a liking.  I value to high degree peoples’ rights to think and act (to a certain point) according to plural cultural ideologies.  I, however, do not necessarily respect (esteem, value, hold in high regard) the actual cultural ideas and behaviors themselves.  I may respect some ideas with which I disagree, or don’t particularly like, but certainly not all of them.

 

And, to be specific, I respect a person’s right to hold intolerant ideas against homosexuality.  I even respect a person’s right to act on those ideologies up to the point that the act does not infringe on others’ rights.  I don’t, however, respect the ideology itself, or the cultural values that inform that ideology.

 

Or, to take something less garish than intolerance towards homosexuality, I respect a person’s right to purchase and live in a gigantic home, far larger than anything reasonably required for a comfortable living space.  A common cultural trend in parts of the U.S. is to buy (or build) the largest home one can, without regard to the actual necessity for the size of that home.  A few people I know have subscribed to that very ideology.  And, as I said, I respect their right to do so.  But I don’t respect the behavior, nor do I respect the cultural values that inform that behavior. 

 

You write: Acknowledging people's plurality of ideas and behaviours does not preclude our not liking some of those ideas and behaviours.

 

Yes, but I would further argue that acknowledging people’s plurality of ideas and behaviors, and even respecting the right for people to hold plural ideas and behaviors does not necessarily extend to respecting those actual ideas and behaviors.  I respect a woman’s right to cover with a hijab; but, I don’t respect (that is, I don’t find value in or esteem) the behavior itself.  And I mean that as something different than not liking the behavior.

 

Have I made myself more clear?