Wednesday, April 04, 2007

On Scarves and Yarmulkes and Ties

The fact that Nancy Pelosi wore a scarf while visiting Ommayad Mosque in Damascus during her Syrian visit has caused some consternation on Little Green Footballs, a wingnut site, as Mahablog reports. Pelosi's scarf-wearing in a mosque reminds me of the time when a friend of mine who is not Jewish was invited to attend a Jewish wedding ceremony at a synagogue. He wore a yarmulke. Gasp! It is called manners, my friends, though of course I am still going to criticize religious customs which assume that women's bodies are sinful in general while men's bodies are not.

All this reminds me of Derbyshire's little rant about the cowardly British sailors in Iran (who have now been released). The rant included this sentence:

And in any case, there was no evidence of torture or mistreatment in any of the filmed cases I have seen. They look just fine. You can't fake that. The girl sailor had that headscarf on within hours. From what I've heard of torture, even weaker cases can hold out for a few days.

The bolds are mine. What a wonderful sentence that bolded one is! It brings us two quite different connotations in just a few words: that girls are really not sailors and that she caved in faster than any real brave Derbyshire-type man might have.

But of course she was made to wear a scarf and the men were not made to alter their dress. Or were they? Look at this picture of the British sailors in Iran:

Notice how all the men look like Ahmadinejad? How none of them wear ties, for instance? Did they all insist on ties until their fingernails were pulled out?

The point I'm making here is that because the female dress required in Iran is so different from the general western dress code it is much easier for us to see when a woman has been made to dress differently than it is when a man has been made to dress differently. Now isn't that funny? That men all across the world tend to end up wearing what is practical and comfortable but that what women wear is so dependent on popular culture, fashion and religion?