Friday, June 5, 2009

Scarves and Schooling

I apologize for the hiatus there. Two weeks without free internet access was killing me and I had so many stories to write on while in Brussels, Geneva, and now in Istanbul, where I will be living for the next two months. Forgive me if the writing is not as "fabulous" as it usually is--my birthday was last night = no sleep.

Today's post comes from the inspiration of old Hollywood Head Scarves and the Hijab (or Muslim headscarf). Now, I know all y'all love the allure of throwing on a scarf and riding in your convertible:
Come now though. When it comes to Hijab, the mystery is multiplied for many non-Muslim Americans. What is it? Why wear it? Is it oppressive or powerful?

From personal experience, I know man Muslim women who do not wear headscarves, but many choose to do so. Some women go years without veiling until they decide to make the commitment to do so--sometimes out of a sign of dedication to religion, sometimes out of culture, sometimes teens do it as a means seeming "older" (think of it as the first time you wear makeup to seem older). So long as a woman is free to choose what she puts on her head, I don't think there is much of an issue. Just think it through.

A lot of feminists find it "oppressive" and I guess if men are forcing women to wear it, of course it is. Also, if women are wearing it to just get men to stop looking at them--perhaps the issue isn't the scarf at all--there are deeper womens rights issues at hand. Marilyn Monroe didn't like it when Joe DiMaggio told her to not wear low cut shirts because he didn't want men looking at her. Women are humans, not objects to conceal.

Now, I'm in Turkey where wearing the headscarf was banned in the public arena (i.e. Universities, Government offices, etc.) in the early 1920s by Ataturk. Call it a method of modernization. Maybe it had a place and time there, but in today's modern world, CHOICE reign supreme.

Even so, I was reading a case that as early as 2005, in Sahin v. Turkey, a European Court of Human Rights Case. In 1998, young Leyla Sahin had to quit her studies at Istanbul University for wearing a headscarf-- still considered "illegal" in the public sphere. She ended up in Austria, but pursued the case in a Human Rights Court. The ultimate ruling 1) claimed the everyone has the right of freedom of thought or expression but 2) Manifestations of this can be limited in the interest of public safety. Basically, they upheld the fact banning the scarf was okay.

So I thought, hmmmm---no headscarves in Turkish Schools right?

Wrong. I walk into some of the universities on my summit (I am being intentionally vague here) and see plenty of veiled women. I gingerly brought it up in discussion. The women and the professor said basically that there are larger problems in the world than what a woman puts on her head. Go Universities.

Afterwards, I had the women come up to me and ask for my e-mail address. And by the way I really liked their scarves. Bringing me to:


I love to wrap Hermes scarves on my head, waist, neck, bag, body (in general). This one below is part of the La Femme aux Semelles de Vent collection. Though inspired by frenchwoman Alexandra David-Neel's exploration to Tibet, it reminded me of Istanbul and my own journeys in a way. Plus, it looks a little less "Lisa Frank" than Hermes scarves last summer did...
Remember, scarves should not be worn for the picture or motif, but rather the colors and patterns they offer when you fold them!

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