Friday, August 10, 2007

Deep Question: Oppression

Deep Question: "Is it still oppression if I don't care that I'm being oppressed?"

Today I was reading in the Winnipeg Free Press an article ("I Am Not Oppressed) by an educated Muslim women who says that she wears the hijab (traditional Muslim head scarf):

Twenty years ago, when I was recently married and a graduate student at the London School of Economics, I, too, started to wear the hijab. I took this step with no pressure from my parents or my husband. It came after years of hesitation, years during which I held back out of fear that I would look ugly in a head scarf and that my progressive friends would make fun of me.

But I had so often gazed with longing at the girls at university who covered their hair, and I wanted to be like them. To me they seemed romantic, feminine, wrapped in some kind of mystique. I liked the look, but it was more than that. I was persuaded by the religious argument for the veil, which stresses modesty. I wanted to take a step in the right direction.

Recently, Muslim progressives have softened their stance against the veil. In some countries, the hijab's widespread popularity has made it almost the norm, rather than a gesture of defiance by a minority. Also, the veil has turned out to be a red herring; it has not stalled Muslim women's advancement, as was feared.
Oppression, it is true, is in the eye of the beholder.

Jobina and I got into an animated discussion about oppression yesterday. We were talking about how feminists get upset because they see oppression everywhere and sometimes when they see it and try to point it out to these women, the women don't can't see it (they disagree). Other times, something unique happens - these women simply don't care. This realization came to us when I hypothesized to Jobina that the women in the Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty were being oppressed because they were being objectified (just like any other female model) and that really this was low level oppression against the models and against the women who viewed the models as well. (I'm not sure if I agree with my own thought, but I like to throw crazy thoughts out to my wife and see her get upset!) Later in the conversation Jobina said, "Is it still oppression if I don't care that I'm being oppressed?" I thought that this was a very humorous and thoughtful question! Sometimes we genuinely accept or even embrace being oppressed and I find that fascinating. Can you think of an example where you know you are being oppressed but you accept or even embrace it?

May Light increase!


Jobina said...

Mark, Mark, Mark...What I actually said was, "Ok, maybe you're right. Maybe I am being oppressed. But you know what? I'm ok with that."

Mark said...

Doh! On-line chastisement! I am feeling a little oppressed over this . . .

Sorry, honey, but I think you'll agree that my question does sum up the basics of what you were asking. What did you think of the WFP article?

Jobina said...

I really liked the article and I could really see myself in that woman. The western world has their own view of veiling and most probably see it as oppression, but when I read this woman's words and hear her thoughts I don't get the impression that she is being oppressed at all. Maybe I don't understand it fully, that's a possibility, but I just don't see it.

stacey said...

you two are the cutest. I'm just curious; do you comment on each other's blog and wait until the other notices? Or do you have a conversation about this in person, over dinner maybe? Imagining: "Yeah honey, I commented about that on your blog, so you can read about it there." hehehe

I was going to comment on oppression but after I read your comments I lost my train of thought. :-O

Mark said...

Um, probably both actually. I like to draw Jobina into discussions about ideas and sometimes I'm amazed where she takes them. I'd still be interested in your thoughts on oppression Stacey!