I Want to Wear a Burqa

Here is a thought provoking comment from a reader in response to my post: The Burqa: Limiting Women’s Power and Autonomy  

I am a typical American woman. I was born and raised LDS in the Intermountain West and now live in Texas. I own a burqa. I have worn it out numerous times, mostly as a way to see how it feels to be out and about and not be seen as a face or body. I felt so self conscious that I dont think I was able to fully appreciate the experience. Because I live in a culture that values youth and beauty and where people don’t hesitate to judge you by your appearance I have often wished that there was a neutralizing agent, like a burqa, that could help dissipate those judgments. Kind of like what a school uniform is to clothing in a school, of course the burqa being an extreme form of that.

Comments, anyone?

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 24, 2010, in body image, feminism, gender, race/ethnicity, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. first off, i wouldn’t attempt to label the burka (or any cultural signifier) as either feminist or ‘disempowering’. western conceptions of femininity and of the construction of gender itself vary in such fundamental ways that i don’t think it’s fair to categorize religious practices/cultural processes/the indefinite boundary between the two under such a clear-cut dichotomy.

    to channel some form of constructivism….what you interpret from a cultural process is the product of you having internalized the symbolism of the ideology and dominant discourse in which someone’s immersed, not of the ‘endowment of meaning’ in objects/imagery/cultural phenomena by some external power independent of ideology and culture. in other words you see the burka as anti-feminist, and some americans see it as empowering, but someone who shares the latter opinion in some form and who’s immersed in muslim culture would have a wholly different understanding of the so-called meaning behind the burka, i.e. meaning is objective and fluid

    so for someone to say “i want to wear a burka” seems a bit like fetishism at best.
    just my opinion

    great post, i love discussing this kind of thing :)

  2. Meaning is indeed subjective and fluid. I think it’s a little harsh to write-off the Texan lady’s desire to try out a burka as ‘fetishism’. Especially as she explains her interest – that she’s looking for a way to avoid being judged by her face or body. An understandable sentiment in today’s youth and beauty obsessed society I would have thought. And walking a mile in someone else’s erm, burka strikes me as a refreshingly open-minded way of exploring/trying to understand an ‘alien’ practice.

  3. It’s surprising that a burqa would even be considered a way to avoid being judged by physical looks, because so much of an individual is determined by how they present themselves – such as confidence and character. I feel like you are removing a person’s identity by preventing people to see that persons expression and body movements. Its difficult to trust a person whose face is covered from view.

    Now, I am not saying that wearing a burqa is wrong, but I feel like it all separates a person from fully integrating into society. The women who wear burqas don’t wear them at home, in the comfort of their female friends and relatives. Obviously, people need face to face interaction to create ties.

  4. kaylyn delvecchio

    I am an american born and raised and would also like to wear a burqa, but I do not because I fear negative reactions. I just get so tired of seeing Men look at me and probably rating me on some 1-10 fuckability scale.

  5. This world is a test. You do good, you pass, you do bad you fail. Congratulations sister. Way to go!

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