Wednesday, June 27, 2007

An Ugly Question

I think one of the purposes of this blog is to voice things that I might not have otherwise said/noticed. The other day I was walking around when I saw two women, completely veiled in that certain Muslim style (I am not sure which branch of Islam or which region does this). What I mean, is that the women were completely covered from head to toe in a black veil that only exposed their eyes through a thin slit.

An ugly question came into my mind.
"Are some cultures wrong?"

Further explanation: Are there parts of some cultures, whether it be traditional food, garb, dance, song, etc. that are actually wrong: are there cultures that should be changed? Now, this is a bad question, because who am I to say somebody's traditions are bad? I am in no way qualified. However, I am not making that accusation either. Just simply asking the question.

I asked this question, because when I saw the two women (am I ashamed to say this?) I actually felt kind of angry. Why do they need to shield every square inch of their bodies while in public? What good comes from that? Besides the obvious vitamin D deprivation (which we get from exposure to sunlight), I can't imagine their self esteem is great. Again, this is truly uneducational pontifications. I am just sort of thinking out loud (well, thinking via the keyboard).

Again, can somebody say that another culture should change? Can I say that those women should not have to completely cover themselves? Maybe they want to. Maybe they enjoy being covered. Maybe its what brings them happiness, and here is this kid from New York saying you shouldn't have to wear that.

Well, I am not saying that.... just thinking it. An analogy of sorts that I can draw is to.... brace yourselves.... genital mutilation in parts of Africa. [DISCLAIMER: I am in NO way educated on this subject. This is what I remember from conversations with Becca and others who are way more educated than I in this area. Yet, we can still talk about it.] Is genital mutilation wrong, or bad? Um, I think so. What happens is that some groups of people ritually cut off girl's clitoris or other sort of ghastly things. I can truthfully say, that is wrong and worthy of changing. I would support it being banned, even if that meant an infringment on Freedom of Worship or other associated freedoms.

Why? I don't know. I just don't think its right. The same with the veils. It just seems wrong to me. I wouldn't ever support a ban on veils, because that is not doing actually physical harm to those underneath (and, if they really wanted to, they could take it off. Not so with the genital mutilation).
Another question: Can a group of people actually force another group to change? Obviously, I am referring to the question as to whether a country, say the USA, could ban certain cultural practices. We actually do, I think, ban certain things. If a culture included cannabilism, yeah, that would be banned.

Huh. I think I just answered my original question. We can label cultural associations as "bad" or "wrong." We do now. But what about the veils? No. We cannot (nor should we [whoever "we" is]) force that change. That's okay. I just hope the women underneath have the opportunity to choose if they want to wear them or not, without fear of repercussions.

With that, it's time to get ready for dinner. I went to see an apartment today, only to face an unknown audition. The woman who owns and lives in the place had a bunch of people come over to check out the flat. I went in, only to be sat down and interrogated about my life and plans here in Munich. I kept waiting for Jack Bauer to come in, jam my kneecap with a penknife and order 8cc of sodium penthol (No Jack! That's a lethal dose! Dammit!). Anyway, I hope I was charming enough to win her over (we know that the old ladies love me. But she was different. Shaking my hips would have been in poor taste).

Epic Post Matt!

1 comment:

Mom said...

You reminded me of the time I had a woman witness who was dressed as you described, head to toe and we got to talking about it (girl talk, I guess) and she told me that only her husband and maybe her brothers were the only men who could see her hair (her husband only her body). When her husband came in the room to testify he was staring at me and I toused my hair at him. How horrible am I!!