Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bra is Great

Sooraya Graham, a devout Muslim and an art student in British Columbia, took a photo of a woman draped in niqab and abaya (face veil and full-body covering) folding a bra while doing her laundry. Needless to say this sparked great controversy: a Muslim woman doing laundry? That must be an insult to Islam. Or maybe it was the bra. I don’t know.

Personally I don’t wear a bra, though there was a time many years ago when I could have used the extra support. Nor do I wear a niqab or an abaya, so really what do I know? Well, I’ll tell you what I know—it is wrong to let men know that women where bras. Just the other day a student wondered aloud after class whether a similarly clad co-ed was wearing anything under her abaya. Enquireing minds want to know. And now we do.

The principle behind women’s modesty (and this is true in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim cultures) is that men cannot control themselves. And there is no limit to how little it takes to set men off. An exposed ankle did it in Victorian times. A naked elbow today can cause a Jewish or Muslim man to go on a rampage.

When I was growing up in an Orthodox shul the woman prayed upstairs behind a wall because the men believed that seeing a woman during prayer would distract the man from praying. God or girls—which really grabs the attention of men?

Of course these men insist this is God’s will, not their own. Given that porn is universal among men of every culture, I tend to believe them. If it were up to men, women would be forbidden from wearing any clothes whatsoever. So God steps in to protect them.

Good for God. Bad for Ms. Graham since her photo was torn down by a fellow Muslim woman who found it offensive. Or maybe good for Ms. Graham, too, in that her work is being talked about globally in a world where most people couldn’t find British Columbia on a map.

So maybe it is win-win-win here. God is honored. The woman who tore the photo down feels good about demonstrating against freedom of speech and artistic license. And Ms. Graham gets her photo to go viral on the Internet.

 Sooraya Graham Bra Muslim


Mordechai Ben Nathan said...

It is hardly convincing or a tour de force of logic to disprove a general proposition by providing that proposition's most extreme example. For example extreme Moslem attire does not disprove the benefits of modest attire.

With the exception of the southern hemisphere modest attire for both men and women has been in vogue for millenia. By contrast immodest attire has been a manifestation of only the last 100 years or less. Was there no beneficial rationale for what appears to be a near universal preference of dress in Asia, the Near Ease, and Europe?

It seems to me to be shallow and facile to attribute modest attire in women to exploitative behavior of men that has at its root irrepressible sexual perversion.

The aggrandizement of the physical form has reached epidemic proportions. Plastic surgery has mushroomed for example to evels of uber absurdity. Women seek breast reduction or breast enlargement. The perfect breast is but a mirage. Lips need to be made thinner or more pouty. Noses need to be enlarged or made smaller. All of this bespeaks a rather sick obsession with the fleeting and superficial physical form.

Women's who are not genetically predisposed to this kind of physical beauty often suffer low self esteem as they are unable to reach what this society dictates is the model of beauty that so fewcan achieve. And those who do achieve it lose it after a few years. No wonder depression in our society is rampant with no end in sight.

Perhaps modest attire is designed to accentuate humility and focus upon the depth of inner beauty. Perhaps our ancestors in recognizing the benefits of modest attire had much greater insight than we do today. Perhaps we can learn something from them. And maybe just maybe this is not about the sexual perversion of men but speaks to a deeper and more spiritual logic. EMMES

Mordechai Ben Nathan

Tricia Datené said...

I live in British Columbia which is a multi-cultural society. On the street on any given day, I have seen both women and men who were half naked, and women in abayas. I am grateful that I live in a society where people can be themselves. I am not saying there is no prejudice in British Columbia, but the laws support freedom of expression and freedom of religion. I do notice that most second-generation women of conservative religious backgrounds adopt more liberal behaviours when they realize that we live in a relatively free country.

It is greed and lust that are the problems, not showing a bit of skin. As Rousseau said,
"Modesty only begins with the knowledge of evil"

Tricia Datené
Duncan, British Columbia, Canada

Maggid said...

It's a beautiful photo - beautiful Post and beautiful undergarment . . .

Thank you for your work.

Fraser said...

I agree with Maggid. Jealousy is such an ugly emotion. The 'tearer down' must have a shabby bra collection. Lets us know too that sexual beauty exists in that covered form as well.
Mordecai's reference to the Southern Hemisphere is interesting.The South Pacific has never traditionally had any concept of attire being to do with modesty. Modesty and humility are attitudes. In Tonga they used to have a courting game for young persons. They would all head into the lagoon naked and have to carry, underwater, a heavy rock which enabled them to sort of run along the sand from one spot to another. There was lots of 'jostling' during the game. The women were no push overs in this society however despite 90% of their bodies being constantly on view. (so were the men's of course)
Much like the stories of Coyote winning over his love with magic beans and a mystical dance in Southern American folklore, men had to really be sharp with their courting and their gifts. European missionaries really had problems with all this and effected change in this dress code and behaviour.
Long dresses have been the norm for a long time now although that is changing.