January 12, 2010


On my home today, I passed a woman driving her car, waiting to make a right hand turn, dressed in an abaya. She stood out to me because she was in a light colored car and her black garment was a stark contrast. I stared more than I should only because it took me surprise. Living in a diverse area, with many different cultures, I'm used to seeing a flurry of colors. It is often I hear other languages being spoken around me. But to see a woman completely covered up except for her eyes was a bit of a surprise. I don't know much about abayas or burqas. All I do know is that it is a religious belief to cover themselves up completely. But why? What is the purpose? I wondered why their religion requires women to cover themselves and not men. Upon seeing her, I immediately thought of the movie Not Without my Daughter.

I believe with all my heart in women's rights. This is why I'm a Democrat. Seeing a woman dressed totally in black, by her choice or not, caused me to reflect on my beliefs. There's that old saying: 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do'. Loosely meaning behave as those around do which is all fine and dandy if you were around others that behaved in a way you agreed with or found enjoyment in their behaviors. For instance, if I was in Spain and the sixth hour rolled around, I would have no problem taking a siesta. I would defiantly partake in that behavior. However, if for some reason, I found myself in Saudi Arabia I would have a hard time behaving like the Romans. However, seeing her and only her and no one else dressed like her in my neck of the woods made me wonder if soon she'll be behaving like those around her. In a different country, around different cultures. Mixing company with women that don't share in the same beliefs as her world. Will she continue to cover herself up completely exposing her religious beliefs so openly? Or will she feel the need to peel that layer off and keep her views private?

This is an interesting thought for me. By simply dressing oneself, from head to toe, in black fabric a woman can make a very powerful statement. With one look, you can gather a good amount of information: her cultural background, her gender, and her religious beliefs. In a way, she is very brave living in a small American city to wear her 'life' on her sleeve so to speak. I'm not sure I would be so brave.


Angela_Cheerios and Pearls Necklace Stories said...

Hi Erin,
I understand your surprise when seeing a Muslim woman covered from head to toe. While I was spending Christmas in California, I stayed with my family at a hotel. There was some kind of a Muslim conference and a lot of Muslim guests stayed there. In the mornings when going to breakfast, I observed that women and children ate in a separate dining room from men. I respect everyone's choices, religious believes etc etc but THIS gave me shivers. I felt very sorry for these women. But on the other hand they didn't seem stressed out or unhappy. I guess they are used to certain ways; most likely they've always lived like this and don't desire or even crave any changes in their social status; the men seemed very comfortable and happy with the arrangement as well. Weird, but it is hard to accept such a huge difference in life styles between Muslims and lets say Christians, Catholics, Jewish etc.
By the way, this movie is heart breaking...

Erin said...

Interesting about eating in different rooms. Religion is fascinating...much I don't understand.