This is an impromptu blog post that stems from a link I followed on Facebook. It was to this article about a woman who swore off tight clothes, make up, and showing her hair for nine months. I followed the link to her personal blog and I was met with this cartoon:
I had to read this a couple of times to get it, then it was like a bomb went off in my mind. Oh my God, yes yes yes!
Before you read on take a moment to try and understand what this is saying for yourself.
Many Westernized women have the idea that a woman who must cover her whole body or just her hair is doing so because a man is forcing her to. Before I went to Morocco to live I heard a woman speak in one of my college classes who described a head scarf as freedom. I had never heard this before, but it really was true. By covering her hair a Muslim woman is free from being judged based solely on her looks. She has the freedom to go about the world without being looked at as just a sexual object.
The woman on the left in this cartoon thinks that the woman on the right is ruled by men because she must cover herself. The woman on the right thinks the woman on the left is ruled by men because she must show herself off.
In the end we both think the same things. As women, no matter where we are we all seem to be ruled by men in some way. Some more apparent than others.
While living in Morocco I was struck at times with amazement on how completely opposite some cultural things are. This is the perfect example. Two women, complete polar opposites of each other, but feeling the very same thing.
Living in Morocco was an experience full of a lot of things. There were times I felt suppressed as a woman, but there were also times that I felt liberated. For two years I wore minimal, if not zero make-up, only washed my hair once a week, sometimes even covered it, and wore baggy clothes. It was so nice not to have to care if I looked beautiful enough to go outside, because I really wasn't looking for any attention anyways.
Two years of this has stuck with me. Before being in Peace Corps you would have never seen me out of the house without at least mascara and eyebrow pencil on. Now I still have several days that I go "au naturale" and it feels to good being able to touch your own face without worrying you are going to smudge something. There are many days I wish I could cover my hair with a headscarf and I do sometimes at home. Just as I know people looked at me funny for not covering my hair in Morocco, people would look at me funny in America for doing it.
I know that as American women we do have many more freedoms that some of our Middle Eastern counterparts, but we do still have a long ways to go.