Thursday, February 04, 2010

In the cultural trenches

In response to my recent burka post, “Decent Exposure: Women without veils, Men without pants,” The Red Electric’s Berlin correspondent wrote that the clash of cultures in Germany is no laughing matter.

She has a friend, a pediatrician, who often confronts the great divide between manifestations of Islam and Germany’s secular culture.

Our correspondent shares two examples.

An Arab couple with a newborn visited the doctor’s practice a couple of weeks ago. The woman was cloaked in a burka. It was the first time the doctor had personally encountered a woman fully covered. Her formless, faceless presence was unsettling as he attempted to address the newborn’s problems.

The doctor, like our correspondent, finds the burka “utterly demeaning to women.”

But the visit became even more disconcerting because, while the mother could ask the doctor questions, the couple insisted that he address only the husband, as is the custom.

While the doctor treated the child during the visit, he decided he could not continue to because he couldn’t communicate directly with the parent most responsible for the child’s health. He referred the couple and the infant to another doctor.

On another occasion, the doctor had a Turkish father come in with his teenage daughter. He asked the physician to determine if she was still a virgin. She was about to be married off and proof of her virginity was essential to striking the marital bargain. The doctor informed the father that he wasn't a gynecologist and didn't conduct such exams. Then the doctor added, "And even if I were, I would refuse you."

Our correspondent writes, “…after having lived in Europe a decade, I truly understand how the French and Germans feel about what is going on here. (Americans) need to come here and live in the trenches to understand.”

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Decent exposure: Women without veils, men without pants

Burka-gate in France needs some serious analysis.

I’m here to help.

As I understand it, the burkas (and headscarves and billowing, shapeless abayas) are intended to suppress lust among men folk.

Based on extensive personal research, I’m inclined to think it doesn’t work. Instead it triggers wild, fill-in-the-blank erotic fantasy.

No, the best way to stay the libidos of males is to require them to take off their pants. That way we can plainly see who is lustful and who isn’t.

Come to think of it, we are pretty repressive when it comes to covering up everyone, for whatever reason. A principal reason is to sustain foot traffic to Macy’s.

Where to begin? A “No shirt, no shoes, no service” mentality extends everywhere. The laws against public nudity are well established in most so-called “civilized” cultures.

So it's a good thing France is getting the ball rolling.

If Muslim women are prohibited in France from covering their heads, why shouldn't women anywhere be prohibited from covering, say, their breasts? And why shouldn't men be prohibited from hiding their genitals?

No, this whole cover-up business is all culturally dictated and is patently discriminatory, except on the lawless internet, where you can see as much or as little as you want.

One anti-burka argument in France has it that banning the burka is necessary because its folds provide a hiding place for bombs. Just today in Iraq, a woman suicide bomber concealed her explosive device in her abaya. Fifty-three people (and counting) died.

So what about “bra-bombers”? We have already seen male underwear and shoe bombers. Clothes of all kinds make swell explosives hiding places.

It won’t make Jockey, Maiden-Form, Calvin Klein or Hanes happy, but I say off with them all.

Increasingly our very survival depends on the cultural acceptance of buck-nakedness.

Besides, think of how universal nudity would expedite airport security. No need for invasive scanners when there's nothing to invade.

To stay warm, we could try hugging. Sounds like fun. Besides, it might just lead to world peace, that would end the bombs and we could all put our clothes back on.

But wait, that's what got us into trouble in the first place. . . .

Never mind.

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