Archives Latest Mona Eltahawy Monday Magazine

Under Cover | 3 Quarks Daily

Under Cover | 3 Quarks Daily

by Joan Harvey

Web page from August 2018 Vogue

Despite the fact that I knew higher, once I was informed I might get free journal subscriptions with my minimal airline miles that might in any other case expire, I succumbed. In fact I didn’t want any extra studying materials, and I used to be absolutely conscious of the waste they’d create, however I allowed myself to be lured by the concept getting one thing was higher than getting nothing. So I acquired Meals and Wine, with recipes that I might by no means make, and Conde Nast Traveler, with glamorous pictures of locations I’ll by no means go. And I acquired Vogue, with, naturally, garments I’ll by no means put on. I’ve all the time loved trend. However I discovered the primary difficulty I acquired, August, disturbing. I used to be astonished at how coated up all of the fashions have been. Virtually no pores and skin anyplace. Necklines have been excessive, so excessive that there have been turtlenecks even on summer time clothes. Turtlenecks even on the seashore. Lengthy coats over full size physique fits on the seashore. Gigi Hadid, of Dutch and Palestinian heritage (I suppose to keep away from problems with cultural appropriation) is proven in a head scarf and a coat the identical inexperienced because the sister wives in The Handmaid’s Story. And, naturally, she too is sporting a turtleneck. There are additionally virtually no legs to be seen within the problem. Clothes are shapeless and lengthy. Even naked arms are uncommon. Hair is reduce brief or coated up. The September Vogue was not a lot totally different. Extra lengthy clothes, extra head scarves, extra turtlenecks on the seashore. Although on this difficulty we do get some photographs of Beyoncé’s legs.

An article within the September Vogue by Lynne Yaeger asks: “Is there seduction in concealment?” The fashions within the photographs accompanying her essay haven’t simply their our bodies, however their faces coated as nicely. “What is the meaning of this peekaboo?” Yaeger writes. “Is this desire to cover up— which manifested itself in the all 2018 collections not just with covered heads but with modest necklines and voluminous long sleeves—a reflection of the #MeToo moment, a rage against the sexual-objectification machine? . . . Or perhaps the new visibility of women in the Middle East, and they way that hijabs are finding their way into the fashion vocabulary, is playing a role? Or could it just be that in an age of Instagram vainglory the allure of literally covering up, of not being so endlessly available, has its own currency?”[1]

This being a trend journal, Yaeger doesn’t reply her questions, however continues on to debate the type of make-up that goes greatest with headscarves. However her questions are worthwhile. Trend is, in fact, about commerce. An extended coat brings in additional than a bikini (and the coats this yr are David Byrne Speaking Heads big). Trend all the time goes by way of cycles, hemlines rise and fall. However this specific development appears extra unsettling as a result of we’re one 71-year-old, misogynist, abusive, dotard away from a spiritual prude who famously gained’t be alone with a lady not his spouse. This can be a time when The Handmaid’s Story appears all too shut, when two conservative Catholic males who will probably be efficient in eradicating abortion rights have simply been placed on the Supreme Courtroom, when ladies who supported Dr. Blasey Ford have been brazenly shamed and ridiculed and harassed.

True, a lady in an outsized sweater, lengthy skirt, tights and boots, just isn’t displaying rather more pores and skin than the fashions within the journal, however she will look pure or attractive or naturally attractive, whereas these garments displayed with no flowing hair and no curves seen anyplace appear fairly totally different. An identical development now being pushed has been dubbed “Prairie Chic.” “The prints are Laura Ashley-esque micro-florals, calicos and gingham, the necklines are high, sometimes there is a bib or apron, there is usually at least one ruffle.”[2] Actually? Ladies need to put on this? Why? It seems that Batsheva Hay, one of many foremost forces behind the prairie gown look, is, no shock, a convert to Orthodox Judaism and was married in a ceremony by which women and men have been separated from one another. In a bit within the New Yorker, Hay muses on the “effortless confidence projected by Amish and Hasidic women.”[3] A lady sporting one among her clothes despatched a photograph to a pal who wrote again: “’I can’t tell if I love it or if it’s your ‘Big Love’ Halloween costume,’ followed by a still of Chloë Sevigny from the HBO show about Mormon fundamentalists, wearing almost the identical ensemble, down to the ruffled collar and oxen tongue pink color.”[4]

It’s troubling to see how shortly trend has appeared to embrace a brand new prudishness with spiritual undertones. In fact, in eager for faith, individuals lengthy for group, for being advised what to do; it’s now typically stated that Western Liberalism has failed. Faith has such a pull, Neil MacGregor writes due to “the power of narratives that articulate an ideal, that offer fulfillment in the context of a community, make demands on everyone, and – above all – hold out hope. It may be a matter for regret, it may represent a failure of secular politics, but it should certainly be no surprise that so many societies now see in such narratives of faith their best way.”[5]

This all appears to be a part of a nostalgia for becoming in, for having a spot, for the comforts of residence and guidelines and hierarchies. In Bavaria millennials are embracing dirndls and lederhosen, a development with some scary undertones. However, as with MAGA, we can’t return to some imagined higher time. Maybe the rich ladies sporting these costly prairie clothes really feel so liberated and assured that they know their butter churning fantasies gained’t impinge on their work lives, that they’ll nonetheless have equality at residence; perhaps the clothes simply make them really feel extra female, or perhaps they discover it kinky to play pioneer virgin. There’s one thing just a little Marie Antoinette about it. Nevertheless it appears harmful to embrace an aesthetic of prudery with spiritual alerts when that can also be being pushed on ladies from the surface. As if ladies had taken it upon themselves to make their our bodies unsexual, constrained, hidden, each to scale back what’s seen as too sexual, and, as a result of males supposedly can’t restrain themselves.

A younger lady, Hailey Gates, who wears Batsheva prairie clothes, remarks that she heard somebody describe a Batsheva design “as the perfect dress for the #MeToo movement, which I found truly asinine. People still seem to believe that the amount of clothing a woman wears dictates whether she will be assaulted or not.”[6] And, from what I’ve learn, in Islamic nations the place ladies are much more coated up than we’re, harassment and groping nonetheless go on in public locations.

I confess that after Vogue I used to be relieved to seek out that the school women in my city have been virtually all nonetheless sporting brief shorts and the streets have been full of lengthy naked tanned legs. What a disgrace it might be for younger ladies on the peak of their magnificence and sexuality to overlook solar and air on their pores and skin and freedom of motion and the power to point out themselves off. I’m with Nora Ephron who famously stated, “If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re thirty-four.”

Naturally, it’s onerous to deal with this topic with out opening the entire query of freedom of selection in what one must be allowed to put on or not. I perceive that it will be as arduous for a lady used to sporting a headband to take it off, as it might be for me to place one on. I need to utterly respect every lady’s option to put on what feels proper. An Iranian-American good friend of mine, who has by no means worn a hijab just lately thought-about placing one on in response to the racism she skilled each at work and from the President. Ultimately she selected not to do that. However I perceive her sentiment. However, I feel it’s value studying Mona Eltahawy’s e-book Headscarves and Hymens for an insider’s view of the difficulty. It took Eltahawy a few years to have the braveness to take away her headband. However she helps the ban on the face veil. “I’m disappointed with the left wing in Europe for not speaking up and declaring that the niqab ban has everything to do with women’s rights; we are fighting against an ideology that does not believe in women’s rights. This is why I support the bans on the face veil that have been imposed in France, Belgium, and some parts of Barcelona, Spain. It is why I question why so many Muslim men jump to defend the niqab and the right to wear it.” (pp. 62-63) “The veil,” she writes, “be it the hijab or the niqab, is a white flag raised to signal our surrender to the Islamists and their conservatism.” (p. 47) “When Westerners remain silent out of ‘respect’ for foreign cultures, they show support only for the most conservative elements of those cultures. Cultural relativism is as much my enemy as the oppression I fight within my culture and faith.” (p. 28) “Implicit in the criticism of my essay was the charge that I want ‘the West’ to ‘rescue us.’ Only we can rescue ourselves. I have never implored anyone else to rescue us from misogyny; it is our fight to win. I implore allies of the countries in this part of the world to pay more attention to women’s rights and to refuse to allow cultural relativism to justify horrendous violations of women’s rights. This is very different from calling on anyone to ‘rescue us.’ I insist on the right to critique both.” (p. 28-29).[7]

Eltahawy quotes the feminist Khadija Riyadi: “Laws help to change mentalities. We don’t wait for mentalities to change on their own.”

Some years in the past I used to be in Turkey in a spot referred to as Patara, an attractive beachfront wildlife protect the place sea turtles got here to put eggs. It was a considerably depressed space, in contrast to the flamboyant Russian and English resorts additional down the coast. On the seashore at the moment European ladies went bare, American ladies wore bikinis, rich Turkish ladies wore burkinis, and the poorer native ladies went within the water absolutely dressed of their lengthy skirts and blouses and headscarves. However the males all wore little black speedos, it doesn’t matter what the ladies with them have been sporting. If there was one thing liberating about being utterly coated up on a scorching seashore, wouldn’t males leap to it?

In Patara we stayed in somewhat pension run by an exquisite man named Kazim who spoke wonderful English; his spouse and mom wore headscarves and did the very scrumptious cooking; sadly (and this speaks to the totally different schooling and standing of girls everywhere in the world), in contrast to Kazim they didn’t converse English. It was 2008, when Erdogan was Prime Minister and never but President, and at the moment, as a holdover from the times of Kemal Atatürk, ladies weren’t allowed to put on headscarves when attending college. Kazim stated he thought it was essential that the rule be stored. As a result of, he stated, as soon as headscarves have been allowed, it will quickly be taboo to not put on them. Kazim was proper. Under Erdogan the rule has in fact been modified and photographs present a lot of the ladies in courses with hair coated. Up to now 5 years, secular Turkish ladies say they discover themselves judged by an more and more conservative society.

That is in fact true in lots of locations. The nuclear physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy tells us that in Pakistan, “Increasing conservatism among Muslims has led to uncovered faces being regarded as sinful. Once upon a time there was no burqa on campus except maybe the odd one here or there. But today most women at my university – where I have taught for 44 years – are either in burqa or hijab.” He additionally talked about an incident through which the top cleric of an establishment subsequent to his College – “our ex-student – had threatened that his female students would throw acid on the faces of QAU female students unless they covered their faces.”

In America I’m positive this austere coated up look can be only a part, and doubtless not a well-liked one.We’re too used to our streamlined, snug, environment friendly garments, and we spend far an excessive amount of on hair merchandise, on train, on studying to understand ladies’s our bodies of all styles and sizes, to begin to disguise all the things. I personally don’t know any ladies who would placed on a prairie gown, however I reside within the sticks, and sarcastically it’s metropolis dwellers who’ve apparently taken up the look. Although on a current journey to New York I didn’t see one lady coated head to toe in ruffles and gingham. I lately had espresso with a pal, a stupendous, very politically lively lady in her mid-sixties. She was sporting a easy brief sleeveless gown in a deep purple t-shirt materials. It was snug and stylish and revealed legs, arms, and neck. It set off her white hair and she or he seemed beautiful in it. $10 from Costco, she stated. I discussed how the style now appeared to be overlaying ladies utterly. “You mean those prairie dresses,” she stated. “Give me a break.”

This yr there have been “sexy” handmaids costumes marketed for Halloween, although they’ve since been faraway from the web sites. Nice, a horny keep-me-as-a-slave-and-rape-me-until-I’m pregnant costume? We’re, I feel, very confused. However, extra to the purpose, the ladies protesting Kavanaugh included ladies who have been appropriately dressed as handmaids. And, on a considerably optimistic observe, nearly all of the ladies—indignant, vocal, distressed—who have been protesting Kavanaugh wore t-shirts and denims, garments that aren’t about hiding, however quite about freedom of motion. These ladies aren’t going again. They aren’t embracing patriarchal religions that discover ladies’s lives secondary to these of their husbands and offspring. As an alternative, these ladies are exposing the reality, and are within the entrance strains preventing towards those that need to cowl it up.

[1] Yaeger, Lynn. (2018, September). “Cover Story,” Vogue, September, p. 587.

[2] 1





[7] Eltahawy, Mona. (2016) Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Center East Wants a Sexual Revolution. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Version.


(perform(d, s, id)
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); = id;
js.src = “//”;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
(doc, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

About the author