Thoughts on Face-Covering from Resident of Arab Emirates

“Autumn” left the following comment on the “Burka Wedding” post, in response to a comment by Ora:

Ora wrote:
“I think there’s a big problem with covering the face. It’s dehumanizing. I don’t know what research, if any, has been done on the subject, but I would think that not seeing a someone’s face would make it easier to beat or otherwise abuse them.”

I agree with this, also it allows those with covered face to get away with rude behavior as well. I live in a Gulf Arab Country and a lot of women choose to cover their face with either a niqab (which can also be called a burqa – or ninja style as others like to call it) or a full veil. I have noticed that many (but of course not all) of these women are some of the rudest when it comes to things like waiting politely in line for something, they push in front of others etc. I am guessing that this is because of the anonymity that having their face lends them – they can’t be held accountable as a person for their actions. They can do something rude to someone, and if they seem them the next day, can walk by them without even being recognized and therefore held to account for their actions. Anyway, this is just my observation and these are women who probably did not choose the veil, it just is the norm for their families. So this is a danger to watch out for if it becomes the norm for certain communities – that it creates a detachment of a person from their own actions. Kind of like if one is invisible.

I think that people who choose to impose this on themselves (don’t grow up with it as a norm) have a whole other set of problems.

One thing that struck me from the interviews with these women was how one of them talked about how she feels like a princess when she goes out completely covered. This is identical to how converts (or “reverts” as they like to call themselves) to Islam who embrace the niqab or the full face veil speak about how they feel. There is one convert who who talks about how she wishes she could live in Saudi Arabia so she could be completely separated from men, (have separate elevators, etc.) she also refrains from speaking to men. She feels she is more respected by men, etc., and she feels good that her friend’s husband will not try to speak to her because of the way she dresses but will talk to her other friends who only wear the normal hijab (headscarf). This woman will not allow men to comment on her blog because she feels that even communicating with them that way (though they can’t see her or even hear her voice) is wrong. Another interesting thing that I noted about these converts is that most of them have had some traumatic experience or suffered from abuse – often sexual in nature – (which is known to result in a hate of one’s self or one’s own body.) I think there are always some sort of psychological issues when people choose / embrace extreme restrictions to the point of hampering their own ability to function. Not being able to see clearly, or not being able to talk to people including one’s own family, encumbering oneself with too many articles of clothing can all be quite problematic.

By the way I am not Jewish, but I found this article and discussion very interesting and I hope you don’t mind me commenting..

You also might be interested to know that I came across your blog because one of the muslim women’s blogs posted a link to it – not this article but the one about the Jewish soldiers helping the Palestinian smugglers..
Autumn | 01.07.09 – 12:39 pm | #

Autumn, thank you for your thought-provoking comments. I didn’t realize that a Muslim blog had linked here–it didn’t show up in my statistics.