I recently came across a post on the NorthernLight blogspot, concerning a discussion the blogger Toby had with some of his mates while rock climbing. The issue over boob implants and the Muslim veil came up and I commented with the following:
Both phenomenon’s are to a degree, a direct result of misogynist societal pressure upon women to conform to male expectations. One stems from religious considerations and the other secular. But while both pressures need to be repudiated as an unacceptable “norm” for women in general, the “veil issue” presents itself as the most disturbing of the two.
While it’s taken for granted that a western secular woman has “the freedom to choose” (and also reverse that choice) to become subjugated to the fashionable trends currently prevailing in the West, the freedom of a Muslim woman living in the West “to decide for herself” whether or not she will wear a veil is not taken for granted. While it’s true that not all (perhaps the majority) Muslim women living in the West or the Muslim world wear a veil, those who traditionally do so, are not in a position to “buck the norm” and choose otherwise. That’s the difference.
One is an enforced, mandatory requirement in a portion of society that offers no other alternative but to conform, the other is the influence of a modern society through its multi media that “may or may not” indirectly induce a woman to change her appearance. The fact that breast implants transcends all political, religious and ethnic backgrounds, no one group can claim any type of victimization from this type of misogynism, all are susceptible, but not exclusive. So in my opinion the comparison between the two is not altogether a good one.
The social problems that arise when one immigrant culture (minority) clashes with the culture (majority) in which it lives, has to be understood in the following context. The main culture, while practicing tolerance towards the sensitivities of the minority viewpoint/culture, cannot be entirely expected to change its own social/political structure, values and habits to accommodate those of the immigrant minority. This is clearly what the veil issue in Britian is bringing forward. Jack Straw din’t say that he objected to the wearing of a veil per say, but only when he is in private consoltation with the person in question. The same for a doctor or judge who needs to see (at least from a westerners perspective) the face as means to ascertain the information lacking. That said, the immigrant culture has to be expected to accommodate the host culture social values, such as no veils when it is deemed neccessary, and the customary shaking of hands with women ect. It would be permissable for a Muslim woman to object to a male swimming instructor for her daughter, but impermissble to demand for her to be a Muslim as well.
One could take this even further with the recent brouhaha of Muslim taxi drivers refusing fares to customers carrying alcoholic beverages. You cannot impose one’s religious beliefs upon the non-believing. That this is raising the ire of the British Muslim community in general, shows just how entrenched the Islamic attitude is towards the social values of a liberal democracy. One side has to give, the question remains just which side do we wish to see prevailing?