One of the things I was not aware of before our class this week was my lack of knowledge about the Middle East. I relied way too heavily on the information being provided by media outlets and did little research of my own. It was class today and the articles for this week that helped me truly see the distinctions between Arab, Middle Eastern, and Muslim. I had used them interchangeably and never realized the political implications that came with the terms.
A very interesting topic from the articles and the class discussion was the veil and the real meanings behind it. I had always seen it as a symbol of oppression but I have learned it is cultural and has been used in a way to empower women and allow them to express their religious values. The discussion in class also helped me see that even in the Western world we have a form of veiling and ways to oppress women’s ability to speak freely. In one of the articles it was stated that American women were sending over makeup and other cosmetics to give these veiled women freedom to do what they want but in reality it was just switching out the “Eastern” form of veiling for a “Western” form.
This week’s discussion made me think about ways we in America oppress our women. Thinking back to the article “The More You Subtract, the More You Add” we see advertisements that state things such as “Let them do the talking” referring to nail polish and silencing the woman who is wearing it. In the Western world women should allow their clothes to do the talking; to be seen not heard. The article also touches on the way women are posed in ways to cover the mouth or to show a subdued nature. I found it very interesting how Princess Hijab used the veil to reveal and cause discussion about topics such as the way women are portrayed. Why does America think we can “save” Middle Eastern women from oppression when we live in a culture that oppresses women?
These articles were very thought provoking and truly made me question all the things I had simply overlooked in the past. It also made me realize how much the media and government rely on these messages to help justify the war. Being an American who was very young when 9/11 happened I was spoon fed these ideas of savagery and oppression, and never even questioned it. It is truly scary the things that we take away from media subconsciously and without further question.