September 20th, 2022
‘Gasht-e Ershad [the Iranian morality police] is wrong because it has had no result except loss and damage for the country.’

One – only one – Iranian politician gets it. When the state deputizes squads of insane misogynists/religious fanatics to wander all over Tehran harassing women who don’t look quite as much like death warmed over as they would like, you’re asking for trouble.

I mean, I’m sure these loons have been beating/jailing inadequately hijabed women there for some time; but since no one’s up and died, it hasn’t been that big a deal, right?

But it was only a matter of time before the nutso woman-hatred Iran has let loose on its streets (and after all, as Mona Eltahawy points out, violent woman-hatred was already baked in long before the loons assumed power) was going to kill someone; and since Iran already has millions of women who profoundly resent mandatory swaddling, the shit has now hit the fan with the killing of a young woman in custody.

Wonder if it’ll spread to Afghanistan.

It certainly seems to be spreading – quickly – through Iran.

August 27th, 2022
The disgraceful practice of placing infants and children under hijabs…

… has attracted growing interest in democratic countries, with the latest proposed crackdown on it coming from Denmark, where a commission has recommended a hijab ban in elementary schools.

July 20th, 2022
‘Islamic veil: Why fewer women in North Africa are wearing it.’

What a welcome headline! And when you put it together with what looks like a really serious rebellion against mandatory woman-covering in Iran, the future of the secular public realm, and of equality between the sexes, seems a bit brighter.

We shouldn’t forget, along these lines, the myriad burqa bans around the globe.

The article from whose headline I quote above duly notes the now-notorious irony:

Merely criticising the hijab in Western democracies has also become almost synonymous with “Islamophobia” or attacks on minority rights.

But in Muslim-majority societies it is still regarded as part of a legitimate campaign for the liberation of women from stifling tradition.

July 13th, 2022
‘Dozens of women have been jailed in Iran for their activism against forced veiling.’

On the regime’s recent Celebrate Your Nonexistence Day, some brave Iranian women removed their veils – only the latest form of hijab-disobedience among women forced to abide that theocracy.

Things are of course much, much darker in Afghanistan; UD will admit to having trouble thinking about daily life for girls and women in Afghanistan. But Iran is also a hellhole for women, who must start swaddling themselves at age nine or risk long jail terms.

Yet there’s plenty of evidence that many women and men there are willing to kick hard against the regime’s sex-obsession, even if it means imprisonment. Indeed there is reason to hope that at some time in the not too distant future imams may be able to glance at unveiled women without getting non-Allah-approved hard-ons.

June 21st, 2022
You didn’t really mean it, right? Actually, yes, we really meant it.

France is a secular republic, and this matters to them. Within that secularity, the equality of women and men – anathema to many theocracies – also matters to them. When France outlawed burqas, burkinis, and other overt marks of gender and religious submission, it made a strong statement about the primary importance of preserving to the extent possible a secular, egalitarian, public realm.

The full draping of women’s bodies in an expression of obedience to religious modesty mandates is anathema to a secular, egalitarian republic like France, so no one should be surprised that the city of Grenoble’s attempt to disobey the country’s burkini ban would provoke an outcry.

Grenoble has done what it can within the country’s court system to try to uphold its refusal to ban the garment, but today France’s top administrative court said nope. Not in public.

Grenoble is free to go to higher international courts, and I suppose it will. It won’t prevail there either.

June 9th, 2022
‘The Taliban want to remove us women from society, which is why they are now forcing us to wear a hijab or burqa.’

Sing it, sister.

May 17th, 2022
‘The “burqa edict” is not just an escalation in the oppression of women. It is a declaration of war against their basic humanity. And with it, the Taliban has exposed its true intentions. How we respond is essential not only to the women of Afghanistan but for women everywhere.’

Okay, but where are the op/eds from rafts of Western women intellectuals, and from jolly burqa wearers all over Europe, saying Well of course there shouldn’t be an edict, but burqas are beautiful empowering expressions of piety and selfhood and you’re all defaming them just as much as Johnny and Amber are defaming each other … ?

I mean, everyone’s dumping on the burqa lately… It’s almost as if people think there’s… something wrong… with a heavy agonizingly constraining black full body bag robbing wearers of sunlight and peripheral vision, and featuring a heavy cloth strip over the mouths of women and little girls as if I mean is there some sort of symbolic value there…? That mouth thing?

So where are its defenders? They’re noisy enough when countries begin voting for burqa bans. They organize big pro-burqa marches and they tell us we’re Islamophobes for objecting to burqas. Where is all that moral passion now that everyone’s acting as if burqas are obviously atrocious? I’m waiting.

May 14th, 2022
Sing it.

How ya gonna keep em

Buried and choked

After they’ve learned

To breathe?


May 9th, 2022
Aw hell. Since, post-Taliban burqa mandate, everyone’s got nasty shit to say about that garment (and where are all the British burqa’ed women who routinely show up on the telly to insist that the shroud is beautiful and empowering?), I think we should revisit Polly Toynbee on the subject. SOS says: She’s a hell of a writer.

The top-to-toe burka, with its sinister, airless little grille, is more than an instrument of persecution, it is a public tarring and feathering of female sexuality. It transforms any woman into an object of defilement too untouchably disgusting to be seen. It is a garment of lurid sexual suggestiveness: what rampant desire and desirability lurks and leers beneath its dark mysteries? In its objectifying of women, it turns them into cowering creatures demanding and expecting violence and victimisation. Forget cultural sensibilities.

More moderate versions of the garb – the dull, uniform coat to the ground and the plain headscarf – have much the same effect, inspiring the lascivious thoughts they are designed to stifle. What is it about a woman that is so repellently sexual that she must diminish herself into drab uniformity while strolling down Oxford Street one step behind a husband who is kitted out in razor-sharp Armani and gold, pomaded hair and tight bum exposed to lustful eyes? (No letters please from British women who have taken the veil and claim it’s liberating. It is their right in a tolerant society to wear anything including rubber fetishes – but that has nothing to do with the systematic cultural oppression of women with no choice.)

May 9th, 2022
Yes, you’re starving. But at least you have to wear a burqa!

Campaign slogan, Afghan Supreme Leader Haibatullah Akhunzada.

His song:

A bag of bones under a full-body wrap!

Now tell me which leader can do better than that!


UPDATE: Comes now a charismatic young challenger to Akhunzada…

Campaign slogan: We CAN do better than that! I guarantee that that corpse will be a nine-year-old girl with no clitoris, just sold off to a seventy-year-old man!

May 7th, 2022
Taliban Returns to the Burqa
To the tune of Clementine.

Tried the hijab, tried abaya
Tried to keep our peckers down
But your nostrils we espy - ed
And our stiffies went to town

Only burqa only burqa
Only burqa keeps us down
We are lost and gone forever
When you wear just half a gown

O you whorish godless creatures
How you make our wieners fizz
When you show your brazen features
All the streets are lined with jiz

Only burqa only burqa
Only burqa keeps us down
We are lost and gone forever
When you just wear half a gown
February 2nd, 2022
If you missed No Hijab Day yesterday…

… here’s some required reading on the subject.

February 1st, 2022
Happy No Hijab…

Day! A wonderful opportunity not to toast the covering of sexually provocative women’s, girls’, and of course babies’ bodies the world over.

December 28th, 2021
Another dishonest move in the defense of putting three year old girls under hijabs.

An opinion piece writer begins by noting the specific controversy – the act of putting toddlers under hijabs – and then, in response, says only that “donning the hijab is an intimate matter of choice for most Muslim women in the West.”

Even if I grant that this writer is in a position to know that most Muslim women in the West freely choose the hijab, this is irrelevant to the matter at hand, which is whether a three-year-old chooses to wear the hijab.

As UD often says, you are getting absolutely nowhere if you refuse to engage honestly in this issue. Big majorities of populations all over the world, when asked, tend to vote to outlaw burqas and restrict hijabs. That is clearly, empirically, their choice. It is at odds with the choice of many Muslim women. And as for the choice of three-year-old girls, I think it’s just as empirically clear that in this matter they don’t have any. These are the facts with which you must deal.

December 21st, 2021
The Neonate Niqab; the Bouncing Baby Burqa…

… covering your girl child – girl infant – from the moment she pops out, in all her blasphemous sexiness – is big business around the world. The burgeoning popularity of female-blanketing means more and more stores in virtually every location are getting in on the trend. UD’s post title anticipates some product line names…

… And children’s songs… If you’re happy and hijabi clap your hands! If you’re…

Now we all know (if we read UD) that Quebec is in all kinds of trouble in the larger, uh, Canadian entity, because that province passed a law restricting public employees from wearing hijabs while on the job. We also know that everyone dumped on the French when their Senate passed a law (it went no further than the Senate) banning hijabs in public settings on people younger than eighteen. Yet when one of Canada’s most prominent pediatric physicians – the director of pediatric surgery at McGill – writes a shocked and angry response to a recent cover image on the Canadian Medical Association Journal, UD thinks it might be worth your while to read what he says.

“As a pediatric surgeon, I admit I would not typically have gravitated toward the excellent article in CMAJ by Drs. Bloch and Rozmovits if it wasn’t for the image that accompanied it — a picture of 2 girls, probably about 3 or 4 years old, reading together. One of them is covered in a hijab.

The image shocked and infuriated many. Yasmine Mohammed, a Vancouver activist who has championed equality for Muslim women, tweeted, “The cover of @CMAJ features a little girl in hijab. How disheartening to see my so-called liberal society condone something that is only happening in the most extremist of religious homes.” Another Muslim woman, a surgical trainee who wishes to remain anonymous, messaged me to express her horror at seeing the image, which triggered painful childhood memories of growing up in a fundamentalist Islamic society, where she was forced to wear the hijab from early childhood and taught that her body was desired by the opposite sex and should be covered. She later shared her perspective in a private conversation with the CMAJ interim editor-in-chief and publisher.

It has become “liberal” to see the hijab as a symbol of equity, diversity and inclusion. Out of the best intentions, the CMAJ editors probably chose this picture to accompany an article on the application of such principles in medical care.

I work in an urban tertiary academic children’s hospital embedded in an extremely multicultural environment. Many of my trainees, colleagues and patients’ parents (and some adolescent patients) wear the hijab. I respect each woman I interact with, as well as any woman’s choice to express her identity as she desires. Some women face harassment and discrimination for their choice to wear the hijab. That is real, and it is also wrong.

But respect does not alter the fact that the hijab, the niqab and the burka are also instruments of oppression for millions of girls and women around the world who are not allowed to make a choice. We are currently being reminded of this daily, as we see the tragic return of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and its effect on the subjugation of women and girls. Girls as old as those in the picture are being sold into marriage to old men — institutionalized child rape. The mentality that allows this to happen shares much with the one that leads to covering up a toddler. But even in so-called moderate Islamic countries, such as the one I grew up in, societal pressures heavily marginalize women who choose not to wear the hijab. In addition, women in these countries who are not Muslim and do not wear the hijab are often subject to intense harassment and discrimination. I know that, because some of these women are in my family. I respect the women who see the hijab as liberating. But we must also remember the women and girls who find it oppressive and misogynistic.

Ironically, the article explores evaluating interventions to address social risks to health. A young girl such as the one depicted in the image is typically also banned from riding a bike, swimming or participating in other activities that characterize a healthy childhood. She is taught, directly or indirectly, from an early age that she is a sexual object, and it is her responsibility to hide her features from the opposite sex, lest she attract them. A heavy burden for modesty is placed squarely on her shoulders. So many women have been traumatized by such an upbringing, which, I believe, frankly borders on child abuse. Is that not a social risk to health? Are these children not a vulnerable population?”


What will it take for you, and many other well-meaning people, acting “out of the best intentions,” to see what some subcultures are doing to their girls? Do you think that legitimizing bordering-on-child-abuse by featuring it on the covers of medical journals is a good idea?


UPDATE: After complaints, the letter has been retracted, with cringing apologies from the editor, along with her pledge never again to trespass onto the truth. A commenter at Retraction Watch gets it said:

‘Could someone explain exactly what is so terrible about the author’s claim: “Some women face harassment and discrimination for their choice to wear the hijab. That is real, and it is also wrong. But respect does not alter the fact that the hijab, the niqab and the burka are also instruments of oppression for millions of girls and women around the world who are not allowed to make a choice.”

Is that such a fundamentally unreasonable statement? Is the author incorrect that the hijab, niqab, and burka have—for many girls and women—associations with oppression? I expect that for many people the hijab is a harmless symbol, or even a mere fashion statement—but can’t the same be said of the Confederate battle flag, which is certainly a symbol of oppression to many people?

To be clear, the author did not argue that women shouldn’t wear hijabs. In fact, he explicitly said women should be able to dress however they please without being subjected to discrimination or harassment. What the author argued is that showing a toddler in a hijab isn’t a good way to represent cultural diversity. Perhaps the author is wrong about that—but if he is, then isn’t the appropriate course of action to present a counterargument pointing out the flaws in the author’s statements? Instead we get a retraction and a generic, uninformative statement from the editor apologizing for hurt feelings.’

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