Veil your lollipop

Veil your lollipop July 2, 2008

This was written by Ursula Lindsay and originally published at The Arabist.

MMW thanks Forsoothsayer for the tip!

I was sent this image in an email forward.
The text says: “You can’t stop them, but you can protect yourself.”
Two obvious (and rhetorical) questions: Can we really not stop harassment? And does veiling really “protect” you?

Editor’s Note: This advertisement refers to women covering themselves up (with a headscarf, presumably) in order to combat sexual harassment.

Women are not lollipops. This is really just a new twist on the old idea that women are objects to be protected: glass, pearls, precious gems, what have you. Except now it has a sexual subtext that women are objects…that you can lick!

It also places blame on women who don’t wear headscarves: the old “blame the victim” mentality. “Well, she wasn’t wearing a scarf, what did she expect?” Meanwhile, the harasser is absolved of his mistreatment of a woman entirely.

The author of this post asks whether veiling can really “protect” a woman, and the answer is no. Women in predominately Muslim countries like Egypt know that a headscarf will not stop men from staring, making comments, touching, or raping a woman because these actions are about power and ownership rather than sexuality.

Nor will a headscarf stop other types of harassment: women who wear headscarves in the West know that it can open a woman to Islamophobic, xenophobic, or racist harassment.

For some more viewpoints, check out Les Observateurs.

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