Cover up and close your legs, ladies, or we’ll all be blown to pieces!
Laura // 13 January 2010
In an Independent piece that must have turned Daily Fail darlings Melanie Philips, Jan Moir and Richard Littlejohn green with moral panic-filled envy, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown argues that the “wanton” clothing and sexually promiscuous behaviour of Britain’s female yoof is fuelling Islamic extremism in young Muslim men. The evidence? Poor Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a plane over Christmas, couldn’t cope with all that flesh:
At university he apparently cut himself off, tried to hold on to Islamic Puritanism in a country of no shame, no restraint. Millions of Britons of all backgrounds are alarmed by the dissipation and debauchery that now defines Britain.
That’s millions, folks, millions.
For Umar Farouk and many other Muslim men like him, living in such a landscape is literally intolerable. He confesses that he does try to lower his gaze in front of females, wonders if he should get married because he is getting too aroused. You could make a movie, a Taxi Driver for our times, about just such an anti-hero, the hormonal male who is expected to live a life of total abstinence in the middle of licentiousness.
Can any one else detect the distinct stench of a rape apologist argument there? He just couldn’t help himself! Only this time women are to blame for attempted mass murder.
Alibhai-Brown argues that the burkha is no solution to this apparent crisis – she will ‘condemn it to the end of her days’ and refuses to accept that women would choose to cover up for any reason other than cultural brainwashing – yet she employs the same language and arguments of impurity often used by its proponents to condemn young women:
The saintly Muslim female has desexualised herself, protects herself in the polluted land she lives in full of mad, bad and dangerous sinners.
Non-Muslims are as concerned about social nihilism, and increasingly so. A list was sent home to the parents of girls at a middle-class school in London last week sternly reminding non-uniformed sixth-formers that there were still rules of decorum to follow. A list followed of garments henceforth disallowed: no tops that show the midriff or cleavage, no tight mini-skirts, no underwear showing, no clothes with holes in them, etc, etc.
Do parents and their teenagers think such wanton wear is OK for school? In an alarmingly short time, the nation has gone from Fifties uprightness to public striptease, even in schools.
When someone’s equating a bared midriff and holey clothes with social nihilism I think we can safely say it’s not the kids with their pants sticking out the top of their jeans that have lost the plot. And weren’t miniskirts all the rage fifty years ago?
The author does voice some valid concerns about the pressures placed on young women to be sexually attractive and available; this comment is spot-on:
The word that comes up all the time is “choice”, but one has to ask what choice is there, really, when a pushy popular culture tells females as young as eight that they are creatures of the flesh which they must tame and give over to the public gaze and touch. To me, that choice is engineered…
However, Alibhai-Brown makes the tired error of using this observation to explain away all young women’s supposedly debauched behaviour as a symptom of their victimhood: having sex with multiple partners, wearing “fuck-me” clothes and binge drinking is all a form of “self-degradation” based on a delusional notion of “emancipation”. Many of us have another word for it: fun. There’s a difference between a 13-year-old trying to win male approval and popularity among her peers by sending naked photos of herself in porn star positions to a boy at school and an adult woman getting pissed and having a damn good time sleeping with a hot stranger on a Friday night.
So here’s the crack: whether you wear a burkha or a bikini, you’re a victim and a man-teaser (pious virgin or slutty temptress, take your pick), and before long those poor dudes are just gonna explode. Thanks for that, Yasmin.