Saturday, July 23, 2005

What is immodest about a baby?

an insensitive rambling observation

covered in black
from forehead to nose.

at the grocery store,
a woman rolls her trolley to the till.

waits for her husband to pay the bill.
flapping little dark bird squawks for crisps.

she is maybe seven or six.
an infant's eyes peer out

from behind her veil
perched in her baby seat

silent and still.
Kate Bush's voice

in my head so shrill
singing the pedophile's longing.

what is this infant kiss
that sends my body tingling?

a morbid, shaking thrill.
2 boys hung in Iran.

I am told this boy-man love
is abundant in Arabic countries

until age brings
udders, vulvas sewn

just right tight.
Just for You

a children's book
I read daily to my baby

becomes ominous as the sweet
Turkish men fondling my boy's

hair in the
off - license.

all babies safe

in hijab.  

NOTE: As an American, unfamiliar with the the diverse nuances of living in THE WORLD. I have been flipped out from jump, by the small girls I witness everyday in full hijab. Infant girl's peering out from black slits covering their noses. How are they breathing? I ask myself, well, somehow, or their would be some sort of charity campaign to keep infants out of hijab...right? I answer myself.

These baby women already covered and concealed - as if their infant kiss is so potent to drive men wild. But, we read about it in the papers all the time.  Don't we?  It is never the man's fault.  It is the babies who need to cover their lascivious selves.  

So - I wrote earlier in a post titled Islington Sunday that I saw a girl - covered from head to toe
swimming in the sand pit - as if she would take the whole world in
through her fingertips - the only exposed part of her.  

No one commented on it. I was hoping someone would tell me why we have to keep these babies covered up. Is it because they'll grow up like those boys in Iran? They'll like it...what they are getting from older persons...and then develop some bizarre highly normal sense of adolescent autonomy?

It hasn't passed my system yet. I want to accept these choices. I don't know how.


Jax said...

I'll comment, but I have no explanation. I watched a programme late last night on teachers tv about the hijab, because I find it very difficult to understand. In this programme, in one country (Iran?) girls of nine were taking the hijab, and the reporter went to a mullah(?) to ask about a variety of things, and included a question about this. He said that they should start wearing it at puberty, which is 13, and that at 9 they are still children.

I have heard from women saying that it is empowering, but that still seems to me to be an excuse, as there is no instruction (according to the programme last night)in the Koran to wear them. Basically it makes life easier as it removes an easy reason for men to complain or do unwise things.

Seems to me that it is once again women covering up men's problems.

I do not want to accept that choice.

Christina Springer said...

Thanks Jax - I've been reading a lot about hijab on the internet. Like your program, every source I've found says that girls cover themselves at puberty. I can understand this because it marks a transition to womanhood. In essence, they have become "adults" - and this connotes choice. But - none of the sources discuss covering infants, toddlers and small girls. And this I do see - frequently.

Jax said...

I have never seen this, but then again, I don't very often see women wearing hijab at all. Sounds most odd.

Christina Springer said...

I live in Hackney like the rest of England's total 3% population of color. We're all here - in all the varying shades and shapes of diversity...barely-a-year-old infants with veils over their faces...and my longing-for-rhinestone-slippers boy.

Jax said...

Um, there's actually quite a sizable ethnic (is this term acceptable? Serious question) minority in Sheffield, just up the road from me, where I used to work, but not very many seem to wear hijab. Don't think you are all in Hackney by any stretch of the imagination.

Forgive me for this possible intrusion, but you seem a little cross this evening? Onlist at least. Anything up?

Karen James said...

I think of many of the fliers or catalogs that have
been targeted in the direction of our house
advertising kids' clothes using pictures of children
4, 6, 10 years of age dressed, to me, like 16, 18, 20
year olds--often their clothes, hairstyles and body
language suggesting something provocative, if not,
sexy. People originally from Middle Eastern countries
that have lived in or still practice extreme
fundamentalism must question our mass representation
of children in ways that seem exploitive, if not
unhealthy. It seems to me that in each society the
portraits of the individual are guarded and displayed
because it serves the systems in which we each live
whether that be capatilist or religious. We barely
question these portraits because they seem to provide
us with an illusion of what we want to believe. We
question the beliefs and practices of our neighbour
because they challenge that illusion. I think that
what we all need to do, what many of us seem to be
trying to do, is to continue to challenge ourselves
and our choices and in that example dare others to do
the same.

Christina Springer said...

Karen -

how do you just seem to know when I am in desperate need of sitting in your living room and having a cup of coffee with you?

I think you are soooo right. And it is terrifying and bold to ask questions so that we can get to that place of being peaceful with everyone's choices. Where we challange ourselves to step out of our comfort zones and into someone else's way-of-being. From that place, we cause change to happen.

You nailed it - zing - one tap.

Jax said...

More thoughts - mainly as I didn't understand what Karen was saying.

Drove through some back streets of Sheffield the other day, and saw a family in hijab - mum, another adult, couple of children, toddler.

And isn't this just another cultures way of allowing their children to dress like adults? So in the more westernised culture we get little girls with make up and sexualised appearance, and within the more religiously fundamental culture, we get little girls in veils.

Neither made the choice for themselves.

Karen James said...

Choice is often made within the context of the collective conscious and is therefore limited to that reality. Once witness to a choice that is outside our collective experiences our sense of self is challenged. So, I guess what I was saying was that the closer we look at ourselves the better we understand others. Until we all begin to do this, we will all remain a mystery to each other and, perhaps, more significantly, we will be a mystery to ourselves.