I have some reservations about the custom of head covering or veiling. It can be seen as being about modesty--but in some respects I see the argument that it can be about enforcing conformity and erasing certain aspects of individuality in women in order to "disappear" them. There's this amazing picture of former First Lady Laura Bush amid such similarly-dressed women:
That she stands out as impossibly chic and individual. This isn't to minimize the women on the panel with her--just to note that culturally, her face, freedom of movement, and ability to be relaxed and herself seem so much more apparent here. And while these women might enjoy an outstanding inner life, I can't help but wonder if their accomplishments disappear, like their faces, simply because they aren't seen.
This is something I've noticed recently--culturally, some people will go rather out of their way to avoid seeing women (in this case, Angela Merkel, in a previous case, Hillary Clinton). Is this to avoid also coming into collision with our ability to achieve, think, feel, and react to the world around us?
This minimization of the appearance of women seems like a foreign thing--it isn't entirely. There have been US congressional panels on subjects pertaining to women--such as about birth control--that have involved no women at all.
And when we are noticed physically--sometimes the result is reductionist, sexist, absurd--take this obit in The Australian of the fine novelist Colleen McCullough, whose Masters of Rome series enthralled me and awakened a love of history in me and a passion for understanding history as a story about people. (Do look into this series if you haven't--so well-researched and well-done!) Is it not grotesque to reduce a person to whether she was physically attractive (an opinion!) or not? Would this even be imaginable for a male author?
This is why I cheered Megyn Kelly of FOX News for being visible against sad prude 2016 presidential contender Mike Huckabee, who made the dumb comment that he thought women in New York (and not Iowa, mind you) were trashy for cursing. She pointed out:
"Well I do have news for you before I let you go. We are not only swearing. We're drinking, we're smoking, we're having premarital sex with birth control before we go to work—and sometimes boss around a bunch of men!"
Um, exactly. We're people. We do stuff. We live. And being judged just for being, or having someone pretend "well these women are nice and these other women are trashy", or being treated as if our piety, dress, jobs, attractiveness, or other criteria, determine our worth as people, is just nonsense. Women are people. Like, newsflash. We have faces and wear the clothes we want and say what we want and even can run countries. It's no big. Not sure why it is seen otherwise.