Friday Thoughts…Blondes.. Muslim Women With Hijabs and Jewish Orthodox Women.
I am writing this up while sitting at the train station lobby waiting for my train. Sitting across from this blonde. She is clad in ankle high leather shoes, tight fitting blue jeans with a full sleeved floral top. Legs crossed she has sort of a vacuous far away look. Is that a blonde thing?
She of course has perfect features, straight hair falling across shoulders along her long neck and large eyes as she cranes to look towards the train arrival info. She has lovely eyes too. And no I am not gawking. I am typing away and I have to look slightly above the top of the laptop to see her. You look yet you don't look.
I can see the slightest smile as she watches a baby crying and being bottle fed. Oh waiit she actually smiled.. a perfect smile and teeth. She has a chain around her neck with a pendant around it. Err.. ring finger is occupied, rust colored nailpolish goes well with the top. She has her shades in her ring hand playing with them as she now talks to the baby’s mom. She has one of those garment bags... the color matches the floral prints on her long sleeved top. She has a clear unblemished complexion. She must be in her late 30s early 40s, takes good care of herself. Nice top I noticed the neck just low enough to hint at the swell of her breasts. Hey..I am a guy I have a built in radar for this stuff.
She has a strangely hideous (to me and am no connoisseur) golden jacket with patterns on a red background. Did our eyes meet? Yes, but it’s the kind that happens when your gaze sweeps across an area. She reminds me of someone and I can't quite place her. She just left for her train, that’s one heavy bag. I could tell she had trouble carrying it, her gait altered by the load on her right side.. to be probably never seen again. *sigh*
I love observing people, the way they dress, carry themselves, their body language, what they read, what they carry. Something I do when I am too tired or spaced out and don’t want to read. It’s just my mind working on a different plane and in a strange way the banal happenings at a train station waiting area can be soothing. I wrote the above without edits except for spell checks. Maybe her initial look was one that a lot of us wear when we are in public spaces alone? She did have a charming smile, but watching a baby would do that to a lot us no?
On the train now. ...
Also saw this woman, probably a woman of the Muslim faith, she was wearing one of those things that they wear that covers their head and hair. This one rested on her shoulders. She had a full sleeved shirt on and a skirt that went right to her ankles. I had a flash of thoughts that a lot of us have when we might see some one following a dress code dictated by religion.
But is also brought to my mind something that I heard on NPR on Thursday, when viewers wrote in their responses to NPR programs. I remember this one, it was from a Muslim woman who wears something similar, she is an American. I recall Robert Siegel say in his lovely voice “This gentleman walked up to her and said.. You are in America now, you are free, you don’t have to wear that!”.
As I walked down the stairs I thought about it, and what came to my mind was the two orthodox Jewish women that I work with. They wear a wig (they are married), are dressed in long skirts and full sleeved shirts/tops. They are very observant and conservative. They are great to work with and nice folks. Some info about Jewish customs here.
I was wondering if anyone would ever walk up to them and say that they were in America and did not need to dress that way, they could choose to do what they wanted?
I am guessing not. Do you see the juxtaposition of these two?
They may not be perfect test cases, but are nonetheless interesting. One is perceived as being oppressed and under the hegemony of conservative religion, while the other is not. But you could make the same argument for the Jewish women too right? It’s just a matter of perception or maybe of how some of us given the terrible state of our media see only stereotypes. Perhaps the gentleman who talked to the Muslim woman who wrote to NPR was well meaning, but shouldn’t he have considered at least the possibility that how the woman dresses was a matter of choice and nothing to do with oppression? And not all Muslim women dress that way either.
I asked myself this questions as well. Personally I would rather not have religion dictate how women should dress or behave and that applies to the women I referred to here. I also think most religions treat men and women with different standards which smacks of hypocrisy. But I also want to see it thru the frame of history, culture, tradition. The America I believe in and grew up knowing, is about tolerance, respect and freedom of religion and also freedom from it. I know we seem to be moving away from it under this administration and I hope for our sake and the world’s it changes for the better.
Part of being able to deal successfully with the world around us or understand it better comes from being able to have an open mind and to ask questions, not just of those around us but also of ourselves. There may not always be answers or absolutes but then it is not always about answers, maybe it is just about understanding the world and each other a little better.
I segued from a blonde to a hijab clad woman and Jewish women and customs. Oy!
Enjoy your weekend folks.. later…