*Editor’s Note: The views in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the entire Cardboard staff*
By: Nick “Tapobu” Rohlf
There’s a picture that frequently roams around Facebook showing Muslim women wearing full burquas. The caption reads as follows: “This is not exotic. This is not beautiful. This is not culture. This is oppression and abuse of women worldwide and we should not tolerate it. PERIOD.” Maybe it’s true. Maybe women who wear burqas are oppressed, or maybe they aren’t. Some would argue that even though women who wear burqas do not feel oppressed, they are and the fact that they feel such things are normal is a sign of their oppression. I cry foul.
Not foul because such understandings are necessarily wrong. Maybe the oppression is happening, maybe it isn’t. I cry foul because the same thing is happening in America, and it’s arguably much worse.
We live in a society where it is socially acceptable to post a giant picture of a woman in underwear on the side of a building but unacceptable to breast-feed in public.
We live in a society where women must at once be modest but available, professional but attractive, a working woman but also a perfect mother, wife, and cook.
We live in a society where men send women pictures of their genitals as a courting method, and women are expected to respond positively at risk of being called a number of negative words.
Speaking of negative words, we live in a society where we have a way to insult women for being anything whatsoever or for being nothing at all. A woman who dresses modestly is a prude. A woman who dresses immodestly is a slut. A woman who’s too meek is a wallflower. A woman who’s too social is a flirt. A woman who’s too kind is “asking for it.” A woman who is too standoffish is a bitch. And a woman who’s fed up with all these labels is, in the words of Rush Limbaugh, a Feminazi. Yes, this is the same Rush Limbaugh who frequently attacks Islamic law.
And you know what the best part is? We don’t even know we’re being oppressed. We do it all in the name of freedom. If you are against companies that put up giant pictures scantily-clad women, you are against freedom of expression. If you are against all the foul language that applies specifically to women, you are against freedom of speech. If you truly believe that women are being mistreated in our free society, you are against America itself. And if you, as a woman, dare to cover yourself up to avoid being objectified, you just might be a Muslim. And Muslims, according to airport security, are most likely terrorists.
Tell me how the women in that picture are more oppressed than your sisters, your daughters, your wives. Tell me how you wish they had the freedom to be ogled by your brothers, your sons, your husbands.