The academic summer ends

Picture1.jpg

The academic summer is creeping to an end.

Meetings begin. Administrators smirk with an At last you feel our pain expression.

Reviews are overdue: non-paying customers are unhappy.

Syllabi are overdue: time to make unripe readings and assignments decisions that I will regret in October. Fresh desk copies sit untouched.

And the article that was supposed to be my one goal this summer watches me from a corner, like an eternally unhappy spouse, murmuring, “I thought it was going to be different this time.”

 

Untitled

Advertisements

#JePorteMaJupeCommeJeVeux

frenchI awoke to the hashtag  #JePorteMaJupeCommeJeVeux because a 15-year old French Muslim student was sent home for her long black skirt. Apparently her skirt proclaimed her religious affiliation too “loudly.”

The Twittersphere wants to know if Elsa is Muslim and why do Cinderella and Ariel get away with their long skirts, when a Muslim girl infects a long skirt with Muslimness? Since when does feminist empowerment demand controlling female bodies and their clothes?

At the end of the day, France – as in the Charlie Hebdo affair – falls prey to racism. They think we can’t see the silhouette of Islamophobia through their sheer laicite, but everyone else knows the emperor is naked.

Oh, France! we all cry out.

But Americans need not jump to judgement too fast. In Muslim American Women on Campus, I discuss how even non-hijab-wearing U.S. Muslim college women were othered for such attempts at modest clothing as long sleeves and long skirts. See below: 

 


An excerpt from Chapter 4: “You Can’t Really Look Normal and Dress Modestly: Muslim Women and Their Clothes on Campus” follows:  

Religiously observant non-hijabis typically seek a midpoint between normal American and Muslim dress: this usually involves wearing no hijab; modest necklines, long sleeves, and long pants to cover skin; and clothes of a loose fit to cover one’s bodily contours. Stylish layers such as jackets were in common usage to cover the chest and buttocks, but also to counteract the single baggy layer appearance. Hijab certainly is not the measure of modesty or dowdiness. As the trends of “hijab chic” and “sexy hijab” have grown in popularity, I have observed, on the one hand, hijabis wearing daringly skin-tight jeans and shirts, even low-cut necklines, coupled with minimalist headscarves, and non-hijabis, on the other hand, wearing loose clothes and bulky hoodies.

But even non-hijabis who wore modest “American” dress could not escape othering. It was no surprise that for Heather, a recent convert, “the biggest thing”—the greatest challenge—was her Muslim wardrobe.

Heather: Because you can’t really look normal and dress modestly. . . . You can pull it off to some degree. But you’ll never—[trails off]. . . . There are definite barriers between being religious and being normal in society. And you can make up to a certain degree with personality or knowledge of popular culture—or being interested in having a fun time that’s not necessarily haraam or something, but—[trails off].

[…]

On a summer day, Heather stood among her peers in their short skirts and lacy tank tops. In a woven long-sleeved shirt and an ankle-length Gap denim skirt, Heather’s skin was conspicuous by its absence.

[…]

Heather tried to prevent such encounters by strategically planning outfits, though she remained dissatisfied with the partial conformity that resulted.

peasantHeather: And so, definitely this summer I’m a lot more inclined to wear, like, light-looking things or things that might fit in a little more—like, skirts that don’t look like they’re hot, or pants that just look like khakis. Because you can sort of get away with wearing khakis in the summer and nobody’s going to ask you “Are you hot?” for the most part. Because at least you’re like–you know, it’s a legitimate thing to wear. The problem is when people wear long skirts or long pants they normally wear, like, a tank top on top.

Heather could “get away with” khakis and long skirts but when not paired with tank tops, this alternative to skin-baring summer fashion marked her as hot, weird, and oppressed. With her modest attire, Heather would never be perfectly normal or free from the pressure to defend her clothing choices.

Montgomery County’s strategic plan to vanish Christmas, Yom Kippur, AND Muslims

Shocking news in the land of the free. In order to avoid giving students Eid-al-Adha off, Montgomery County struck Christmas, Easter, Yom Kippur, and Rosh Hashanah from the calendar. Now school will still be closed and students can observe their holidays, but the NAMES of the holidays won’t be there.

In other words, dominant religions now become invisible: yet in their invisibility, they remain dominant and invulnerable and leak into the lives of all. By making them vanish, Montgomery County schools deprive Muslims and others of the argument for equal treatment. Montgomery County: I would have expected better. 

“Board member Michael A. Durso (District 5) was the sole vote against the calendar change. During the board’s discussion, he noted that Montgomery brags about its diversity and its embrace of different cultures.”

Yes, clearly. “Embrace” should mean “containment”.

“Zainab Chaudry, also a co-chair of the coalition, expressed dismay, too, contending the school board’s members were willing to “go so far as to paint themselves as the Grinch who stole Christmas” to avoid granting equal treatment for the Muslim holiday.

“They would remove the Christian holidays and they would remove the Jewish holidays from the calendar before they would consider adding the Muslim holiday to the calendar,” she said.”

Bonus for the haters: the internet is now aflame with Islamophobes who are blaming Muslims for taking away Christmas. Two birds with one stone. Well played, Montgomery County. Why don’t you just throw all the Muslim kids out on the street?