Posts Tagged “burqa”

Today's issue of the Swedish daily Metro shows images from Swedish and Saudi Arabian IKEA catalogs for next year in which women have been deleted from identical photos. (Photo: Henrik Montgomery, AP, via USA Today)Pity the poor Saudis. The homeland of the prophet Mohammad is populated by (mostly Wahhabist) Muslims who — for some reason that my all-too-rational-mind will never comprehend — can’t handle the fact that women exist. In order to avoid knowing they’re around, they force them to shroud themselves in burqas, and limit their ability to get around (such as preventing them from driving, leaving home without a male, etc.). The desire never to see a woman … ever … leads to all sorts of ridiculous outcomes. One of these, as the Wall Street Journal reports, is the intentional removal of women from photos used in the IKEA catalog there (WebCite cached article):

Representatives for Swedish furniture giant IKEA on Monday said the company regrets removing women from some of the photos in catalogs shipped to Saudi Arabia. The move sparked criticism from government officials in Sweden and raised questions about whether some IKEA franchises can violate values that most company stores abide by. …

A comparison of the Saudi catalog to a standard version of the catalog showed that several women photographed in the standard version are missing from pages of the Saudi version. Otherwise, the photos throughout the catalog appear to be virtually identical.

The discrepancy was first reported by Metro, a free newspaper in Stockholm. A spokeswoman for the IKEA Group—which handles the catalog for the furniture company—said the move is in conflict with company values and IKEA is reviewing its procedures as a result.

Here’s a sample of the difference between the original artwork and its Saudi rendition:

A woman photographed in the standard version of the IKEA catalog, left, is missing from pages of the Saudi version, right / IKEA, via the Wall Street Journal.

A woman photographed in the standard version of the IKEA catalog, left, is missing from pages of the Saudi version, right / IKEA, via the Wall Street Journal.

IKEA’s corporate response was — as one might expect — to express some regrets:

“As a producer of the catalog, we regret the current situation,” Ylva Magnusson, spokeswoman for IKEA Group, which runs 298 of 337 IKEA stores world-wide, said. “We should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalog is in conflict with the IKEA Group values.”

This response clearly implies they were taken by surprise. And perhaps they were. But while IKEA Group has stated that IKEA stores in Saudi Arabia are run by a franchise, not directly by them, they did produce the catalog for the franchisee … so they really ought not be acting as though they’re caught up in something that’s out of their control. They had control of it … full control. They produced the catalog. They could have refused to cave into rigid Saudi misogyny … but they chose not to.

I can’t help but be reminded that the very same thing having happened in conservative Jewish newspapers from time to time. The idea that God doesn’t want women ever to be seen is not, therefore, a particular problem for Saudis, for Wahhabism, or even Islam. Other religions also seem to have a beef with the fact that women exist. I really don’t get why … I guess it must go over the head of this cynical, godless agnostic heathen. Even so, forcing some one-half of one’s own society to neither be seen nor heard, sure sounds like a fucking ridiculous idea to me. And the fact that someone at IKEA, in a very modern and civilized country like Sweden, would want to go along with this religionistic absurdity, is nearly as incomprehensible and ridiculous.

Photo credit, top: Henrik Montgomery / AP, via USA Today; middle: IKEA, via the Wall Street Journal.

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Welcome to Bristol, Virginia/TennesseeIn a development which — unfortunately — I don’t find surprising in the least, religious leaflets being distributed in Virginia are blaming the victims of rape for the crimes committed against them. The Bristol (VA) Herald Courier reports on this (WebCite cached article):

Nineteen-year-old Keshia Canter handed three burgers, fries and milkshakes to a car-load of Tuesday afternoon customers at the Hi-Lo Burger’s drive-though window. A lady sitting in the backseat leaned forward, between the two men in front, and handed her a leaflet: “Women & Girls” it said across the top.

“Even though nothing is showing, you’re being ungodly,” Canter recalled the woman telling her. “You make men want to be sinful.” …

Minutes later, Canter’s mother, Pam Yates, who owns the restaurant, returned from the bank. Canter handed her “Women & Girls” and Yates started reading.

“You may have been given this leaflet because of the way you are dressed,” it begins. “Have you thought about standing before the true and living God to be judged?”

It continues with one essential theme: The sins of men are, in part, the fault of women, specifically women in tight-fitting clothing. Yates was annoyed. Then she got to a section on page two:

“Scripture tells us that when a man looks on a woman to lust for her he has already committed adultery in his heart. If you are dressed in a way that tempts a men to do this secret (or not so secret) sin, you are a participant in the sin,” the leaflet states. “By the way, some rape victims would not have been raped if they had dressed properly. So can we really say they were innocent victims?”

The hand-out is signed “anonymous.”

In the eyes of religionists like this, crimes like rape are not the result of sociopathic thinking or criminal behavior. They are, instead, compulsions forced on unwitting men by their wily and wicked victims — sort of like invisible puppet-strings. Blaming the victim for crimes is not new, and it’s not even always religiously-motivated … but when it’s rationalized by religion, that tends to prevent people from seeing how invalid this sort of thinking is.

Note also how eerily similar this is to the mindset behind the Catholic Church’s approach to handling the abuse of children by its clergy, as I blogged previously: “It’s the kids’ fault … they — and the Devil within them — made me do it!”

Taken to its extreme, this kind of thinking leads to customs such as compelling women to shroud themselves entirely in a burqa, or even preventing them from going out in public at all, as was common in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. This robs women of any sense of identity or individuality and reduces them to the level of mere property.

Hat tip: iReligion Forum at Delphi Forums.

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