Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Citibank Mullahs

Iran's mullahs are cracking down on women's clothes again. They've been arresting women for wearing their veils wrong, having too short a skirt, being too tan, or really whatever goes against their own form of "modesty." What's striking to me is their reason for doing so (besides the mistaken* notion that such dress is non-Islamic):
Iranian women are obliged by law to cover their hair and wear long coats in public. The Islamic veil protects the purity of women, preventing men from viewing them as sex symbols, clerics here say.
So the Iranian government purportedly believes that Iranian men are so horrible that even seeing a woman's hair will drive them mad with sexual desire. How odd.

Well, I'm glad we enlightened Westerners don't think the same way...
Debrahlee Lorenzana is filing a lawsuit against Citibank because they fired her, she says, for the strangest reason: she's too hot.

Her bosses told her that "as a result of the shape of her figure, such clothes were purportedly 'too distracting' for her male colleagues and supervisors to bear," she says.

Let's step back and appreciate the symmetry here. Both Iran and Citibank are enforcing their modesty codes by telling women that they have to dress modestly because men can't control their own urges. The Citibank employee's lawyer summarizes:
"It's like saying that we can't think anymore 'cause our penises are standing up—and we cannot think about you except in a sexual manner—and we can't look at you without wanting to have sexual intercourse with you. And it's up to you, gorgeous woman, to lessen your appeal so that we can focus!"
Notice how women never suffer from this supposed lack of control, even though in a corporate environment they may be surrounded by attractive men in well-tailored suits.

The logic is so backwards it barely warrants a rebuttal. If I (a straight dude) am an employee, it's my responsibility to get my job done, whether the person sitting next to me is a middle-aged balding guy or Keri Russell wearing a string bikini. If I don't get my job done it's my responsibility, not Keri Russell's for being so damn hot.

You want more? Rape apologists use the same damn excuses, saying that some women are raped because of the way they're dressed. I don't know, but I've never been to a beach where there are a lot of scantily clad women and felt the urge to just go around raping people. I might be wrong though.

Look, the "men can't control themselves" line may seem like a dig at men, but it's really an excuse to control women's actions and force them to meet with powerful men's expectations. So can we put this myth to bed already? Most people - men and women - enjoy provoking sexual desire, myself included. (Not that I'm any good at it. That reminds me, I need a haircut. And a new suit.) If we're overtaken by that desire, it's our fault, not the hottie's.

*I say "mistaken" because the dress code honored by most Muslims appears nowhere in the Qu'ran. The Qu'ran merely asks women to dress modestly and cover their breasts. The hijab and burqa are mentioned nowhere.


irainesan said...

he firing of Lorenzana by the citibank shows the double standard of the West. This has been the crux of arguments by the religious minorities living in the west. Now the truth comes out in the case of Lorenza. Why not allow her to show off her revealing bosom if she wanted to. why restrict her on dresses. Why not she be provocative.

A Muslim woman who wants to cover more will ask similar questions. Why not I cover as much as I wish to. why can not I be less provocative and less sexy? If the western countries are true to what they say about the fundamental rights, why interfere with the fundamental rights of Lorenza.In the same breathe why interfere with the fundamental rights of the Muslim women. It is sheer hypocrisy, bias, pretentious culture and open double standard. Even in the liberal West, it is an offence for women to go half naked. There are restrictions on dress even in Europe, is the contention of Muslims. The difference is only in degree when it comes to modesty.

Absolute freedom is non-existent in any culture. Being social animals, men and women have animal magnetism and sex appeal. One can never deny the fact that when a young man looking at a woman revealing a major part of her firm, round, shapely and bulging breasts gets sexually excited and would have train of quite often lewd thoughts in his mind. Hence religious laws on dress code. The West judges one set of rules as barbaric simply because OF ALIEN CULTURE BASE and another set as liberation

There does not seem to be much of difference between Iranian Mullahs and Citibank Mullahs, both are based on fundamentalism, one the religious and the other liberalism

Jeff said...

Irainesan, You are right to say that Citibank execs and Iranian goons are different only in degree, but they are both horribly misguided. I think your key error is that you confuse the society in which I currently live with the ideal society to Western liberals. In such an ideal society, personal freedom is nearly absolute - modesty laws certainly would not exist in any form. Enforcing one group of peoples' view of "modesty" upon others is anathema to anyone that values personal freedom and responsibility. As such, Citibank's actions are completely opposite to the way in which a liberal society ought to conduct itself.

In defending such religious laws, though, you're basically rehashing the same tired old excuses that I'm arguing against here. Yes, we all have sexual urges, but how we react to them is our choice. We can choose to ignore them in a professional setting and act on them constructively in a casual setting. We have control over our urges - they do not control us. It is not up to others to save us from having to confront our nature. Placing the burden of controlling male sexual urges on women is unfair and morally bankrupt, IMHO.