Tuesday, July 14, 2009

American Apparel, the veil, and as always, the NYT

by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux

Here's a little round-up of the news articles I've found interesting in the past week or so - just in case you haven't been keeping up!

I do love some schadenfreude - especially when it involves American Apparel and its CEO, Dov Charney. Jezebel has a great post about how AA is hanging on in the recession - but just barely. I would not mind at all if Charney, "the CEO so skeevy he should be an R. Crumb character" became a victim of the economic downturn - and before you start calling me a meanie, just take a look at the delightful unisex bow tie ("unisex" in the sense that men wear it with a shirt, and women don't) made from factory fragments (only the best quality for American Apparel!) that AA thinks is worth $19 of your hard-earned cash. Recession, please do even the smallest bit of good and put this creep out of business!

There was a fantastic analysis of the debate over the burqa in France on the Huff Post, a debate which became more complicated in Germany last week when a woman was stabbed to death in a courtroom by a man who had verbally harassed her for wearing the veil in public. The author, Kamran Pasha, correctly points out that the debate in France is really more about politics and national identity than it is about women's rights, but also brings up many of the nuances in the veil debate, raising the excellent point that for some women, veiling is an empowering act, a "fuck you" to swimsuit competitions, plastic surgery and all other cultural pressures that drive women to eating disorders and hatred of their bodies. Pasha writes, "If some women are required by the state to dress in a fashion they find too revealing, even demeaning, there will only be a calcification of rebellion, a hardening of resistance to social control."

Meanwhile, anyone who is concerned about racism, sexism, or frankly, murder, will be horrified by the story of Marwa el-Sherbini, the woman who was killed in a German courtroom in front of her 3-year-old son. Her husband, who rushed forward to try to save her, was shot by a police officer - he's now in a hospital in Dresden. El-Sherbini has swiftly become a martyr, a symbol of the racism against immigrants that flares daily in Europe. But I'm also a little disturbed by the reaction of the protesters at her funeral in Alexandria, who carried signs that said things like "Germans are the enemy of God." That, surely, helps no one and disrespects the dead.

The NYT had a couple of articles about ageing, one breaking the incredibly tired myth of love-starved widows. Many widows, the article says, are - shockingly, I know - actually excited to be liberated from their roles as wives and homemakers, and aren't looking for a new man to cook for. I don't whether I'm happy or irritated that this is number 4 on the most-emailed list - are people really surprised that some women would rather have a strong network of friends than remarry, after decades of marriage? In another article, Jane Gross describes a group of nuns who practice dying gracefully.

File this under totally fucking absurd - women in the Sudan were sentenced to 40 lashes for wearing pants in public. Apparently under Sharia law, this is "indecent" dress. I wonder what would happen if you tried to wear the "unisex bow tie" in Khartoum.

The FDA just approved single-dose Plan B. This is good news, although I've discovered something rather disturbing about use of emergency contraceptives here in Vietnam while conducting interviews for my final paper - unmarried women don't like to go on the pill, so when the condom breaks or their boyfriend has decided he doesn't want to use one (also seems disturbingly common), they just take EC. Never mind that this isn't as effective (note the "emergency" part of EC), all oral contraceptives carry the danger of being fakes, because you really can't trust half the pills you buy in Vietnam. Combine that with a general lack of sex education, and Vietnam's astronomical abortion rate isn't so surprising.


At July 17, 2009 at 4:26 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

Finally, for once, the man who was shot trying to protect his wife doesn't get the spotlight. Female victimhood is more important than male chivalry, no matter what the Patriarchy would have us believe.


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