19.11.06

Sweden, Tolerance, and the Dialogue between Cultures


I am personally against veil wearing for Muslim women who live in the West. But I am also against the degradation of the dress code in western society. Little girls dressed like their moms and mothers dressed like their teenage daughters. I am also against an official ban on the veil except in places where all religious signs are forbidden by law.

I contemplate some European countries' recent moves to ban the veil in the name of integration as being as much a provocation as the wearing of the veil is a sign of defiance of western culture from some Muslim women who live in the west.

I contemplate also the recent swedish stamp with two women wearing a veil and one other unveiled women with her child and the accompanying text :
''The pictures in the issue do not show the traditional view of a person’s interaction with pristine nature. Irina Gebuhr has instead chosen to highlight the relationships between the people depicted on the stamps. For example, a group of immigrant women who are talking with one another and looking out over a lake are shown on the picnic motif. At the stamp’s top corner an elk appears, which for many is the very symbol of Swedish nature. It depicts a meeting in nature, but also a dialogue between cultures.
Summer by the Lake are Irina Gebuhr’s first stamps. "I could never have imagined being given such an assignment, but as a person who works with images I have studied many stamps, looking at their colors and designs and wondering about the small format," says Irina. She adds, "There is a great difference between working on a well-defined stamp assignment and having artistic freedom in the studio. In the studio I have more freedom to let indistinct, irrational and mysterious emotions shine through and affect the creative process. Having said that, I cannot deny that some of this natural flow has also spilled over into the motifs for Summer by the Lake."

I can't imagine any other western country taking this courageous initiative. Yes, Tolerance requires courage, courage to let artists speak and positive emotions flow to connect us with others, courage to not delve into prejudice, confrontation and the demonisation of the other.

20 comments:

Behemoth101 said...

Maybe I'm just restating the obvious here, but why oh why is the West, the producer of Britney Spears and Madonna and Beyonce superbowl half-time shows and other fashion catastrophes, SOOO concerned about what Muslim women are wearing?

Makes no sense to me. Fortunately, I think the U.S. has the brilliance as an anti-secularist society to resist these outrageous and bigoted impulses to ban veils.

naj said...

I fully agree.

naj said...

By the way, The Little Miss Sunshine is an interesting depiction of "western degradation of dresscode" and disorientation of the value system!

Behemoth101 said...

Haha Naj, that's one of my favorites. Also, because it features a Proust expert as a main character.

Behemoth101 said...

The Vatican weighs in on Muslim dress.

I am so disgusted right now I could just scream.

naj said...

Behem,
You know what? I think Vatican is very cunning to weigh in on Muslim's dress. Perhaps they are hoping for invokation of a discourse of "right to dress" based on the question that Sophia raised, "if we have the righ to limit Muslim's wear, then we have paved the way for limitting Britney Spere's outfit as well.

This is called killing two birds with one stone!

Somehow I can't help thinking about Foucault's history of sexuality ... perhaps we are entering into a new form of victorianessque bourgeoisie!
To me, to be dressed fully in a veil, and to be almost underssed like Britney speres are the two sides of the exact same coin: Sexuality on display!

Sophia said...

Behemoth,

You know , I am reluctant to discuss what occupies most of my time on this blog. But I can tell you I have studied extensively Thomas Kuhn. I can say that you have to read him as a sociologist and a historian of science but not as a philosopher. As a philosopher I disagree totally with him and his philosophy is based on descriptions, not on a profound analytical inquiry.

BTW, why the question on Kuhn ?

Behemoth101 said...

Your astute skepticism apparent in "Ideas are inventions, like tools." struck me as particularly Kuhn-ian.

I admire the French system of teaching la philosophie to its youth... I had to enroll in the International Baccalaureate programme in order to even get a taste of that in American public schools.

Behemoth101 said...

In the US & A, there was a federal case known as "Griswold v. Connecticut" which established that "privacy" exists constitutionally and invalidates ideas of "taste" and "obscenity."

In fact, the privacy to do anything within constitutional reason is so great, that it "emanates" from several amendments in the bill of rights, as well from the "penumbra" of the 14th...

In other words, according to (infallible) U.S. Supreme Court rulings, it is a civil right to cover up however much you damn well please if you're a citizen, unless you are mandated by a federal warrant to reveal your body.

pierre/candide's notebooks said...

Sophia, can I crosspost this post at the Notebooks?

Sophia said...

Pierre,

Oui. Bien sûr.

Sophia said...

behemoth,

In some European countries, Philosophy is included in first year university whatever the speciality the student is undertaking.

As for 'Ideas are inventions like tools', it really goes against Khun,s thinking. He thought that Science was making technological progress but not Knowledge progress and I think that the two are intertwined, you cannot separate them.

naj said...

But I think technology comes before science.
In fact, in my opinion technology comes before everything.

Behemoth101 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Behemoth101 said...

You have very apt ideas about Kuhn.

What say you about the Griswold v. Connecticut decision? Check out the wiki article on it...

Shaykhspeara Sha'ira said...

Wow you even took it one step further and actually researched the objectives behind the stamp motif :)

We were speculating wether or not the two women in question were wearing the muslim headscarf or simply were depicted in the traditional dress of women in sweden during the 17th and 18th century in the country side.

Shaykhspeara Sha'ira said...

I see you even researched the real reason behind the motif on the stamp :)

We were speculating only, over at Al baal.

Sophia said...

Shaykhspeara,

The docuemnt didn't come out easily from a google search and I had to change the key words three times before finding it, not even on the first page of the google search. I wanted to know what was behind this powerful and emotionally laden image which is at the same time so peaceful...
Thanks again for bringing it out to the attention of some bloggers.

Sophia said...

Behemoth,

I didn't know about the case and I was really surprised that in 1965 a law can be so invasive as to intervene in matters of sexuality and reproduction. I laughed loud. To my knowledge there is no other single place where contraception was made regulated by a law. Religions used to instill guilt in women who use contraceptives and the idea of using contraceptives was not popular or something talked about openly in society at the time. But to make a law of this !
This confirms what I wrote on Pierre's site last week about Soljenytsine saying that in the US laws and lawyers have replaced individual cionsciousnesses. There is nothing to be proud of in the American justice which reached its tasteless apotheose when Bush won the presidency thanks to the supreme court. I am against regulating everything in society by law but I think the American society as a whole is made of individuals who profoundly mistrust each other and so they have to rely on their justice....I could go on but no time... I am really amazed...

And to put it in a nutshell, it is thanks to a woman who wanted to have protected sex that the right to privacy came to exist in American justice. The wiki article says that the interpretation of this decision and the existence of the right to privacy in the constitution is still a controversial matter...

Behemoth101 said...

Actually, the law in question on the books during 1965 was a 19th century law that had to do with publishing obscene materials... it had little to do with what we call "contraception" today, which also had curious origins as a women's right movement to emancipate young girls from patriarchal economic dominance.

It is clever of you to observe that the case's relevancy is still being debated today. However, with growing concerns over internet and healthcare privacy (not to mention whole industries based on these notions), the case has become more and more constitutionally solid in the past decade.

I'm going to post a paper I wrote about the significance of this case.

 
Since March 29th 2006