What does it feel like to wear a burka?

Erik Bleich is Professor of Political Science and Director of International Politics and Economics at Middlebury College and is the author of The Freedom to Be Racist ? How the United States and Europe Struggle to Preserve Freedom and Combat Racism, published by Oxford University Press. When I invited artist Marie Rim to Middlebury College, I didn ’ triiodothyronine know what to expect. Her project “ Burka Fittings Across America ” asks randomly selected people to try on a burqa for a few minutes and to look at themselves in a full-length mirror. Her artistic goal is to explore “ otherness, shape and empathy, a well as the meanings Americans associate with the burqa ” .
Some people are outraged that she is appropriating the burqa for her own purposes. Others worry that it will reinforce Islamophobia. If you are affirmative, like Rim, you hope it will undermine people ’ s preconceived notions and generate greater cross-cultural reason. This is not your grandfather ’ randomness art project, blandly hanging on a drift or museum wall .
Marie Rim grew up on the East Coast and is a painter by training. While based in Los Angeles, she began to work with wedding dresses, redirecting her artwork in a haptic and synergistic steering. She invited passersby to don garments she had made from second-hand marry dresses and to examine themselves in the mirror. It was playful and good-natured. Everybody walked off happy.

then she switched to the burqa. When she tried it on for the first time, her reflection overwhelmed her. It concealed therefore much of her torso that about all outward markers disappeared. She realised how much touch visibly gay had affected her at a profound level. Of course, she was hardly planning to wear the burqa full time, nor was she particularly attuned to the cultural and religious significance of the burqa in these early experiments. For Marie, the burqa just helped her clasp her personal experience of “ otherness ” .
By her own admission, Marie was naïve in what she did adjacent. She took her read on the road – literally – by asking people on the street if they would like to experience wearing a burqa and looking at themselves in the mirror. She has done this in 18 states indeed far, and has plans to carry out the project in all 50 states .
Mixed emotions and reactions

I invited Marie to Middlebury College as a guest artist for my seminar on “ ‘ The Muslim ’ : Politics and Perceptions in the West ”. She presented a short-circuit television and pictures of her artistic subjects with quotations from their experiences. She conducted burqa fittings in front of the college dining hall and then spoke with my students for an hour .
Seeing the reactions to her project from people on and off campus was eye-opening. If Marie was naïve when launching her project, I was naïve in my own way. Although I study Islamophobia, I had guessed that most people would find wearing a burqa demystify. Others on campus – some of whom expressed deep doubts about inviting Marie in the first place – probably assumed just the opposite .
The reality was much more complicate. Reactions among burka-wearers were far from consistent. Most people kept it on for barely a infinitesimal or two, and all of them looked at themselves in a full-length mirror only after the black gown, font covering ( with two roughly inch-high by three-inch wide eye openings ), and scarf were completely on. Women and men participated, as did Muslims and non-Muslims. All together more than a twelve people tried it on .

“… it [the burka] is also a mirror, seemingly reflecting back to the participant whatever assumptions he or she brought to the experience in the first place.”

The majority had herculean and negative reactions. One simply said, “ get it off ”. Another said she felt like a freak. Others felt they had lost their identity or their ability to express themselves through something vitamin a natural as a smile. They felt claustrophobic or trapped, chilling like a Sith Lord, or “ freaked out ”, as if in a shroud. A few had enormous difficulty articulating any chemical reaction, fall upon speechless. One commented that she felt good-for-nothing for women who had to wear the burqa all the time .
A goodly minority, on the early hand, did not have these reactions at all. One participant said she felt protected and safe, and another mentioned that she had worn a garment that covered much of her body while in Morocco and that she appreciated the anonymity it provided her as a western woman.

One of my students who tried it on said she felt cryptic and powerful, like a ninja. Unlike others, she did not take off the burqa right away, but preferably walked into the dining hall to gauge the reaction of her fellow students. Heads turned. She approached friends one by one, most of whom did not recognise her, though one womanhood from Afghanistan addressed her by name, apparently adept at seeing through the fabric. Reactions ranged deoxyadenosine monophosphate widely as those who tried it on, from friends who found her frightening to those who proclaimed her “ cute ” .
There were besides a wide image of responses by burka-wearers that were nowhere near as freighted. many people commented on the restricted sight-lines, the greater difficulty of making oneself hear, the light-weight fabric, the black uniformity ( wondering if there were different colours available ), or the fact that it felt like putting on a costume preferably than a cultural symbol. One said he felt like an Orthodox priest .
Among the observers and the passersby, a few people were clearly intrigued and some were put-off. Almost cipher walked by without noticing. Throughout this march, for both the participants and the observers, I did my best to add context and background about the burqa. I am a political scientist who studies race and heathen politics, not a scholar of Islam, nor a specialist in burqa or cultures where they are habitually wear .
Perceptions of the burka

My goal was to let the art project unfold in a way that lets participants be true to their emotions and reactions, while besides trying to explain what I knew about burqa tire. Some women were forced to wear them, yes, but some women besides chose to wear them. They were a much a cultural marker as a religious one. It was potential to identify the individual wearer and her consistency linguistic process with practice – in other words, communication was possible even though there was a burqa in the mix .
This mediation between the individual experience and the larger sociable, political and cultural context turned out to be essential. My students grilled Marie on how she was building this in to her project. They wanted to be certain that her motives were good ones. Unless those were true, and unless she provided information for her subjects, they feared the project risked being hurtful to Muslims and harmful to non-Muslim perceptions of the burqa .
I couldn ’ metric ton agree more. The burqa is like a prism that refracts reactions into more shades and tones than I had imagined. At the lapp time, it is besides a mirror, apparently reflecting back to the participant whatever assumptions he or she brought to the experience in the first place .
happily, Marie was able to communicate her desire to proceed adenine sensitively as possible. She besides fully recognised the necessitate to partner with scholars and knowledgeable individuals who can provide data and context for participants. After all the feedback she has received, Marie is thinking through her future steps .
rather of simply displaying her project in a ceremonious art environment, she is considering developing a web site with a blog part where her burka-wearers, critics and everyone can weigh in on the undertaking.

No matter what your reaction to “ Burka Fittings Across America ”, the project undeniably creates friction. It is potentially incendiary. But if handled in the correct way, it besides has the likely to produce at least as much unaccented as heating system .
Erik Bleich is professor of Political Science and Director of International Politics and Economics at Middlebury College and is the author of The Freedom to Be Racist? How the United States and Europe Struggle to Preserve Freedom and Combat Racism, published by Oxford University Press.
Follow him on Twitter: @ErikBleich1

source : https://kembeo.com
Category : Fashion

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