In Dubai last week to open a milkshake franchise, promote her signature fragrance, and pursue other opportunities to expand her business empire, uber-celebrity Kim Kardashian and mother Kris Jenner stopped by the Dubai Mall to shop for the latest Middle Eastern fashions – including matching burqas.
“That’s me!” Kardashian later squealed on Twitter beneath a photo of herself with her famous face completely obscured except for a slit for the eyes (this is actually a niqab, , which covers everything; a burqa is becoming the popular catchall word to describe the covering in general). Considering that Kardashian’s fame is entirely the result of the relentless marketing of her curvy sexuality, beginning with a sex tape, a burqa – the purpose of which is to obliterate female sexuality and to reduce a woman’s identity to a rumpled, repellent blob – is a curious fashion choice.
And a disappointing one. One of the most famous women in the world and a style icon for countless millions of fans, Kim Kardashian may have just given the burqa her considerably influential fashion imprimatur.
It’s easy to pick on celebrities like Kardashian. Reveling in the narcissistic bubble of her inexplicable fame, far removed from the harsh realities of countless Muslim women literally enshrouded in this enforced anonymity, she is, in all fairness, no doubt simply ignorant of the cultural ramifications of her flippant shopping selection.
What’s really disturbing here is that the media treated the whole incident so breezily. “Kim Kardashian’s latest fashion statement? A burqa!” was the typical headline. “Kim Kardashian Rocks a Burqa in Dubai,” read another. A third: “Kim Kardashian can even make a burqa look hot.” Ad nauseum.
Not a single news item about this paparazzi moment referenced the impropriety of these two wealthy Western women donning garments that have been designed to enslave women and punish them for the uncontrollable lust they inspire in men by a hint of skin or a glimpse of lips. Every media report I saw opted for innocuous phrasing like describing the burqa as “traditional” for Muslim women. BET went with the even more blandly neutral “regional dress.” The UK’s DailyMail got slightly more specific by pointing out that it is “the conservative dress preferred in the religious country.” US Weekly edged slightly closer to the truth by giving the burqa the understated label, “often controversial.”
None of the mainstream media reports dared to storm the ramparts of multiculturalism or to provoke shrill accusations of the dreaded and mythical Islamophobia by pointing out why it’s controversial. None of the media outlets broached the ugly subject of the misogyny that underlies this “regional dress,” much less mentioned that women have been killed for not wearing the “traditional” garb that Kim Kardashian and her mom had so much fun modeling.
What, apart from oppressed women, underlies the wearing of the burqa? As Nonie Darwish writes in her must-read, _Cruel and Usual Punishment_,
Sharia has solved the problem of male sexual temptation not by civilizing the male and teaching him self-restraint and respect for the female body, but by punishing the woman. The female this must mold her life to hide her shame, her body, her awrah. Even in Muslim countries that don’t enforce wearing the hijab, women who don’t cover up are often harassed, ridiculed, or attacked.
In his much-ballyhooed Cairo speech to the Muslim world in 2009, President Obama sided with Islamic fundamentalism against Western freedoms, blaming Western countries for “dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear” (ironic, considering that it’s actually Muslim men dictating that), and saying such action constituted “hostility” towards religion “disguised” in “the pretense of liberalism.”
Actually, it is the perpetuation of this oppression in the name of multiculturalism that constitutes “a pretense of liberalism.” Enslaved by this multicultural mindset, Western fashion designers, many of whose designs already reek of hatred toward women, have begun toying with burqa designs. “The burqa is the wardrobe of choice for many Muslim women,” declares ABC News in a repulsive and ridiculous photo series, ignoring the many Muslim women who do not wear it by choice and consigning them to oblivion:
[The burqa] is worn over a woman’s daily clothing, usually covering her from head to toe. Today, the burqa has gone designer, popping up on fashion runways in the West… The designers reportedly say they are aiming their collection at Muslims and non-Muslims. [Emphasis added]
So instead of helping free Muslim women from this cruelly enforced anonymity, “enlightened” Western designers are aiding and abetting their oppression as well as the spread of sharia by hoping the burqa will envelop – literally – non-Muslim women as well.
Regarding the “many Muslim women” who choose to be covered, here is Darwish again:
I have no doubt that many women who wear the nikab by choice are militants who see themselves as holy warriors behind their male jihadists fighting the West to achieve their caliphate… Make no mistake about it, these women are immune to ridicule and contempt and have one focus and one purpose: their absolute defense of Sharia. Such women must never be role models to young American Muslims, but must be regarded as poor souls who don’t realize that they carry the seeds of their own destruction.
Just as Kim Kardashian must never be a role model to young non-Muslim women who now may see a burqa as just another “traditional,” “regional dress.” Kardashian can leave her burqa behind in Dubai, and jet off to the next photo shoot baring a substantial expanse of her assets – or covering up modestly but stylishly, as she wishes. In the West, she has that freedom. For now. Meanwhile the Muslim women she and the media ignored beneath their burqas are left condemned to an existence of punishment and anonymity.