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To Burqua Or Not To Burqua

Updated: 4 days ago

It's All About the Male Gaze

Susanna and the Elders by Tintoretto, 1550

"There was a man living in Babylon whose name was Joakim. He married the daughter of Hilkiah, named Susanna, a very beautiful woman and one who feared the Lord. Susanna would go into her husband’s garden to walk. Every day, two elders used to see her going in and walking about, and they began to lust after her. Once, while they were watching for an opportune day, she went in as before with only two maids, and wished to bathe in the garden, for it was a hot day. No one was there except the two elders, who had hidden themselves and were watching her." - Daniel 13: 1-15

 Around the 1500's, nudes came back into art, having been conspicuously absent since Roman times. Practically every major male artist, as well as some women artists such as Artemisia Gentileschi, have offered their version of the parable in which Susanna is always naked. In Tintoretto's painting, a naked Susanna gazes directly into the eyes of the viewer who, like the lecherous elders, becomes a voyeur. It's all about the male gaze, although in today's excruciating, politically correct world, the gay, lesbian, and transgender gazes merit acknowledgment as well.

In my youth, I had once considered becoming a priest. To encourage this selfless but misguided impulse to serve God and humankind, the Catholic school where I was enrolled offered day trips to nearby monasteries where prospective applicants might savour the religious life for a few hours before returning to their mundane lives of TV watching and petty quarrelling with siblings over our parents' affection. It also involved a day off from school, an offer no naughty boy could refuse.

On one such field trip, our group of 14-year-olds visited a local Franciscan monastery were the friars were waited on, hand and foot, by a bevy of rather young Mexican nuns. It was the late 1950s, McCarthyism was safely in the trashcan, the Vietnam War had not yet reached nightmarish proportions, and women everywhere were eagerly awaiting FDA approval of "the pill." Already, vocations were declining and, as old age and attrition reduced nunneries to skeleton crews comprised of the most elderly hangers-on, the Church looked to the Third World for its feedstock. The virgin pin craze was over.

My name being Francesco, the Franciscan Order seemed apropos, a poetic touch. Nonetheless, like every ointment, this one had its fly. Having been born on the sixth day of a sixth month in a sixth year (666), Satan already had me on his radar.

At midday of the visit, our group was treated to a lunch prepared by the Mexican nuns: a hot and spicy chili con carne comprised of rice, beans, and tortillas. I soon noticed an attractive young novice (nun-in-training) eyeing me as I wolfed down the beans. Her cheeks flushed, she smilled sweetly, and I, already thinking with the little head between my legs instead of the big one atop my shoulders, smiled back. Yup, celibacy was not for this boy! By the time the beans and rice had been converted to methane, I'd already undressed that pious girl and was feeling her up in my mind.

To Burqua Or Not To Burqua

“I have been arguing for a feminist critique of Orientalism since the mid-1990s. I think I was one of the first female historians to say that Orientalist paintings from the first half of the twentieth century weren’t really about the Orient. There’s a major misunderstanding: the women in them are presented as ‘orientals’ because it allows them to be undressed by giving them an exoticized femininity.” - Christelle Taraud

"Odalisques" an Orientalist painting by Henri Adrien Tanooux, 1905

I couldn't agree more with MS Taraud's assessment. What Western Orientalist painters did was to simply impose a European concept of feminine beauty onto an oriental template, thereby skirting the morals police. Even then, there were limits imposed by Victorian and Belle Epoque-era notions of propriety and the predominant Christian sects, especially in Catholic France and the forever-anal USA. Naked women portrayed by 19th and early 20th century artists would have been politically incorrect and unacceptable to the majority (those who were still moral) if the artists had added underarm and pubic hair to their naked subjects. Instead, the shaved pubes made them A-Okay with Victorians and Edwardians and still strike a pedophilic chord with today’s audiences.

“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves part of their outer garments.” - Al-Azhab 33:59

“And tell the believing women to reduce their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which necessarily appears thereof and to wrap their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment.” - An-Nur 24:31

Of course, the converse of Ms Taraud's observation is the Muslim notion that the more covered a woman is, the more seductive she becomes. I disagree with that premise but hey, isn't sexual arousal largely a matter of conditioning? Or maybe I do agree. Just remembering that Mexican nun thing.

Okay, so I'm a visually oriented dude...

Left: the fantasy. Right: the reality. Image source: Ebay

The key to unlocking the reason that women are encouraged to cover themselves in the male presence, at least those subscribing to the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) isn't difficult to discover, if one looks to history and reads between the lines.

“For there is an enemy beyond Ayesha, and it is History herself. History is the blood--wine that must no longer be drunk. History the intoxicant, the creation and possession of the Devil, of the great Shaitan, the greatest of the lies -- progress, science, rights -- against which the Imam has set his face. History is a deviation from the Path, knowledge is a delusion, because the sum of knowledge was complete on the day Allah finished his revelation to Mahound.” – Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses, Chapter IV

"Ayesha" refers to the Prophet Muhammed's 6-year-old bride who, considering that the Prophet's trajectory intersected with that of Daniel and most of the Hebrew Bible. Ayesha becomes a kind of seventh-century Susanna. Like most older dudes who shack up with very young women, Muhammed was suspicious about Ayeha’s propensity for committing adultery.

"I cannot accuse her of any defect except that she is still a young girl who sleeps, neglecting her family's dough which the domestic goats come to eat.” –  sahih al-bukhari: 2637

In other words, she was deemed too simpleminded to deceive her husband.

But wait. Aren't “domestic goats” a codified reference to the "elders" of the Sussana parable, a Hebrew cautionary tale that surely would have entered the oral literature of seventh-century Arab society and was likely familiar to Muhammed with his purported knowledge of the Bible?

It's all about the male gaze

Left: Confronting the male gaze by retiring into your tent. Right: The impulse to become airborne.

The burqua and hijab are no more separable from Islam than the traditional nuns' habits are separable from Christianity. "Hijab" is simply the Arab word for veil; nothing really complicated about that. The hijab has no uniform style and tends to blend in with the plethora of non-Islamic veils, shawls, and head scarves. When I was a wee lad, women were forced to cover their heads whenever entering a Catholic church. They routinely wore veils and gloves that are still fashionable outside the context of religion.

Source: Amazon

"The Elders" ratchet up the pressure

The book of Daniel goes on to say:

"When the maids had gone out, the two elders got up and ran to her. They said, “Look, the garden doors are shut, and no one can see us. We are burning with desire for you; so give your consent, and lie with us. If you refuse, we will testify against you that a young man was with you, and this was why you sent your maids away.” - Daniel 13: 19-21

The two old reprobates were court judges and, in Susanna's own words "I am trapped." Nonetheless, Susanna refused to "lie" with the two men, nor did she offer a perfunctory blowjob.

Daniel continues:

"The next day, when the people gathered at the house of her husband Joakim, the two elders came, full of their wicked plot to have Susanna put to death. As she was veiled, the scoundrels ordered her to be unveiled, so that they might feast their eyes on her beauty.  The elders said, 'While we were walking in the garden alone, this woman came in with two maids, shut the garden doors, and dismissed the maids. Then a young man, who was hiding there, came to her and lay with her.' Because they were elders of the people and judges, the assembly believed them and condemned her to death by stoning." - Daniel 13: 31-41

Post-modern Susanna. A condemned woman is offered a sip of water before being stoned to death.

Under Mosaic law, penal sanctions which carry a death sentence by stoning include homosexuality, adultery, incest, lying about one's virginity, bestiality, witchcraft, idolatry or apostasy, public blasphemy, false prophesying, kidnapping, rape, and bearing false witness in a capital case. Sharia law prescribes similar penalties for the same so-called crimes.

In October 2008, 13-year-old Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow became a contemporary Susanna when she reported having been gang-raped by three armed men belonging to the local al-Shabaab (ISIS in Africa) militia-dominated police force in Kismayo, a city that was controlled by Islamist insurgents. The accused, however, claimed that Aisha had committed adultery, seducing the men into raping her by "chatting them up." Witnesses reported that rather simple-minded Aisha pled innocence, begging for mercy while she was physically forced into the hole in which she was buried up to her neck and stoned to death. The execution took place in a public stadium attended by around 1,000 onlookers, several of whom attempted to intervene but were shot by the militants. Aisha was not wearing the burqua. (Source: Wikipedia)

To make a long parable shorter, when the biblical Susanna, like the unfortunate Aisha, was led toward the nearest public stadium for stoning, a young man called Daniel emerged from the eager crowd of onlookers. He reprimanded the Israelites for taking the word of a woman's accusers without other evidence. In a move worthy of American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., he took the two men aside and grilled them separately.

“You old relic of wicked days, your sins have now come home, which you have committed in the past, pronouncing unjust judgments, condemning the innocent and acquitting the guilty, though the Lord said, ‘You shall not put an innocent and righteous person to death. 

"'Now then, if you really saw this woman, then tell me this: Under what tree did you see them getting down and dirty with each other?” The man answered, 'Under a mastic tree.' And Daniel said, 'Very well! This lie has cost you your head, for the angel of God has received the sentence from God and will immediately slice you in two.'

"Then, putting him to one side, he ordered them to bring the other elder, and he said to him, “'You offspring of a camel humping Canaanite and not of Judah, beauty has beguiled you and lust has perverted your heart. This is how you have been treating the daughters of Israel, and they were intimate with you through fear; but a daughter of Judah would not tolerate your wickedness. Now then, tell me: Under what tree did you catch them being intimate with each other?' The old reprobate answered, 'Under an evergreen oak.' Daniel then said to him, 'Very well! This lie has cost you also your head, for the angel of God is waiting with his sword to split you in two, so as to destroy you both.'” - Daniel 13: 53-57

Having cancelled J.K. Rowling, if any Wokie wants to read more Harry Potter style writing, they should check out the Book of Daniel.

Source: Wikipedia and Alessandro Allori, 1561

Judging from the intense grilling of prospective U.S. Supreme Court justices regarding their sexual proclivities a-la-Brett M. Kavanaugh, it may be time to bring back the veil or even impose the burqua. As the Bible suggests and the Quran insists, it's always best to cover up. It's even more important for teenage women to learn to say NO, before they shed their remaining clothes under the influence of alcohol and hollow promises proffered by aspiring Supreme Court justices.

In the end, here's what happened to the elders (corrupt judges) who used their office to solicit sexual favours from the legendary Susanna and who knows how many other less determined Israeli girls and women. Hamas, please take note.

Left: Ultimate fate of the judges according to Daniel. Right: contemporary version.

Look but don't touch

In my church-going days, we were forbidden to entertain impure thoughts under pain of mortal sin (i,e,, eternally roasting in Hell) and, being a visually oriented guy, those thoughts always involved separating girls from their undergarments. Thinking was equivalent to sinning-in-the-mind, like what I'd accomplished with that cute little Mexican nun and subsequently recounted in confession the following Saturday. If I had been Muslim, or even Jewish, I could have blamed those salacious thoughts on women and girls and gotten away with a pass. No need to confess because, well, if you put food in front of a hungry man, then what's he supposed to do. Not look? Not eat? That's how gender apartheid works.

Seventy percent of London's boroughs are Muslim dominated. Validating the Islamist contention that the more a woman is covered, the more seductive she becomes. Image source: Finestre sull’ Arte.

Like every problem, however thorny, there's always ca workaround. Women and girls don't need to go around like walking tents or band together in nunneries for protection against the male gaze. No need for the burqua or even those flimsy veils of the 1950s. A woman can't become pregnant or contract an ugly social disease by simply looking at a man or allowing him to look at her, not yet anyway, although I'm sure that woke science is working on it. Instead, they need to deflect the male touch while ignoring the cat calls and leerying gaze. And the appropriate apparatus has been with us for a very long time.

If the biblical Susanna had been suitably outfitted, those abusive elders would have frittered away their time searching out the key, then likely moved on to the next garden on the block.

Left: “La Castidad” by Àngel Martin de Lucenay, 1933, Maite Zubiaurre Collection. Right: From “Iniciación en la vida sexual: higiene secreta del matrimonio, virginidad y desfloración,” Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid.

Chastity belts are available in a range of configurations on both eBay and Amazon.

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Sex is the forbidden fruit of the religious. Chimpanzees are far more conventional than humans when it comes to sex — they want to preserve their numbers. So all males are free to impregnate all females. It’s preservation of the species. Humans aren’t that smart.

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