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Yesterday I caught a taxi to my braincare specialist's. My driver was muslim, and he gave me the look of wondering whether he knew me, so I explained that no, I'm not muslim but *insert speil*, and we got chatting. I asked if his wife wore the veil, she does, I asked what she'd think of my decision and he reckoned she'd be quite fine with it. I asked where he was from, and he said Australia. (I took his point. On further dicussion, he came here from Lebanon when he was a young man. Although there is an important point there about how many people, who are Australians, feel. Especially in the current climate where identity and loyalty is being questioned). We chatted about how important free choice is: he has two daughters that have, at different times in their lives, worn hijab and not worn hijab, and how important it is that it be a personal choice.

He thinks the people who wear niqab are fanatics - and that God doesn't want people to cover their faces. He also reckons a whole lot of stuff about modesty and not giving everything away to just anyone. The idea of self respect being tied to modesty seems to be around the idea that somehow once something (women) have been seen and used, they are less valuable. This view is found everywhere (hello, slut shaming) as though sexuality is something that can be used up. Curious, though, that his limit is that faces remain uncovered - these sorts of beliefs (in any culture) are rarely entirely consistent.

I do feel a bit sad about his position: he clearly felt the need to rant about how un-Islamic the daeshe are (them that call themselves "Islamic State"). It must absolutely suck to find yourself tainted with the brush of those people and to constantly feel you must explain what your own position is. I have only limited experience of this, in that I hear people who claim to be christians spout the most ridiculous drivel and worse, I hear people who aren't christians claiming that to be a christian is to believe that ridiculous drivel.


My braincare specialist was hilarious: she looked at me in surprise, and I gave her my blandest, most normal hello, and then she asked if she was allowed to ask. And I said "so much has happened!" Then I explained and she was kind of relieved, because she figures as a psychiatrist she really should have been able to spot if I had been on the verge a major spiritual epiphany.


Pleasant chat with one of the receptionists, who began with the "oh that scarf really suits you!" And I explained, and she pulled that line out about the likely consequences of wearing a bikini "over there". So I pulled out the line about how that's not here, and we're better here, and that in some parts of Papua, women are considered less valuable than livestock and they aren't wearing scarves and that it really comes back to the reality that it's not okay, there or here or anywhere, to be assaulting women for their dress code. And that I've been enjoying these conversations with people, although they're also distressing because people have told me that they're hearing friends say terrible things that they'd never thought their friends would say and that I think it's really important to get the message out that we don't treat people like that here. Then we jointly pondered what causes people to act so violently if it's not religion.

(Aside: I personally believe some people like power and those people will use whatever means are at their disposal to get it.)


This left me pondering the business of the best lines to counter the "bikinis over there" non-argument. I was seeing Exboi! for dinner and he put it quite simply: we shouldn't justify our behaviour by the worst examples of other people's. (I need to recite this, or write it down somewhere handy).

Oh, and we went to a local dumpling place for dinner. What with the house specialty being pork dumplings, I suspect I might have been the first woman with a headscarf in the place, but I honestly don't think anyone afforded me more than a passing glance. Exboi! didn't think they did either. The waiter may have blinked when I walked in, but he was otherwise his normal friendly self, as was the chef.

Curiously, the old Italian guy who sits on the fence across the road and usually waves to me hasn't been doing so.


I am feeling a bit sick of the effort involved in having conversations though. And I did feel very sorry for my taxi driver and the unenviable position he has been put in by the conflation of his religion with the views of violent fanatics and the suspicion of his loyalty.

This entry was originally posted at http://splodgenoodles.dreamwidth.org/2438565.html. You may comment here, or there using OpenID if you have no Dreamwidth account.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 16th, 2014 12:53 pm (UTC)
You know, so much of what you describe is so familiar, if from a completely different angle- in my case from the angle of a frightened, but relieved fifteen year old.

It's not (necessarily) religion- I'm a Christian of sorts (Quaker) and were pacifist- it's at the heart and core of what we believe- it's fear of the other and I know about being the other and know how it can feel.
Oct. 16th, 2014 01:19 pm (UTC)
This interests me, are you willing to explain a bit more?

frightened, but relieved What do you mean here?
Oct. 16th, 2014 01:41 pm (UTC)
I transitioned at 15- at one level it was very scary, but at another it was such a relief. The next one came at 18 when 'they' finally allowed me to start taking HRT and stuff to block the hormonal stuff I didn't want.

See, everyone knows better than you what you need and what's going on inside your head and inside your body and making that adjustment means you change to those around you and assumptions can get made, as with someone wearing a hijab- assumptions that are just plain wrong.

You've been experiencing a bit of that and does it ever ring true to my own experience!

Fwiw, open minded, liberal people tend to have the least problems with such things and that speaks volumes.
Oct. 16th, 2014 04:32 pm (UTC)
Wouldn't it be nice if all these conversations were completely unnecessary?

Oct. 16th, 2014 07:45 pm (UTC)
we shouldn't justify our behaviour by the worst examples of other people's

Yes! that is such a good statement and I love it.
Oct. 16th, 2014 09:02 pm (UTC)
I am finding your experiment very interesting.
Exboi! sounds like a very sharp mind with that statement of his.

I wonder why the old Italian guy has stopped waving. I hope it's not about intolerance but I fear it might be?

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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