Friday, November 18, 2005

Dress Codes

Timothy Garton Ash on Iran in the NYRB (via David Aaronovitch's column in The Times).
The clothes worn by men have a less familiar symbolic language. A law student came to see me dressed in a dark suit and tie. At first, I thought he must be a young fogey; but I could not have been more wrong. Because the regime's regulation dress for men is strictly tie-less (as was President Ahmadinejad when he addressed the UN), to wear a suit and tie is a mark of brave nonconformity.
This is just a flavour. Read the whole thing, as they say.

Somewhat more recent, but still subscribers only, 'Girl power' by Noha Mellor:
Nancy, a young and attractive Arab woman with long flowing hair, blue eyes and fluttering eyelashes, is serving the drinks in a cafe where all the customers are young men. She flits among the tables, smiling and wearing a skimpy dress. Then she looks into the camera and sings [...]

“The stereotypical image of the Arab woman is that she is simply a ‘body’, with less intellectual and spiritual capabilities than a man - and video clips in fact support that perception,” says Amina al-Dhaheri, professor of mass communications at United Arab Emirates University [...]

[...] perhaps provocative female behaviour can challenge male domination, rather than confirm it - or at least, that is the professed hope of Nadine Labaki, director of some of Nancy Ajram’s most controversial videos. Labaki defends her video of Ajram dancing for a group of men in a public cafe: “As Arab women, we used to live in fear of the Other’s gaze; we were imprisoned in our own bodies. So I wanted to create a new female character that is not afraid and has no problem with her body.


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