As much as I liked the article, very detailed, very well done, very intelligently written (maybe too well, as there are few comments), I was struck by the author’s picture at the bottom. Cognitive dissonance for me. Because she is writing about the false appearances of opening up and liberalizing women’s lives in Saudi, her own appearance with the head scarf is jolting. It just stopped me. Like one of those old pictures saying “colored-only” on a water fountain with “colored folk” all around, just an everyday reality for them and no one taking a drink from a “whites only” fountain. I remember those and I remember the lunch-counter sit-ins.
As mere fashion, I do think it is a fetching picture of her. As fashion or religious pride I am fine with the garment. But I can’t help thinking that this is head gear is often required (the burka being far worse) on pain of punishment which varies in severity from relatively mild to flogging to jail and sometimes worse. True this isn’t everywhere, yet we are talking cosmetic-only changes to abuse in Saudi, and by implication, elsewhere.
I also can’t help thinking that this is typical of denial of abuse by those abused. In an article detailing how cosmetic are the changes in life for Saudi women the head gear in the author’s picture becomes a reminder of control with cosmetic-only freedom, not freedom. I do really want to support her choice of appearance in anything, and this can be such a choice. So it drives me a little crazy because I also see the oppressive side of the head scarf. It isn’t the garment, but the usage and the social control. Men do not wear this. This is simply fashion which was common centuries ago which gradually became a tool of control.