I’m reading Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I’m reading it on my SONY (not Amazon) eBook reader.
As youÂ probably already know, she’s kind of an amazing woman, and her life has been an amazing life.
And as you probably already know, she made a film defending women’s rights in Islam (Submission)Â with a guy who was then murdered for it. He was stabbed in the street, and a note was attached to his chest with the knife. The note was addressed to Ali, saying, basically, “you’re next.”
This is the world we live in.
The book is good so far. There’s humor and lightness, but of course, there’s also some bad stuff.
I usually have no problem sleeping after reading harrowing tales, but she got me with her story of her sister and her going through clitoral circumcision at the ages of 5 and 6.
It happened while her father and mother were away. They were modern people who didn’t believe in the practice, so the grandmother waited until she had them alone.
After putting the “book” down, I just lay there in the dark and thought about my little daughter, who’s going to another continent without me in less than a month. Fatherhood does change us, I guess.
Anyway, that’s actually not what I’m writing about here, so I’ll get on with it. At one point, Ali’s family moved from Somalia to Saudi Arabia, where women are completely covered up at all times.
This struck me, because at the same time, I happened to be reading Pauline’s journal of our time in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, women aren’t completely covered, but they do cover a lot. For Pauline, this was a hardship, because it was very hot, and she had to wear my heavy shirts buttoned up all the way to her throat, with the sleeves rolled down.
But that wasn’t enough to keep men from staring (a foreign woman was intriguing), and even once grabbing her in a sexual way.
It occured to me that she might have appreciated being covered all the way. No one would know that she was different, and no one would leer, or grab.
Of course, the perfect society would be where men don’t leer at women. But failing that, and I think it’s clear that we have failed that so far, maybe anonymity is nice sometimes.
I wonder if I might like to go about, every once in a while, with no one knowing who I am, and no one seeing my face or the general shape of my body. Obviously, I wouldn’t want it to be the law. I wouldn’t want police to beat me for not going around that way. Saudi Arabia is a distincly horrific place.
But every once in a while, especially for a woman, I wonder whether it would be a relief.