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The Veil, Desire, and the Gaze

abby rose's picture

As I read The Veil, Desire, and the Gaze, I realized how little I knew about veiling and veiling fashions. Many of my ideas about veiling were based off of uninformed, inexperienced Western dialogue about what it means to be a woman wearing a veil. After thinking about this more and having a conversation with Nkechi, I am now beginning to think that I have no place making judgements about wearing a veil or not, because I genuinely do not know what it's like and I grew up in a place where I rarely, if ever, encountered women who wore veils. Does it matter how I view these women? In a society that I have absolutely no place or authority in? It feels wrong to theorize and judge something I know so little about, whether positively or negatively. I wonder, where does our fixation on veils come from? Why does our opinion on veiling in other countries have a place in our Western discussions of feminism that are often entirely centered around people who do not wear veils/do not encounter women who wear veils? 

However! I do think that essays such as this one that show us the intricacies and depth of that which we know little about are important to read. Not to justify our opinions or theories, but to demonstrate just how much we overlook when we think about other cultures at surface level and give us greater insight into the lives of others that we so often judge. Especially when we look at them through our Western/U.S. point of view that sets standards based off its our own self-image.