France, 2011, sees the introduction of a law which bans the wearing of the Niqab or face veil in public. [BBC Report]
See this article from The Sun (2008) regarding "sexy clothes for kids".
The Sun is hardly society’s role model (with its Page 3 topless babe every day) but when it publishes stories like this, I take my hat off to it. Tesco, one the biggest supermarket chains in the UK, was definitely acting irresponsibly by stocking the clothing range, but, they are only the "supply" in the "supply-and-demand". Who are they supplying these types of clothes to? What kind of parent buys these outfits for their 7-year-old daughter?
That was 2008. Fast forward 3 years and what has changed? See this article. Turn on MTV and other music video channels at anytime and witness what is being termed "the pornification of pop". It seems that almost every female singer is half-naked – from your Rihanna’s to your Lady Gaga’s - and dancing provocatively. Eye candy? Or inappropriate smut?
Tabloids like The Sun (UK), FHM magazine and countless other publications in the West seem to promote nudity as the norm. The Sun actively searches for what it calls "Page 3 Idol" and FHM runs a similar campaign.
The surprising thing is that girls actually aspire to be a Page 3 model. There are 14 and 15 year old girls out there who are thinking, right now, "When I am older, I want to be a Page 3 model". Let me rephrase that…there are 12 year old girls out there thinking the same thing. [See this remarkable story]. And some parents are encouraging them to follow their dreams…
I will not debase Western society to the extent of calling the entire social system "sick", no. I do believe that most of the ideals in the West are a step too far, a tad bit too liberal but, in its defence, there are many decent people out there. Yes, the West promotes freedom of speech, freedom of expression but should those freedoms filter down to a 7 year old girl’s raunchy clothing?
Freedom of expression and all that...it is every woman’s prerogative...every woman’s right to dress the way she wants. I couldn’t agree more...
That aside, what of the general porn star-esq of modern day Western woman’s wardrobes? Why are women dressing the way they do? And why are men following suit with their skinny jeans, tight T-shirts and women’s hair-do’s?
What of France’s banning of a "decent" garment? France therefore allows nudity but bans modesty? An example of how upside-down the West has become, surely.
Walk down any London street this – and any other - summer and you will be witness to an abundance of human flesh on display. Legs here, cleavage there and midriff all around, every which way you turn your eyes. Most offices in London are not much better. Increasingly relaxed attitudes have emerged with regards to what women are allowed to wear at their places of work.
Why do women dress this way? What is the "fashion statement" that they are making? Do these women actually feel good about themselves as they step out of their front doors and immediately start being ogled at by men everywhere? Does this really boost their confidence?
It my personal opinion that this cheapens women in the sight of many men, myself and most of my friends included. And this opinion of mine was not born out of Islam – I assure readers that my thinking was exactly the same a long time before I became a Muslim.
I cannot hope to answer the questions I have asked above...to do so is to assume too much because I’m sure, each woman’s answer will be different. But what I can do is speak from a man’s perspective. My perception of this type of dressing has been made clear enough above. Men are visual and so naturally, we will stare and stare some more at women dressed like porn stars walking past us in the street. And the general idea behind the long, hard staring – for those men that have actually taken a moment to think about why they do it – is because we believe that if the goods are on display, then they are there for everyone to look at. And how we look!
We get stiff necks turning back to see more and even car accidents are caused all because we want one more look at these "public goods"! Is there a better way to describe it than public goods or public property?
Sure, freedom of expression and all that...it is every woman’s prerogative...every woman’s right to dress the way she wants. I couldn’t agree more. It is not every Muslim family that imposes the Hijab, Niqab or Burka on their daughters. And it is not every Western family that imposes a decent dress sense on theirs. But surely a common sense of decency should prevail? Can fathers not grow their girls up to understand that "all the boys are going to be looking at you if you wear that"? He will, of course, be speaking from personal experience!
My question for the half-naked-on-the-street women is one: Will you go to meet the parents of your future husband dressed like that?
Girls, here is a little secret...most men don’t take women who dress like porn stars very seriously. As far as most men are concerned, porn stars are only good for one thing...
It would also seem that the only way modern female pop stars can be taken seriously as artists is to portray "the bad girl". As far back as Madonna and Salt-n-Pepa to modern day Rihanna and Lady Gaga, the message being churned out by the record industry to us all is that sex (still) sells. Cinema is no different.
Art imitates life? And what of the women and young girls on the street dressed as your everyday porn/pop star? Or life imitating art? Whichever way you look at it, this type of attitude is filtering down into the mainstream society; your sisters and daughters actually want to look like that because it is so common, so normal now in Western societies.
Facials for men, "skinny" jeans, feminine hair-do’s...a few of my friends and I refer to them as "Indie-boys", imitating the indie-bands, with their mascara eyes and feminine mannerisms. Where have all the real men gone?
Metro-sexual, indie-boys, lady-boys; whatever label they attach on themselves, the fact of the matter is that they are fuelling the industry in men’s cosmetics. A report in 2008 showed that in the period 2001 – 2008, the industry had grown by a whopping 800%.
Many articles and blogs have posted "hate-mail" on the internet about the scourge of men wearing skinny jeans. As in the case of women’s trashy outfits, skinny jeans on men is one of my pet hates. Walk down many London streets (and indeed, on dress-down Friday’s in the office) and you get an eye-full of male genitals encased in trendy, skin-tight jeans. I find this disgusting, to say the very least.
This article is titled "Hijab vs. Western Dress" and insha’Allah I will develop this discussion on Western men in a future article.
The reason I have added this section to this article is to illustrate the general change in dress sense in the West, of both men and women, and the resulting degradation of (a) morals and (b) decency.
Islam teaches that women should cover themselves to preserve their modesty. There are other references in both the Qur'an and the Hadiths, but this one makes it quite clear. [Qur'an 33:59]
As illustrated above, women who dress provocatively are often subject to stares and whistles from men, and certainly, many of these woman may perhaps feel annoyed at this! How many times have women complained about men staring at them in the gym, and how uncomfortable this makes them feel? Read this discussion and see how quickly the words "rape" and "pervert" and "harassment" entered into the conversation.
Why has the West seen a sudden increase in "Women Only" gyms? See this Google search for women only gyms.
And there we have an excellent example of the Infinite Wisdom of Allah! Who know better than our Creator the nature of man and woman?
Jesus (pbuh) incidentally also said in Matt 5:27-28:- You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery". But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Who induces lust more? A woman dressed as a nun? Or a woman dressed as a porn star?
Why the hijab? Why cover the hair and neck? [See Qur'an 24:31]. As a man, I will honestly say that most men find a woman’s hair very attractive. Women who display their "adornments", i.e. their beauty, to those other than their husbands, I ask, are they at fault? Or is it the fault of the men who stare at them and whistle? Do the same men stare and whistle at a Catholic nun? Or do they not give them a second look? Sure, the men should practice decency too, but why dangle the carrot in front of their eyes?
In January 2011, reports emerged that record numbers of white British women were converting to Islam. [The Sun & Daily Mail]. Many of these women describe wearing the hijab as "liberating". Surprisingly, the hijab, to them, is more liberating than those skin-tight jeans and sexy tight tops these women used to wear. Interesting!
Can we not then say, to modern Western woman regarding her dress sense, that the buck starts and stops with a woman? If women dress more modestly and sensibly in public, then men will stop staring and whistling. Unless, of course, the woman intends for the men to stare and whistle at them.
Are we then therefore truly surprised at the sight of the 12 year old girl walking down the street with the words "porn star" emblazoned on her T-shirt? And the words "California Babe" stretched across her bottom? Are we honestly surprised that Tesco and Primark are selling padded bra’s for 8-year-old girls? And that young girls are being given pole dancing lessons? Are these stories true? Or are they simply page-fillers appearing in the tabloids?
As we are starting to see, young children are starting to emulate their role-models (their parents) and those role models are actually encouraging them to dress – and behave - as adult and as provocatively as them. Many will agree that the role of a mother is that of the nurture of their children. What hope do we have if mothers sexualise their young girls by dressing them in provocative clothing clearly designed for one thing: to attract the attention of the opposite sex? A quote from a mis-guided woman who, in my opinion, is not fit to be a mother: "The spray tan (for my four year old girl) really gives her confidence a boost". [Story here]
This is not an appeal for every woman to wear a hijab and the non-figure-hugging jilbab worn by many Muslim women. It is an appeal for modesty. Both males and females need to stop parading their curves and their bulges for the whole world to see. It is an appeal for decency. And most importantly, it is an appeal for some common sense.