A Response to the Detractors of Our Burqa-for-a-Day Article
Aug 9 2012
Two days ago our fashion editor Annette Lamothe-Ramos posted an article detailing her experience wearing a face mask and blanket with sleeves for a day in New York City. She is not Muslim, and if you read the article carefully you will notice that there is hardly a mention of religion. The point was to treat these articles of clothing as any other—completely secular and devoid of higher meaning. In our view, she accomplished this, and while there have been many, many supporters of her piece, there have of course been a few detractors.
Whether or not you agree with Annette’s point—or think it was poorly executed—we would like to ask you one question: Would it have been any more or less offensive if she dressed in Amish garb or as a nun for a day? Annette addresses two of her detractors below, and we’ve left their comments unedited.
PS: This is nothing new for us. Commenter Angelita, who Annette responds to below, asked, “Would you also consider rolling around in a wheelchair all day to document people's reactions and get a feel for it? Then speak on behalf of disabled people by talking about your own experience pretending to be disabled? Why don't you put on blackface too?” Yes, we would. We’ve done both, and you can read about them here and here. They're called sociological experiments, and we’re not going to apologize for having fun while doing them.
PPS: Hey, Daily Mail, you are perhaps the most black-hearted hypocrites we’ve ever encountered. (For anyone too lazy to click the link, the Daily Mail wrote a histrionic piece criticizing Annette’s article but did the EXACT SAME THING in 2008, except theirs was far more purposefully offensive and spiteful and directly referenced Islam. Our favorite line? “… a burka makes you clumsy, slow, [and] fearful because you can’t hear, and helpless; I spent most of the week feeling like a disabled person.)
COMMENT FROM ANGELITA
How completely offensive and orientalist of you... and for vice to endorse these types of fashion "blogs." Thanks for sharing with the world YOUR privileged feelings on playing dress up for a single day, and speaking on behalf of the women who actually live this lifestyle. Would you also consider rolling around in a wheelchair all day to document people's reactions and get a feel for it? Then speak on behalf of disabled people by talking about your own experience pretending to be disabled? Why don't you put on blackface too? For you to dress up as another identity of other REAL PEOPLE, then just step out of your "costume" at the end of the day is an act of privilege. And then telling the world that your experience dressing up as them sucks???! and "thank goodness you don't have to do that again"? You have got to be kidding me.
Not to mention this is written with an abundance of completely inconsiderate, distasteful, snide, oppressive remarks... "Grim Reaper"?? BATMAN? And the worst of all, "Doesn’t Ben look like he just married a virgin?" Remarks like these mask the rapes and sexual assaults that Muslim women face and further make their experiences invisible. Didn't it occur to you at all that you might have been doing something offensive when you wrote this article? Shame on you.
COMMENT FROM MORGAN
Well, Annette, you achieved your goal! You strove to achieve absolute idiocy and you DID IT. YAY.
I agree with everything Angelita Bonita said. Your ignorance is stifling. Your blatant lack of desire to educate yourself, have a meaningful experience, or even LEARN something from the experience you did have is overwhelming. The fact that Vice had the audacity to applaud you by publishing you is revolting. Everyone involved in this—and that doesn't exclude Ben, the "virgin marry-er", by the way—should get step back and shut up.
And ps - educate yourself. You're totally wearing a niqab. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/05/europe_muslim_veils/html/2.stm
Dear Morgan and Angelita:
I appreciate your thoughtful replies. I'm sorry that you both were offended by my piece, but if you hadn't chosen to wear your "selective reading" glasses while skimming through my blog post you would have understood that I was in no way making any kind of statement about Muslim women or Islam. I was writing about a bunch of fabric that was sewn together to make clothing. Had the people around me that day been used to seeing cloaked women on the streets of New York and made me feel equal to my unmasked counterparts, the entire post would have been about how much I really loved my fashion sleeves and they kind of felt like pajamas even though they made me really hot.
I also appreciate you pointing out my misuse of the word "burqa." That was entirely my fault, and I regret the error, but either way I probably still would have included something about how difficult it was to eat with a niqab on. Despite this mistake, I assure you that if I'd actually worn a traditional burqa, the outcome would have been exactly the same. It still would have made me feel like a sweaty princess and look like Batman when I got caught in the breeze. I think it’s just a piece of clothing; if that offends you, perhaps you should consider that religion as a concept is increasingly offensive to many people these days. What are YOU going to do about THAT? Maybe you should write a comment about it.
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