Unveiling Imperialism, Death by Culture, The Burka and the Bikini

Haris Kuljancic

Where do I start?? All of these articles were very interesting to me because I have studied things very similar to them in the past. Islamic Traditions and Hero Worship were two classes that almost directly dealt with the issues at hand.


         “Unveiling Imperialism” immediately brought back memories of Newt Gingrich saying things like, “I believe Shariah is a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it” (NYTimes).


         Gingrich expressed his dislike towards Sharia law very publicly and proved how little he knew about the actual subject. I want to talk about the fine line between what people find offensive in one culture and understanding or respecting a law of another culture or religion. Sharia law is pretty much the law that Muslims live by, the law that guides them. There was uproar a few years ago in the United States because this law interfered with the constitution and amendments. “Freedom of religion” is emphasized in the United States, but how much is it emphasized when other rules are broken? How can the United States, or any country interfere in another countries social system just because they don’t think it’s right. Towards the end of the “Unveiling Imperialism” article, Stabile and Kumar note, “Reports reveal that women are still punished according to Islamic laws”. However, that is a very general consensus. Again, I would like to reiterate that each country and religion lives by different laws or customs. No matter how bad these might be in one’s eyes, how can one justify the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent people?


         This point reminded me of the Burka and Bikini article. The U.S. encourages women to have slim waists and skinny bodies, and on top of all that, they encourage their women to show off those bodies. How is this any different from women wearing Burkas in other countries? I can guarantee that the U.S. would not appreciate other countries using that as an excuse to come in and invade our societies in order to fix these problems.


         A similar argument can be raised in the reading, “Death by Culture”. I actually just recently read several documents on Rajput Indians and their practices. Women in the culture are encouraged to be good “Sati’s”. In order to do so, they are good to their families, king, and especially, their husbands. One of the practices women participate in is burning themselves on a pyre following their husband’s death. This shows their ultimate loyalty towards their husbands. Although this act is very strong and final, it is one of their fate. Again, I believe that this is something that is very difficult to argue or try to understand because we are of different faiths and beliefs. Ultimately, who is to say what is right from wrong? 



I included the article on Gingrich. 

5 thoughts on “Unveiling Imperialism, Death by Culture, The Burka and the Bikini

  1. Sophie Furman

    Though I agree that every country has it’s own extremes and issues I can’t really decide if sitting back and knowing the extremes and not doing anything is the right way to go, or interfering is the right choice. It’s hard because we don’t live in two places at once, we can’t fully experience these two cultures and immerse our selves to try and understand where they’re coming from if we have lived here our whole life and vice versa. Maybe it should be more about countries self reflecting that interfering with each others issues. However, not one country has is perfect so what is the solution?

  2. Sarah Wills

    Haris makes a great point that people lack enough information in order to make appropriate statements on the treatment of Afghani women. That could be why people were so quick to believe all of the media coverage after 9/11 and the portrayal women. Since women in Afghanistan were virtually invisible before 9/11, we lacked context and information about their lives. So, once the media began releasing information on Afghani women, we were very quick to believe it rather than questioning the intentions of the message. This ignorance can also be applied to the American opinion about the Burka. Since the Burkas cover the female body, we view this as oppressive and unjust. However, we never stop to question the portrayal of the female body in America and how other cultures might view it.

  3. Bianca Scofield

    I really loved your point about bikinis and burkas, “I can guarantee that the U.S. would not appreciate other countries using that as an excuse to come in and invade our societies in order to fix these problems.” Of course the burka was not the only reason that the US invaded Iraq, not even by media standards, but it definitely played a huge role in visually depicting Iraqi women to be mistreated and restricted. It seems it is easy for America to point the finger at other countries for their mistreatment of women when we really have a very similar problem at hand. It may seem as though it is totally different from the oppression that women face in Iraq but what American women are doing to their bodies is damaging to their health, I don’t see how wearing a burka is damaging in regards to health. As my father used to tell me when I was a kid, “when you point the finger at someone else, you have three pointing back at you”.

  4. Olivia Rabbitt

    I think the true ignorance of Americans about the treatment of Afghani women comes from our lack of awareness about our own role in this treatment. Many other students have been talking about the media as a justification of otherwise unacceptable actions and as an outlet for political agendas. I found the article on Gingrich to be particularly interesting because it shows how quickly political alliances can change and media portrayal of these interests can shift. When American politicians wanted to secure an oil pipeline we considered Islamic religious rule a small price to pay, but as soon as our political agenda changed, the burka became the vehicle to show the repression of “Afghan Girls” (never women).

  5. Jihmmy Sanchez

    Haris you bring up some very important points in your reflection. It is crazy how Americans can be flabbergasted by how women are treated in countries like Afghanistan but fail to recognize that masculinity and the media have oppressed women for a long time as well. Women are held to standards of beauty that cannot easily be achieved and that can come at very high costs for some young girls. Or the fact that women of color lack “Femininity” because of their skin color, and how the idea of femininity is only seen in white women. This ideal of beauty puts down many other women who live in the U.S. The endemic of eating disorders that is common among young women in the U.S is horrible, yet many Americans fail to acknowledge any of this and are quick so focus on the problems of another country.

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