He said “personally I think a woman is more attractive, alluring, and sexy with a hijab.” His country is imploding with protests oozing from every corner and he sits comfortably in his western space only some years out from the country of his birth and formation holding steadfast to the belief that this mass society performance (including untold injuries and deaths) is about his and others like him sexual preference. But this was earlier in the week. The world has changed catastrophically since then.
Oppression is a maniacal thing, it seduces some into narratives of grandeur while squashing others into breathlessness. To succeed oppression has to start grooming minds early, convincing the innocent that the harm cause to others is for the other’s benefit; “it’s better for them because…” And thereby weaving future oppressors into narratives of better; as in you are better suited to make this judgment on others’ lives because you ARE. This turns out to be a relatively easy sell to many four, five, six and seven year old minds coming into conscious understanding of a very divided and unfair world. The five or six year old boy who stood at the cash register of Kroger’s in Atlanta berating his mother with what was clearly familiar language as she scrambled to find her credit/debit card to pay for her small container of fruits and vegetables: “You’re just STUPID! STUPID! Give me my DAMN [candy]. You STUPID [explicative]!” He yelled at the top of his young blond hair brown-eyed lungs with levels of noxious venom that out matched his years or height or what should have been innocence. He had learned POWER. His mother, for she was clearly phenotypically a mother/aunt or very very very close genetic relations, smiled and shivered with equal veracity as the cashier handed her a receipt. She had learned her role also. And, it is likely her little boy will not morally grow beyond his five or six year old self. There is little in the society to compel him to do so.
This type of POWER (the misused and abuse) is nothing if it does not have the consent of those groomed to accept its will, the willful acceptance and promotion of inequities and horrific spittle of isms that lines every crease and seam of contemporary twenty-first century life. George Floyd’s murder, raw and in full video playback playback playback, brought a nation to a moment (and it was/is just a moment; thank you) to reflect. Breonna Taylor’s murder; not so much so. No deep reflection there, no national or internationally social searching. She was in the way of the state, or more accurately, the state put her in its way so as to go about the exercised of destroying her life as a matter of course.
“When Shakara did not follow Field’s instructions to leave, he wrapped his arm around her neck and tried to pull her from her desk, which flipped backward to the floor. He dragged her out of the desk, threw her across the floor and arrested her for disturbing the classroom” JENNY JARVIE, L.A. Times, October 2015.
What could this young lady have done? What? What, in our civilized way of being and thinking could she have done, to be dragged from her desk and across the classroom floor and pounced upon? What?, I asked in the calmest professional voice I could muster. WHAT??: I wrote on the board. The question was directed to 30+ students in an introduction to women and gender studies course. It was not a rhetorical, I wanted these young white citizens of a, self-defined, great nation to search their minds (and hearts) and commit to language on the board and in their notebooks justifiable reasons that would demand (compel) a male adult three times the young girls years and at least twice her size to seize upon her mercilessly. It was an open forum discussion/debate. I asked the students to imagine this young lady was in fact their mother, sister, beloved niece or cousin. For this thought exercise, let this young lady be a person, a member of YOUR community. In our 10-15 minutes discussion, debate and sharing, it turned out that there was one reason that could potentially justify such recrimination. It would be that she was an enemy of the state, an agent of the other side, who through her making or not making of a call, through her weaponizing of her silence had summoned enemy forces to immediately attack the state, starting with your location. It would be that she was a TRAITOR of the highest degree, using her ‘masked’ innocence of years and voluminous silence and quietude to unhinged the gates of democratic society. Or, she was Black.
The day after Shakira’s attack there were no national protests; no international ones either. Still we wait; she waits. And Brittney Griner waits as the fabric of her life continues to be ripped asunder.
Masha Jina Amini’s hijab was, from those I understand are in the know, worn correctly; certainly as correct as had become norm. Her crime of youth, womanhood, and Kurdish-ness meant that she was to be of little concern. She was to be a momentary blip, if that, on the landscape of state oppression. But… the state can’t always get what it wants/expects. And, the voluminous silence (a silence gurgling in the wind since the Iranian revolution) has erupted into an international mega-phone, roaring through time; at least through this moment in time. It is not about my colleague’s sexual or sensual preference, and it is in those deeply problematic tyrannical ways. This moment is a clap back at oppression. It is not (and is) about the hijab. This moment is FOR something deeper… A FUTURE FREE
2015. Jarvie, J. Girl thrown from desk didn’t obey because the punishment was unfair, attorney says. https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-girl-thrown-punishment-unfair-20151029-story.html