Okay, so it’s been a little while since I last posted, but that is because I have been busy moving to Philadelphia and getting settled into my new apartment. Needless to say, Philly is massively different from Chicago, and I’m still trying to get my bearings.
But I noticed something yesterday that hit me like a ton of bricks. It was a woman in a burqa. Outside of news stories on TV about Afghanistan, I have never seen someone wearing one in the flesh. I didn’t ever consider what it would be like to see someone in one, because I assumed no woman in America would or could be subjected to such torture. And yes, in 101 degree heat, wearing head to toe swathes of black fabric must be torture. But there I was, reaching for a package of Golden Oreos and there she was next to me, picking up some Goldfish. I’ve got to tell you, it was creepy. The idea that I couldn’t see her face, that I could barely ever tell if there was a woman under there made me more uncomfortable than I can express.
I thought this experience would be a one-off, but then again when I was at Target I was picking up some dishes and the woman working there was in a burqa. She asked if I needed help and I simply said, “I’m sorry, but I would like to speak to someone who’s face I can see”. It was simple, it was straightforward and it was honest. The way that she paused and turned around, though, expressed her surprise and distaste. But I don’t care. I don’t know if there’s some extremist mosque around where I live, but in the week that I’ve been here I have now seen over a dozen women (I think they’re women) in burqas. I respect everyone’s right to practice their religion, but I cannot support people walking around in public covered in so much fabric you have no idea what could be under there. I refuse to interact with some who hides their face and is ashamed of showing any part of their human body. I cannot in good conscience abide by such an oppressive and tortuous practice. And if that makes me prejudiced, I don’t care.