January, 22 2019
Judging Others by What They Wear is Not Being Religious

"'Ladies," the religious teacher said, "I would like you to try to be a man for one day.... I want you to know what it feels like to be a man and to see a woman wearing sexy clothes walking in front of you."

by Ria H Shofiyya
Issues // Politics and Society
Share:
A few days ago my mom decided to share with me a lesson she has learned from a religious community she was a member of. This community is made up of dozens of stay-at-home moms and a male religious teacher and my mom had joined it four years ago. She would often recite to me what her teacher had said in their gathering, but this time what she told me really angered me.
 
I had just finished some dreadful campus assignment at the time, and was ready to relax by watching my favorite TV show, when she sat next to me and began chatting. It was a fun conversation until a female character appeared on the show, wearing what I thought was a fashionable bardot top, but what my mom deemed skanky.
 
This was not unusual in itself; however, triggered by the appearance of the female character, my mom started to give me a lesson about the female body according to our religion. Up to then I could still accept what she was saying, since I had grown up listening to it, but then she began quoting her teacher.
 
“’Ladies,’” she recalled her teacher addressing the gathering, “’I would like you to try to be a man for one day, then try to spend a day at the mall. I want you to know what it feels like to be a man and to see a woman wearing sexy clothes walking in front of you.”
 
Apparently, everyone laughed, according to my mom and I could feel my jaw dropped onto the floor as she was telling me this.
 


First of all, why did he have to tell the ladies in the community to be a man so that they could feel his pathetic desire whenever he sees a 'sexy' woman? I know and believe that not every man on earth shares the same problem as him. Isn't sexual desire supposed to be something rather subjective yet controllable? Unless you are a nymphomaniac, which means you need help. Quick. For him or anyone to generalize it is preposterous.
 
Secondly, instead of painting all men like sex-obsessed pervs, why didn't he tell the women who are mostly wives and mothers to teach the men or boys in their households to control their mind so they would not see every attractive woman walking before them as a sex object?
 
The fact that this statement was made in a religious community also really frustrates me. I believe that every religion teaches us to treat people equally, kindly, and, most importantly, without discrimination. I also believe that no religion on this earth teach us to judge other humans by their appearances. The statement that he made did not represent these values at all.
 
Worst, this has become a banal issue that most people take for granted. For centuries or longer,
women have been blamed for any act of sexism and sexual objectification in society. This way of thinking is clearly outdated.
 
I am a hijab wearer myself, but this fact does not make me feel the urge to despise other women who don't wear hijab. I believe whatever they wear doesn't make them any less a woman or a human in general. Moreover, I am fully aware that being judgmental doesn't make me a better person, not in the eye of society, nor in the eye of God.
 
Even today many people still can't grasp the concept of letting other people do whatever they want to do with their body, including what to wear. As long as they don't threaten other people's lives, then why is it a problem? Neither women nor men deserve to be seen or treated as a sexual object. We are more than what we wear.
 
Also, you can't be religious by being judgmental. It would do the world so much good for us to aim to become a better individual than a judgmental one.
 
Ria H Shofiyya is a graduate student who's mostly silent in class, but never stops talking in mind. This is her first attempt to write.