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Five Hours of a Woman Walking NYC in Hijab

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  • Five Hours of a Woman Walking NYC in Hijab

    I'll start by saying that it is dangerous to assume that clothing protects a woman from harassment and violence. I'll further add to that by stating that a woman shouldn't need to obscure her body to get men to leave her alone. Obviously, women in Muslim-majority countries experience harassment and assault. However, this social experiment is interesting for Muslims as it provides limited evidence that modest dress, at least in Manhattan, may lessen harassment.

    Fresh off the heels of the "woman walks in NYC and predictably gets harassed" video is a new video that shows a woman walking for five hours wearing modest clothing and a jilbab. Now, I expected the video's conclusion. In the United States, a Muslim woman is pretty much synonymous with "not putting out," so perhaps they didn't see a reason to catcall. Perhaps the video was also edited in such a way to reflect what Muslims would expect to see.

    How do you think such a social experiment would play out in Indonesia, as a majority Muslim country? I'm certain that some of the women here have experience, both as covered and uncovered women, with the reactions of men.

    For what it's worth, one of my favorite stories from Indonesia was when I asked my 12th grade, all boy class if any of them had a girlfriend. "Astaghfirullah! No sir!" They all severely shook their heads and swore that they never had a girlfriend. In truth, I couldn't imagine most of them approaching a young woman.


  • #2
    Dan, while I think catcalling is a form of harassment, is it not considered by men in such places as NY as a sign of approval? I doubt the cat callers are the physical molesters though. At the same time do you think the cat callers figured they were just wasting their time on one in a jilbab?

    I would guess physical abusers would be more attracted to the challenge of abusing one in a jilbab but they prefer the easiest target available or basically, they prefer a place with anyone where they feel they can get away with it. The style of dress makes no difference really to the molester. They may claim she dressed like she wanted it but in reality, they molest because they want it. Cat calling really doesn't fit well into the abuse category. More bad manors or disrespect of the females. Women have walked around NY topless or fully naked prior to ordinances banning it and the worst they got was hundreds of people taking their picture. So, does that mean the even less you wear protects you from the bad mannered?

    That's your 12th grade students. What a shame. How have they been taught? Here in the very South of Sumatra I would bet almost all have.
    [COLOR=#333333][FONT=Verdana]Some love to milk Apostate.[/FONT][/COLOR]

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    • #3
      Obviously when a man tells a woman in the street "I lick pussy" and follows her for three blocks that is obscene and is definitely classed as inappropriate behavior or sexual harassment. But when a man whistles or says "hi beautiful, hey Baby etc." I really cant help but feel this doesn't really come under the heading of harassment. Yes I can see how it could be annoying after the 25th time but surely to categorize this as "harassment" I think is going to the extremes. Especially as its part of the human courtship game.

      Another point to note is where is she walking ?? It looks like a bit of a downtown shit hole, notice how most of the guys in the film are black ?? (well someone had to say it) I would like to see the experiment conducted somewhere like Tribeca where the males in question would be mostly white middle class. Would the results be different I wonder ?? When she dons the Hijab again she is in a cosmopolitan downtown area, it would be a more valid experiment I feel to have her parade around in suburban Long Island to gauge the reaction in a different social setting.

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      • #4
        This being NYC, you know, the city where the twin towers were, does it cross anybody's mind that dressing in hijab probably deflates any interest people have in you?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Nimbus View Post
          This being NYC, you know, the city where the twin towers were, does it cross anybody's mind that dressing in hijab probably deflates any interest people have in you?
          I don't see why it would make any difference because of the twin towers. Of course you might get the ignorant/uneducated few, as you do in every country.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by fastpitch17 View Post
            Dan, while I think catcalling is a form of harassment, is it not considered by men in such places as NY as a sign of approval? I doubt the cat callers are the physical molesters though. At the same time do you think the cat callers figured they were just wasting their time on one in a jilbab?
            It doesn't really matter what some dudes hanging out at a bodega think about it being a form of harassment or praise: it matters how the woman receives that attention and how she feels about it. And yeah, they probably saw her the same way they see a nun. The association most men, at least in America, have with the jilbab is that the woman is observant and unlikely to be receptive to their attentions.

            Originally posted by fastpitch17 View Post
            I would guess physical abusers would be more attracted to the challenge of abusing one in a jilbab but they prefer the easiest target available or basically, they prefer a place with anyone where they feel they can get away with it. The style of dress makes no difference really to the molester. They may claim she dressed like she wanted it but in reality, they molest because they want it. Cat calling really doesn't fit well into the abuse category. More bad manors or disrespect of the females. Women have walked around NY topless or fully naked prior to ordinances banning it and the worst they got was hundreds of people taking their picture. So, does that mean the even less you wear protects you from the bad mannered?
            The video exists as very limited evidence that dressing provocatively receives more attention, possibly unwanted. I don't know that I want to say that dressing a certain way protects you. It certainly establishes that you hold certain values. It certainly lets others know you probably wouldn't want their affections. It may, in some cases, bring about other kinds of harassment or vindictive assaults (see women in hijab, haredim, sikhs etc).

            Originally posted by fastpitch17 View Post
            That's your 12th grade students. What a shame. How have they been taught? Here in the very South of Sumatra I would bet almost all have.
            A lot of it is regional, Aceh tends to encourage Islam's approval of sexual segregation. I don't think it's healthy for those boys to not know how to talk to women, both for their romantic prospects and their interactions with women in everyday life. Still, I can very firmly state that teen pregnancy is rare there, that kids aren't having kids. I think there's a happy medium between the two extremes, one that hinges on respect for women.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by ScooterIndo View Post
              Obviously when a man tells a woman in the street "I lick pussy" and follows her for three blocks that is obscene and is definitely classed as inappropriate behavior or sexual harassment. But when a man whistles or says "hi beautiful, hey Baby etc." I really cant help but feel this doesn't really come under the heading of harassment. Yes I can see how it could be annoying after the 25th time but surely to categorize this as "harassment" I think is going to the extremes. Especially as its part of the human courtship game.
              I have to wonder how effective it really is. I think it's very effective when dealing with vulnerable women, especially young girls. They're receiving attention and perhaps that's flattering and in some cases it can lead to the results the men are seeking. But my experience with women, yours may vary, is that they find this sort of behavior crude, obnoxious and often threatening. Isn't it so much easier to attract a woman with a real conversation rather than a one-way display of crash and burn?

              Originally posted by ScooterIndo View Post
              Another point to note is where is she walking ?? It looks like a bit of a downtown shit hole, notice how most of the guys in the film are black ?? (well someone had to say it) I would like to see the experiment conducted somewhere like Tribeca where the males in question would be mostly white middle class. Would the results be different I wonder ?? When she dons the Hijab again she is in a cosmopolitan downtown area, it would be a more valid experiment I feel to have her parade around in suburban Long Island to gauge the reaction in a different social setting.
              This was noted by observers of the original 10-hour walk video, and was zero surprise to average Americans. Of course, it was considered *racist* that so few white men participated in the catcalling or that it was perhaps even *cultural*.
              Last edited by DanInAceh; 14-11-14, 11:37.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Nimbus View Post
                This being NYC, you know, the city where the twin towers were, does it cross anybody's mind that dressing in hijab probably deflates any interest people have in you?
                I think that's a fair observation, but note that black Americans are also more familiar with Islam than other Americans. They represent one of the largest Muslim populations, and they often have relatives who converted to Islam. My own experience with black Americans is that they're typically more accepting of Muslims, not less. White Americans, on the other hand, ask me if I "converted in prison."

                I think the same thing would have happened if she were dressed as a haredi woman or a nun.

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                • #9
                  Scooter - what is your definition of "harassment"?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DanInAceh View Post
                    I have to wonder how effective it really is. I think it's very effective when dealing with vulnerable women, especially young girls. They're receiving attention and perhaps that's flattering and in some cases it can lead to the results the men are seeking. But my experience with women, yours may vary, is that they find this sort of behavior crude, obnoxious and often threatening. Isn't it so much easier to attract a woman with a real conversation rather than a one-way display of crash and burn?
                    Dan, while these guys are definitely rude and crude, they are not so stupid to think their cat calls are going to get some girl to turn around and hurry to get on their knees in front of them. If they get a smile they beat on their chest. If someone gives them the finger they beat on their chest. Yes, they love reaction but they don't expect the impossible.
                    [COLOR=#333333][FONT=Verdana]Some love to milk Apostate.[/FONT][/COLOR]

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                    • #11
                      Looks like there was a difference in the amount of attention the lady received, and that makes sense, but I do have one more comment about the method, other than the ones listed above (location, time, culture/religion).
                      Excuse me, but the lady in the video is a "fairly well endowed exotic type". I'm not saying she's the hottest girl in the city, but I don't think she's your average girl... even in NYC. I guess she's Asian, which is like 10% of the population. Males seem to be attracted to anything out of the ordinary... (sorry for the generalization)

                      I tend to wonder if you'd get the same results with a more average NYC female (European ancestry(45%), heavier than the girl in the video (overweight(34%) or obese (22%)). Seems like it's just a bit stacked.

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                      • #12
                        I wonder where you would find the analog location in Indonesia? Sure, she's not going through the best parts of NYC, but I think you'd have trouble finding foot traffic of a similar type in Indonesia, even in Jakarta. (please correct me if you think I'm wrong, but I think there would still be a large economic/education gap between the people hanging out on the street corners in this video and the ones hanging out on the street corners in Jakarta... Doesn't feel right to say it, I just think it's true.)

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Happyman View Post
                          I tend to wonder if you'd get the same results with a more average NYC female (European ancestry(45%), heavier than the girl in the video (overweight(34%) or obese (22%)). Seems like it's just a bit stacked.
                          Women have no control over their ancestry or age, and little to no practical control over their breast size or how attractive their features are considered. What difference does it make if she was "well endowed" or "exotic"? ALL women ought to be able to walk on the streets without receiving unwanted intrusions, not just the ugly ones. Perhaps I'm not reading your comments correctly, but it seems to me that you are saying is "well, this would not be a problem if she weren't so darned attractive!" I disagree that we should discount the behavior of the men around her on that basis.

                          "Walking while attractive" should not be considered an invitation to leer, any more than "driving while black" should be considered a crime.
                          Last edited by Puspawarna; 14-11-14, 18:06.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DanInAceh View Post
                            A lot of it is regional, Aceh tends to encourage Islam's approval of sexual segregation. I don't think it's healthy for those boys to not know how to talk to women, both for their romantic prospects and their interactions with women in everyday life. Still, I can very firmly state that teen pregnancy is rare there, that kids aren't having kids. I think there's a happy medium between the two extremes, one that hinges on respect for women.
                            The first year I was here, I had a young colleague, a P.E. teacher, from Aceh (sekitar Lhokseumawe, I believe). He was around 22 or 23 at the time, I think, and was a very bright, articulate, and generally confident, self-assured guy. As the year went on I noted that his attitudes towards women were somewhat ... "provincial" and when it came to relations / conversations with or about women, a sort of petulant brashness seemed to emerge in contrast to his normal, unaffected and generally confident manner.

                            On a few occasions I heard him say things about or to women in general or specifically that I thought went a bit past immature, to be bordering on misogynistic. These included fumbling and clumsy attempts at "pick-up lines" or half-serious invitations towards berpacaran or main-main, which, when rebuffed, on at least one occasion led to him calling one of the young women in question "stupid" (in her presence, and within hearing of several people) as well as a few other things I'm probably better off having forgotten.

                            I was more than a bit put off by seeing this behavior from him, particularly in the light of his very public pride in being a punctually observant Muslim ("pray on-the-dot and on-the-spot"). I did understand intuitively that a lot of this attitude was culturally learned, but to me it indicated a sort of painting-by-numbers approach to life and religion. What good, I thought (and still think) is knowing the Qur'an and praying punctually and uh, religiously five times each day, if it does not lead to tangible results, which would hopefully include a wiser, more enlightened attitude towards the opposite sex, as well as a more self-honest, humble and charitable heart? That is, without apparent progress in terms of developing rahmat in oneself and in terms of personal jihad, what good is "perfection" in the trappings of religion?

                            I would guess that the assessment given above could quite legitimately be claimed, in turn, to be overly harsh, and an illustration of my own profound imperfections (to which I will readily admit). He was, and still is, a very young man. I would hope that a few more years and some positive experience with the other sex might have mellowed his 'tude. If not, well, he's probably gonna be single for awhile. But as you indicate above, it's the segregation and lack of social contact / context for socializing with girls that will inevitably lead to poor emotional health as well as lack of confidence in this regard (not that unhealthy attitudes towards girls and women are not a problem in the West, obviously).
                            [FONT=Comic Sans MS]Warden: "What we got here ... is failure to communicate."

                            The Dude: "Oh yeah? Well that's just, like, your opinion, man."[/FONT]

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                            • #15
                              Hmm, I can't really say whether catcalling ((is this catcalling?) whistling, saying things like hey girl, pretty girl, may I know your name, etc?) is a form of harassment (harassment: I checked the Oxford Dictionary), but I'd say that it can be annoying at times. I experienced that no matter how I dress, modest, modern, etc. or when I have make up on or not, and of course depending on what kind of neighborhood I'm around. Like two days ago, surprisingly (I've been to Citos countless times, walked in the parking area where there are usually many men around, but had this happened just once), while I was walking in the car park at Citos, a man said 'Hai kamu cantik' as he walked from the opposite direction.

                              But then this is Indonesia and the men are familiar with hijab-wearing women in various kind of clothing/hijab styles. I guess that's why they don't really 'care' whether the woman wears hijab or not, they'll still do it anyway.

                              I saw similar video, http://sfglobe.com/?id=17289&src=fbfan_17289 I read the comments and I find it interesting -how people define what those men do on the video, whether it is harassment or not-.
                              Last edited by whatever; 14-11-14, 20:39.

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