For many years, as an English teacher, I have been studying the VEILED female students enrolled at the Georgia Tech Language Institute where I taught for close to two decades. In recent years as these VEILED women from different countries (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, etc.) gathered on couches outside my office door to study, eat lunch, and converse with one another or appeared as dedicated lionesque students in my classes, my curiosity about who they might be diminished. Because....
They seemed to be women like me and other international female students but draped in VEILS.
What does the VEIL mean to me? What does it mean to these women from the Middle Eastern countries wearing VEILS as they attend classes in Atlanta, Georgia? I'm no longer sure. I do know that the "alienness" of their VEILS has worn off.
Familiarity of the VEILS had caused me to stop drawing women in VEILS. I wonder even now if the VEIL has lost its impact on us here in this southern cosmopolitan city just as any new trending fashion becomes outdated with time.
Time! Just this week, I have read several graphic novels written and drawn by Marjane Satrapi. Her book Persepolis, an autobiography of her childhood in Iran beginning in 1979, was awarded as part of the "Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys." I have yet to read Persepolis (Part 2), where Marjane depicts her life outside of Iran, exploring and trying on different identities in Western Europe. However, in the first book, she illustrates her response to the introduction of the VEIL in her life:
|REACTIONS TO THE INTRODUCTION TO THE VEIL. (from Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis)|
|ADAPTING TO THE VEIL. (from Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis)|
|RITUAL BEING ENACTED IN THE VEIL AT SCHOOL. (from Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis)|
|BEING PUNISHED FOR INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR IN THE VEIL. (from Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis)|
What value does the VEIL have to me as a Western onlooker? I love the fabric, the ability to conceal and cover oneself if desired. I love the symbolic value of being able to "uncover" to "unveil." Think of being given the rhythm within a day as to when you "reveal" youself and when you "hide." I have heard my students speak of this practice with a reserved delight. They get to choose who is invited to "see" and "observe" them. WOW! That's powerful.
Dear reader, I know that I have not gone into the religious reasons for why women wear the VEIL Don't you already know it? I have no strong opinion about the VEIL--only CURIOSITY!
That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me what the VEIL means to you.
|CURIOSITY. (art by Hallelujah Truth)|