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March 22, 2006

Under One Sky

Muslim women challenging conservative Islam by engaging in activities traditionally reserved for men; and simultaneously challenging conservative North American ethnocentrism by wearing the veil.

Is the hajib only/always about ideology?

Themes: freedom (what to wear, when, how), gender, and identity. The feeling isn't against 'the West', but it is about cultural imperialism: when the West tries to assert that it is a 'neutral' culture.

Posted by Steph at March 22, 2006 8:10 PM


i found this movie very interesting. i understand that overseas it is their belief to wear the veil all the time, but coming west to america they were coming to a country of freedom. if they felt the veil wasnt completely necessary to show who they are and keep their religion i believe it is completely their choice, not someone else's to tell them how to dress. they also shouldnt feel pressured to have to take the veil off in america, in fear of violence or even being looked at differently, its a choice to wear it or not. i was fasicinated at the end when one of the girls chose to take her veil off becuase she did not think it was necessary in discovering her true self.

Posted by: Caitlyn at March 23, 2006 4:51 PM

In this day and age when someone asks me to think about the Middle East, I am immediately brought to a dark and uncomfortable place of conflict and contempt. There are vivid images of war, hostility and religious and cultural unrest that seem to be hitting uncomfortably closer to home every day.
These are the images I have, not because I have been to any of these places or experienced any of these things first hand, but because this is what I, and millions of Americans are being shown in the cultural forum by television, radio, magazines and film. So, when I see a woman donning a Hijab, or veil as it is commonly known in the west…I think of the Middle East…and all of those images come rushing in.
As I watched Under One Sky, it was made clear by these young Arab women that they are very aware of this discomfort that I, and many others experience due to these social stereotypes. I am reminded of Stuart Hall’s lecture on Race, the Floating Signifier where he addresses this very issue as an example of race representation. Hall states that appearance itself is a language that is communicated within our society and the messages that are delivered are deciphered according to history. We classify images and relate them to our own personal experiences.
Fortunately this film has in many ways allowed me to break down some of these patterns of bias. I witnessed a group of strong, independent, socially literate woman that were very educated and outspoken about the prejudices that exist within our world. These women sought to break down the broad perception that they are inferior, oppressed, uneducated and asexual beings; that they have no opinion or voice. The canalization of public perception prevents us from identifying veiled Middle Eastern woman as vibrant and passionate individuals.

Posted by: Alan at March 23, 2006 10:15 PM

I totally agree. It should be their choice. I can see the fear of violence whether they wear the veil or not. However we were founded on a freedom of religion and it is their religious belief that they are protected with it.

I'm not sure it's always about ideology. It began as a reliogous protection.

I think Imperialism is a bigger issue here. The hajib is also a sign of the country they are from. I think not waering it threatens others from that area and wearing it threatens many Americans

Posted by: Heidi at March 24, 2006 3:28 PM

after watching the movie, seeing the Muslim women living in america, proud to be free, be here and be who they are, and still embracing their culture, it just seems to me like they dont even care what anyone else thinks. but in a good way, the one woman in the video at the end said something about people get scorned for wearing it (reguarding the incidences in canada) and some are getting in even more serious trouble for not wearing it, she said I am here in america, i am free and it is my choice to wear or not to wear, it is not up to her to worried about who else can or cannot wear the veil. (she didnt say it like that, it was better, the point she made, i just cant think of it) i think that on one hand, good for her for being able to say she has the choice, and she still will be proud to be Muslim, but on the other hand, should she be concerned with the Muslim women not living in free america and dont have the choice? its hard for me to think about her being proud to be a free muslim in america and be proud of who she is when she knows that back at home women are made to wear it...its just makes you wonder i guess.

Posted by: Jen S at March 24, 2006 10:19 PM

I was torn with this movie. It was good to see that women from other back grounds and cultures are standing up for themselves but at the same time how they were criticizing people her in america and how some people dress is sort of contradicting what they were for. They were all about how some people feel thy dress differently and how it is there choice, but at the same time they were saying how some people dress is wrong. I understand that some women want to wear the veil and other dont feel it necessary, but i guess im just confused about why its worn etc, traditions? laws? culture? its all just ver complicated and i personally could never understand how someone could live their life by being told what to do. I guess i just grew up with more freedom of choices, which is what america is...sometimes.

Posted by: allison at March 27, 2006 11:17 PM

A little late to the conversation, but I still am dying to ask this question. Like Caitlyn's post mentions, what was the message when the girls at the end were interviewed after the whole movie was unfolded.
The entire film I was learning about this veil, and why it was being used by these girls despite the negative and sometimes very hateful feedback. I felt the girls' pride for being strong, and fighting this imperialism they feel in the US that makes everyone uniform, and one way. I got a sense of how strongly their sense of belonging was within their religion and their nationality and their gender. The veil was more than a piece of clothing to them, it was a way to represent their positions and their way of life, their independence.
But then at the end of the movie, when we feel this individuality and this strong stance that these girls have made on the topic of fighting the imperialism and embracing their religion despite their location, we meet the girls one final time. At this point on of the girls is no longer wearing it. And I sat in my chair and it was hard for me to listen to her. I was almost aggravated with her, because it seemed to be contraditing what she had said. Why was it that this veil that had meant so much, and then was suddenly not important? I realize she said she didnt need it to find out who she was, but she needed it in the first place? Or was she just checking? Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I'd really be interested if someone could tell me what they thought on this ending, because I really found it hard to even listen to what she was saying, because I was under this mindset that thought she had just given up, that she had been influenced by everyone that thought she shouldn't have been wearing the veil. Any thoughts?

Posted by: Chantel at April 4, 2006 10:45 AM

Also, a little late to the conversation, but the majority of my opinion would go along with what Allison is sayin about the women being a little contradicting. I can understand where they are coming from with obeying their religion, laws and beliefs. I also give these women alot of credit for abiding my them most of the time. I know that I am a very opinionated person, and whether it be because it was the way I was brought up or otherwise, I could not see myself following all the "rules" these women do. I almost want to feel bad for them when they come to the West (American) from the East, due to the fear of violence they endure, but I also want to blame them for some of the violence that is acted out. When we saw the clip of the women argueing with them men (in the station?), they were getting hostile with their own people. You could see how the women wanted to defend their rights to wear the veil or not, but why start conflict with their men? The hostility must be hard to surpress in their homeland, I am sure, which is most likely why it comes across to anger filled. I would just think that if they want to make a point they shouldn't always be on the defense.

I can understand what Heidi is saying in her post: "I think Imperialism is a bigger issue here. The hajib is also a sign of the country they are from. I think not waering it threatens others from that area and wearing it threatens many Americans". Although like I was saying before, I feel that sometimes the folks on the defense are taking the wrong actions to defend themselves. To each is own right? The land of the Free, correct?! Everyone has the 'right' to their opinion, and sometimes we tend to forget that and just think it is, Our way or the Highway... And I KNOW I am at fault of this too!

I hear where Alan is coming from when he talks about the images that pop into his head when he thinks about the Middle East. This film most definetly helped me break down stereo types and negative images that had been presented to me by many different medias. I am thankful for watching this film, because (I forget if there was a term for this and what it was), but remember when we talked about watching the Cosby show? And how White's could associate themselves with the Black character's because of the way they were presented... NOT as "black" people, but as a family 'acting' white in a way. I felt myself relating to these women and feeling their pain because I was not looking at them as MIDDLE EASTERN women, but as PEOPLE with feelings and emotions. I am glad I got to see this!

Posted by: Nikki at April 6, 2006 10:38 AM

I agree with everyone that said that the women being contradicting. I do understand how they want to follow their own beliefs, religion and the law. I know how hard it is to stand on your own two feet when it comes to having a religion that not everyone approves of. When I recently got married I had to go to many classes for my husband was Catholic and I was a Prodistent. I felt degraded at these classes for I was the one that was different and all that I wanted to do was marry the man of my dreams. I was now following the rules of a different religion and I felt that there was a lot of preasure. There are some things that I look at and I think of very differently for I was not brought up a Catholic. From this I am not able to follow all the rules like the girls did in the movie.

I feel bad for the women in the video for they are just trying to do what they think is right and becasue of the violence problems that we have in some areas these women many run into many torments along their journey. However I do ask myself if some of the violence is related to these women being too persistant on things. I thought the when the women were fighting with the men, things were getting a little to out of hand for the issue. All the women wanted to do was defend thier rights but I think that it should only go so far. Some things are just not worth fighting over.

I see where Alan is coming from whe he talked about the images in his head when he thinks about the Middle East. There are so many stereotype in this world and I feel that we get wrapped up in these stereotypes. We see stereotypes on the street, magazines, movies, shows and at out jobs. Now you would think that seeing all this happen around us we would be mad about it and want a change but this isn't the case. There are so many people that just care about what they are doing and not what others are suffering of. I am not saying that this is how all people are but we could change things easier if we all worked together.

I agree with Caitlyn when she says " if they felt the veil wasn't completely neccessary to show who they are and keep their religion I believe it is completely their choice, not someone else's to tell them how to dress." They did not to a different country and they are fully aware that things are different her but that should not stop them form living their lives. I thought that it was great that one woman took the veil off and said that she did not need to wear it anymore to know who she was. I think that this is great that she stands up for herself and she did not take it off for all the presseure that she was getting when she was wearing it. The woman said that she has felt better without wearing it for now she can consintrate on her life and how she wants it and not the violence that she will run into.

I completely agree with Heidi when she said that "Imperialism is a bigger issue. The hajib is also a sign of the country they are from. I think wearing it threatens others from that area and wearing it threatens many Americans." Some people take things way to far. People just need to leave others alone and let everyone live their lives. Aren't we supposed to live in freedom, that does include speech. However I do think that there is a line to this. I also agree with Heidi on the fact that "we were founded on a freedom of religion and it is their belief that they are protected with it.

I also agree with Chantel on the fact that the women were being strong, fighting this imperialism they feel in the US that makes everyone uniform and one way." We so many times get told how to act, speak, dress and how to run our lives, but when do we get to really pick on how we want our lives to be held. I understood that the women thought that the veil was more than a peice of clothing to them, it was a way to respect their positions and their way of life. People need to have some independence in their lives and it is very important for people to know they have the righ of independence. It is your life and no one elses, they are living a different life than yours.

Posted by: Kaylee at April 8, 2006 2:24 PM

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