Democracy: cheap and easy in a burka

“Wickedly subversive commentator” Mary Beard blogs as resident don (donna?) for the Times Online. In today’s column, she shares on the response she’s been giving to folks when they ask her what she thinks about the lot of women in Sudan. Well, not really — who has the time to take it all in when visiting a place for only a few days? So rather than making a report on females in Sudanese society, she passes “professional verdict” on Islamic dress. Fashion is as good as sociology in a pinch, in’t it? She writes:

There are some who wear burkas, most simply wear long skirts and long sleeves. This was the costume I adopted — not much flesh exposed, but no aggressive concealment. It only took a day before I rather relished the democracy (and the colour coded fun) of this kind of attire. It was great for a 54-year-old woman like me, and in fact a relief not to have to walk through the streets of Khartoum, confronted (as you are in Cambridge) with posses of 16-year-old size 8s, displaying their thighs and belly buttons (pierced).

She means Cambridge, UK, of course — a regular catwalk of tawdrish immodesty — but the same surely holds here in Mass. How excellent that Beard was able to relish the fabric democracy of Sudan, without having to suffer disenfranchisement and genital mutilation. If only all women in Sudan enjoyed the same luxury.

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