Am I a judgmental prick?

(for this particular episode, not in general, just to head off the wiseasses at the pass) :slight_smile:

I was driving past the Galleria, a very large and very upscale shopping mall here in Houston, on my way home from work yesterday. At a red light, a group of people walked in front of me on their way into the mall. There were two men, wearing khaki chinos and polo shirts, who looked to be Middle Eastern and in their 30s or 40s. There were two women with them, both pushing strollers - one woman had a single stroller and the other had a tandem stroller. The women were wearing black robes that covered them from head to foot, all the way to the wrists and ankles, as well as black headdresses that left nothing of the face exposed except for their eyes. For reference, it was blazingly, swelteringly hot yesterday, as is usually the case in July in Houston.

I was instantly furious. For as pissed as I was, the women might as well have been wearing leg irons. I assumed (and I’m open to other likely interpretations) that these people belonged to a Muslim sect that requires women to be covered in public. Just seeing the women bundled up under black cloth in miserable heat, hidden from view, while their (presumably) husbands and kids strolled or rode in khakis and short pants, drove me nuts.

It reminded me of when I used to live in Utah and the polygamists would come into town, to go to the Costco, the public pool or the mini-golf course. The men and boys would all be wearing khakis and polos, and the girls and women would all be wearing awful homemade pioneer dresses that came to the wrist and ankle and would have looked at home in a Little House on the Prairie rerun. I actually remember one time at a water park where the girls tromped around in those dresses (not riding any of the attractions, obviously) while the boys wore swimming suits and appeared to have a blast.

So am I an judgmental prick for wanting to conk these people in the head? (The women as well as the men!) Do I just need to learn to be more tolerant of different religions and cultures? I either need to be validated here, or have my head straightened out. Help?

I share your sentiment.

Judgemental, yes. As to who’s the prick, that’s a matter of opinion, but I have no sympathy for treating women as property and/or inferior beings, which is what I see behind what you’ve described.

I dunno…I’d suggest being more tolerant. Unless you know for a fact that these women were dressing like this completely against their will then I would think “this is America, they can choose to - or choose NOT to - practice their religion however they want.”

There’s a character in the awesomely awesome Canadian TV show “Little Mosque on the Prairie” who is a woman, a doctor and a Muslim. She calls herself a “feminist Muslim” and she PREFERS to keep her head covered. It’s completely her choice, too. Her dad does not make her do it (she is not married).

The women could very likely interpret their religious beliefs in a way that it is a show of their own pride/control of their own bodies to be completely covered.

I’d think the same applies to the LDS women you saw, too.

I felt the same way when I saw a teenaged orthodox Jewish boy, mowing his lawn on a hot summer day in a full black suit, hat, etc.

Then it occurred to me that turbans look heavy and cumbersome to me (but I’m not a hat wearer so most headwear does).

And even my own high heels and panthyhose are bizarrely impractical at best and dangerous at worst.

So I decided to just mind my own business.

Which I did as well, but it didn’t stop the little volcano from erupting between my ears. :mad:

It depends. As noted above, there are a number of muslim women that choose to wear the outfit. But from a quick look like that, you have no way of knowing if they do it because they choose to or if they are being forced.

I would probably have a similar reaction to yours, but remind myself that I don’t know the whole story.

Post deleted - spilled my heart a bit too much.

Your reaction strikes me as a tad intolerant. I mean, I have the same opinion that you do about how women should be allowed to dress, but that’s because of the culture I’ve grown up in. I don’t see anything inherently oppressive about a culture where women are normally covered (as long as they have the usual civil rights and are not mistreated).

Personally, I’d like to hear more about this bizarrely impractical dress code. :wink:

I can kind of see where you’re coming from here, but to me, “the usual civil rights” would include the right to see and be seen face to face. The whole covering-up thing feels very repressive to me.

In general I have a low opinion of orthodoxy and people who take religious ritualism to the extreme.

Am I judgmental? Perhaps. I don’t feel guilty because my snootiness is so all-encompassing, and includes people of my OWN religion.

It’s just my opinion that if a supreme being exists his highest priority in life isn’t measuring skirt lengths or figuring out whether you don’t eat beef, or whatever prohibitions are out there to be cooked up. Those customs are for humans, to distinguish themselves from others. That’s fine, but it’s also fine that I raise an eyebrow at it*.

*I follow some of these myself but I don’t delude myself that the gods are watching me over my shoulder giving me negative karma points on ignoring the fact that McDonald’s fries are made with beef tallow. B+ effort, you guys, it’s good enough.

As long as you didn’t do something jerkish, like go over and start lecturing them or something, I don’t see a problem. You don’t have to like or approve of other people’s choices.

Well sure, it does to me too, but that’s not our culture. Does it feel repressive to those women? Maybe; but just as likely they consider it normal or even are proud of it. My point is that you can’t tell by watching them cross the street in front of your car. I guess if I knew the women were beaten or locked in the house during the day I’d be outraged, but I don’t have enough information here to be upset.

I actually kind of admire people who embrace religious or cultural dress or rituals that set them apart. If the women are doing this willingly, I think it’s great. If it’s forced, not so much, but we don’t know the story here.

Autumn Almanac is right, there’s nothing prickish about thinking what you did. But there are so many horrible people in this world, I’m a little surprised at how mad you got. I mean, you don’t necessarily know that these women were forced into anything. And I think the leg irons comparision is a little extreme, like cowgirl said, its not like all western clothing is the last word in comfort and practicality.

I am with you on the waterpark story, though. Adults can understand forgoing instant gratification, but to keep a little girl out of the waterslides just seems mean.

I had a friend who converted to Islam a year or two after she left grad school. I certainly never noticed this before, but apparently I am quite the hugger, handshaker… and every time this friend of mine and I saw each other that weekend, she recoiled like I smelled bad. She never explained what was going on, but I figured that she wasn’t allowed to touch men, or non-Muslim men, or married men, or something. (Of course, I would have appreciated her telling me this was what was going on.)

That bothered me, because it’s how we had always greeted each other. It would be one thing if from the first day we met that I knew that was the case. It was such a weird experience that to this day I am very standoffish when I interact with Muslim women with a hijab. But I have Muslim friends who I hug or shake hands with, male and female, so I know it’s not a universal thing.

The situation the OP described - there is so much unknown about the women, and their situation, that it seems a little ridiculous to give it much thought beyond “I’ll bet they’re hot.” Even that’s not a definite statement. They might be perfectly comfortable. And to other people, we might look ridiculously covered up ourselves. Imagine people in Micronesia observing Westerners in short pants, shoes, and shirts - they probably look at us and think the exact same thing.

Live and let live. Now, if it’s something that bothers you, why not strike up a conversation and learn about what those women’s perspectives are, exactly? I don’t think it’s stop-someone-in-the-street and interrogate them type of question, but if you have a friend who wears a hijab or something similar, I’d ask her for a perspective. Or read up on women’s views on wearing hijab. (Warning: do not try to befriend someone just so you can ask the question. That’s a little creepy.)

But, that’s the whole reason why they wear…ohhhh. Nevermind.

Um. Well, yes, if you want an honest opinion. But not so much as long as you kept it to yourself and didn’t act on your irrational hatred of what you don’t understand. :slight_smile:

As so many others have already said, you have no facts beyond what they were wearing on one occassion when you happened to see them. How does this justify you being ‘instantly furious’? You don’t know for certain what’s going on.

In this country, especially, there’s plenty of help available to anyone who wants ‘out’ of their current arrangement, whatever it may be. So I would say, mind yer own beeswax. :slight_smile:

Side note: have you ever worn dark robes in the heat? I grew up in the desert, and lemme tell ya something: they’re more comfortable than you think. I don’t know if it’s because of convection currents (which is the psuedo-scientific answer I got when I asked the question of my fourth-grade teacher) or what, but I prefer dark, baggy clothing when I’m out in the heat. So, the point is, those women may very well have been chortling to themselves at how comfortable they were while their husbands/fathers roasted in the sun.

Filthy infidel. :wink:

Mmm, filthy infidelity…