Saturday, 26 June 2010

SATC and the Arab/Moslem woman

Another day and another opinion piece on the film Sex And The City2. By now, we’ve read everything from Andrew O’ Hagan’s  “this is the most stupid thing I’ve seen all year” in London’s Evening Standard to US commentators’ “fashion fascism” reviews and my latest read: an opinion piece by Wajahat Ali, a Muslim American writer, branding the movie “imperialistic” and an insult to Muslim women.

All of these reviews make valid points that echo many people’s thoughts, but at the same time, isn’t this a little too easy? ( and I’m talking here in specific about Wajahat’s opinion). Jumping to call this movie an insult to Muslim women and putting the world “imperialist” against it because it’s American is by itself a bigger cliché than anything in that movie.

As a Lebanese Muslim woman who has spent more than 13 years in the UAE and Kuwait (and loved every minute of it); I did feel the bite of the SATC ladies’ criticism of my culture, but I cannot say that it’s unfounded. Sure, not all of us are silenced or hidden behind veils but many are, and we need to accept that other cultures will have an opinion just like we have an opinion on their way of life.

Yes, SATC2 producers could have done their homework better: they used wrong colloquial as UAE dialect (as well as Hindi and Punjabi as Wajahat pointed out), missed important wardrobe details etc, but to me taking Carrie and Co - the symbol of glamorous strong western women- to the UAE and having them compare themselves to Moslem/Arab women is by itself a good thing: a debate opener and the fact that we (Arab/Moslem) women, and definitely the UAE ARE on the international map and here to stay. If we have to take a bit of criticism as we carve a bigger niche for ourselves in the global consciousness, so be it. If we’re smart, we can use this visibility as a platform to tell people more about ourselves and break down the fear that extremists on both sides have built.

A big thing for me were Carrie’s remarks about the woman in the “modern” Abaya + her VO when the women in the souk take off their clothes and “hundreds of years of tradition”  to reveal “this season’s Louis Vuitton” collection. I see why this sentence launched a thousand “fashion fascism” comments, but the positive undertone is right there: beyond the shallow layers, we have a lot more in common than meets the eye.

And let’s not forget: this is only a movie, a comedy and those who’ve ever watched the series or the first film know that the franchise can be accused of stigmatizing everyone, especially manhanites.

No comments:

Post a Comment