Apparently, veiling is bad. Or at least, that’s what many of the comments on Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom‘s coverage of the 1st annual Covered in Light Day let on. It also seemed to me a minor negation of this post about Pagan “fundamentalism”. This is what I get for actually spending time over at Patheos, I guess.
Back to veiling, though.
As an Arabic linguist and analyst who extensively covered Mid-East politics, culture, and religion, as well as living a mere 6 miles from Dearborn, MI (the largest concentration of Arabs outside the Middle East, where the show All American Muslim is filmed), I’ve encountered veiling. A lot. I have to say, I’m really quite attracted to a woman in a veil, but then those that veil, in my experience are generally the nice, quiet religious types I usually go for (my girlfriend is a practicing Catholic). Never have I met a woman who veils because she was forced to. Yes, I have seen news reports about the rare incident of this happening, but those reports generally accompany news of honor killings and family dysfunction.
It is interesting that a simple, non-intrusive personal practice can get people so riled up, but I guess when you touch that one little nerve, some folks just go off. Maybe it’s a liberal versus conservative fight, though that just seems too simple, like a cop-out answer. Maybe it’s a traditionalist versus progressive fight, but even then, that boils down to essentially the same thing as the previous argument.
Either way, I feel that veiling has a valuable place in our pagan culture. In my mind at least, it conjures up a romanticized notion that the veiled woman is taken, if not in marriage than by her god or goddess. Is it submission? Maybe. I also view it as armor. It is an aspis against the world, a safe-haven for one’s peace of mind. There’s also a certain class to the veil. Something that says, “I don’t need to show off my body”. In this world where sex sells everything, it’s kind of nice to see someone who consciously avoids flaunting it.
And you know what, covering up isn’t just for women. For a very long time, gentlemen wouldn’t be caught dead outside without some form of hat. This tradition is maintained in the military, where one never removes their cover (headgear)outside, except for where doing so might be dangerous, such as on a flight line. I myself prefer to at least wear a hat when I wear a suit, whether it be my fedora (a real one, such as those worn in the 50′s) or, for very special occasions, my top hat. Truth be told, I own more hats than shoes, and not a single one is a baseball cap.
The whole hubub reminds me of one of my favorite scenes in the Seven Against Thebes. On the shield (an aspis/hoplon) of Polyneices, a veiled Dike leads Ares, clad in gold armor. This leads Eteocles to realize his father’s curse is finally upon him– he must now kill his brother, as Justice brings the curse of War to his gate. Doesn’t sound like oppression to me (at least for Dike).
Anyway, to make this long rambling short, Aspis of Ares supports Covered in Light day, and this warrior will be glad to relieve the role of Dike, and stand before the van in defense of those women, Pagan or otherwise, who choose to don the veil.