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23 September, 2005

Only skin deep

A frustrating dichotomy between "East" (meaning here perhaps "Gulf citizen") and "West" involves the perception of skin/flesh. Take two examples:

1. A woman wearing a loose, short, strappy sundress on a hot summer's day. Her legs and shoulders are bare, she has no make up on, her hair is casually-styled. She wears sandals or flip flops on her feet.

2. A woman wearing a body-hugging, long-sleeved poloneck top and push-up bra on a hot summer's day. She wears long, fairly close-fitting jeans and a lot of jewellery. Her make-up is thick and her hair very processed and arranged. Her shoes are spike-heeled.

To a western person, 1. is seen as casual and "natural". It is a look that a woman of pretty much any age might wear, no matter if she is a little overweight, or rather skinny. 2. would be seen as suggestive, "try-hard" and even slutty. Outside of a night-club, the make-up, hair and heels would probably be sniggered at, by both women and men.

To an eastern person, 1. is seen as inappropriate, even disgusting and she would be accused of "flaunting" her flesh, arms and legs. There may be horror at her "mini skirt" and "beach dress" in public. Whereas 2. is seen as much more appropriately dressed, because no skin is on display. The heavy make-up and jewellery are less remarkable.

The East has many admirable values. But many of its perceptions and prejudices on women's dress and appearance are unfair and outdated: just as unfair as a western person believing that a woman in a hijab is "oppressed".

As a suggestion: any Eastern person who considers the showing of flesh horrifying, "flaunting" and disgusting should spend a few months living somewhere such as a quiet Australian seaside town. When one has lived among nice old ladies in sleeveless sundresses, women with their hair scraped-back doing their gardening in short shorts, and young girls walking to school and back each day in knee-length dresses, you soon gain a more tolerant perspective.

This is not to say that Western people shouldn't respect the culture and dress codes of Eastern people when they live in their countries: but to underline that Eastern people also need to understand that flesh isn't by default sinful, sexual and intentionally-seductive.

Labels:

97 Comments:

Blogger strangeloops said...

I should know better than to wade into this pool, but...

Standards of female attire have changed dramatically in the West, over the past 60 years. Back when my grandmother was hot, she didn't wear a dress cut above the knee, and rarely bared her shoulders in public. That's why I don't think it's fair to make this into a simple East-West thing. It's still a controversial issue in the West as well.

I don't really understand why it's such a big deal to wear more conservative clothing in public, given the local custom. I avoid wearing shorts, although it's been said that I have fantastic legs.

Have I drowned yet? :)

23 September, 2005 01:14  
Blogger secretdubai said...

east/west is, for want of better terms, modern UK/euro/US/Antipdes/SA vs Gulf/Islamic societies.

And you are right - things have changed very quickly in the West. Just over a century ago we were covering piano legs.

It might not be a big deal to wear more conservative clothes. But the idea that a woman wearing less conservative clothes is deliberately "flaunting" herself - rather than just being naive or forgetful of local custom, gets my goat.

From a religious point of view, I also have serious issues with the idea that any flesh is immoral, dirty or sinful. Regardless of anyone's religious doctrines - Christian/Hindi/Muslim/Jewish/Buddhist/whatever, I believe that flesh and our physical exteriors are inherently pure and inoffensive, and it is only the mind that can be corrupt and vile. Yes - one can flaunt one's flesh in a bad and inappropriate way - but it is not the flesh but the comportment of it that represents the offensiveness. God did not make us dirty.

I look at "primitive tribes" that cover themselves less, and they seem to me more natural and Eden-ic.

23 September, 2005 01:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello and glad ur back.

Do you mean to say that lady 1 in Cheshire Wimslow or at Harvey Nics in London or Via Condotti/Rome or 5th Av NY will not get deriding looks from the public?!?!?

Come on lady, be real!

I also would like you to put your lady 1 in context of which place was she spotted? Was it on the beach? Shopping Mall? Karama street? Where? as it does affect perception of values.

Dont ya agree?

I dare you walk in such attire in Esher or Weybridge, nevermind Dubai!

23 September, 2005 02:18  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Depends whether the Esher woman has just popped into her local supermarket in the middle of summer, or has a meeting with her bank manager in the midde of winter.

Either way, while she may look odd in a sundress in December, no one is going to think of her as "slutty" for wearing some summery hippy frock.

23 September, 2005 02:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear SD- first of all thanks for the great blog. This issue can be debated extensively as strangeloops has suggested. But consider this: societies which are more "permissive" so to speak, don't necessarily produce less pervs and deviants and mysogynists. Some of the most gruesome pornography and paedophiliac material is produced in the West. Point being that the "tolerant perspective" you want imbibe in Easterners by encouraging them to watch "young girls walking to school and back each day in knee-length dresses" doesn't mean that Jacko West next door in your Australian seaside town isn't ogling at the same innocent girls with much less than honourable intent. The problem is not one of conditioning to flesh-exposure (I agree with you that there is absolutely no justification whatsoever in labeling a strappy sundressed woman a disgusting tart). The problem lies in a basic demeaning, disrespectful attitude towards women, which encourages the gratuitious labeling of them everwhere in the world.But this crude and backward behaviour is by no means just an Eastern phenomenon! It isn't so much a conditioning issue as a general respect issue, and this cuts across cultures.

I am all for allowing women to wear what they want, but as expats we should show at least a modicum of respect for the host culture. The other day my five year old daughter asked me why a young Western lady's trousers were falling off in the City Centre Mall lift! OK fine, show your midriff but is it essential to drop your pants 4 inches below your belly button? And to be fair, this is not a Western issue per se. Arab expat girls are emulating the same styles. Let's enjoy this country's liberal environment but shouldn't we at the same time show a little respect too?

Thanks and keep up your interesting blog!

23 September, 2005 07:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dont see any law here forbidding any type of wear - so one should dress as they want to. Remember when ur going to attract tourism and foreign ownership you have to accept their way of life as well, including dressing. As a muslim in the US, i never got stares for my hijab, and i respect americans for that. Similarly I expect us ppl to respect the westerners for what they wear. the problem is that our men have dirty minds. I agree with SD, woman 2 is more slutty in my mind.

23 September, 2005 07:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon - there is nothing wrong with being dressed like that in weybridge and popping to the local shops in summer - i did it all the time!

At the end of the day, it's up to the individual what they want to wear. I just dress more conservatively because i can't stand the way these gross men gawp at you.

23 September, 2005 09:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is a question of respect. When living in Oman I liked and respected the Omani people who were all around me. I would cover up - upper arms and skirts to the knee - in Muscat and was treated with friendliness.

Visitors wearing halternecks or scanty beachtype wear were not arrested or hassled, but the Omanis, particularly the older men, did not greet them as they passed. They were embarrassed and did not want to see all that flesh.
In Dubai I wear much less. There are far fewer locals, and their behaviour and attitude - mostly experienced on the road, as it is difficult to meet locals socially - has not led me to respect them very much. I may be wrong, but this is what has happened.

23 September, 2005 09:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmmmm...to the anon writer above: it's a bit presumptuous and specious to think that just because a country desires to attract tourism and investment it would as a corollary want to also attract every aspect of foreign cultures! One should seek the positive aspects of Western civilization such as intellectual emancipation, enlightenment, literature, arts, science and technology - not just revealing clothing. Anyway SD was never trying to insinuate that it is right to show disrespect for the host country's culture. She was just drawing a comparison between types [1] and [2] and saying that 2-types are vulgar without even revealing any flesh!

The Anon writer above says that she "expect us ppl to respect the westerners for what they wear" - yes true, but not necessarily for what they or Easterners for that matter do NOT wear !!!

The pelvis revealing clothes are really pretty risque even in a Western setting and not a symbol of modernity! Nor does a lack of clothing have to be a sina qua non for tourism and investment! It even surprises kids....!!

The country should try to attract the amazing and superior things about Western civilisation. And frankly the type-2s mentioned by SD are just cheap copy-cats who think that clothes make one Western. They don't.

On a slightly different note many Western countries have strict rules about smoking in public places (banned in many) which shows respect for others especially kids. HOw about emulating this? I see total disrespect for children in our malls here. People smoke without the slightest sense of shame even when there are kids all around.

23 September, 2005 09:58  
Blogger black feline said...

strangeloops,

legs are really not the in thing here..try this.. cover up your entire upper torso including your face..yes just show your lovely legs..any wolf calls..keep us posted.

u must have something to flaunt otherwise wearing a loose pants exposing your midriff...and your g- whatever..and layers of ham..makes u a joke..pardon me..but my observations tell me most western ladies are not the petite type..wearing less only shows your shortcomings..

23 September, 2005 11:12  
Blogger AkaRound Peg said...

Interesting post and very true.

When I began working in Qatar, I went with the 'natural'look of type 1 (but was attired formally) and my Palestinian boss looked long at me and asked why I did not wear any make-up?!!

23 September, 2005 11:55  
Blogger Queen-M said...

Come on guys... as I read SD's post, the main point is NOT whether or not one is entitled to show the skin or not, but the questions she raises about the DIFFERENT MEANINGS ASCRIBED to skin, dress etc. by different cultures.

The post does an excellent job in pointing out this core problem of cross-cultural communication with reference to some very tangible examples.

And of course, the "Western" world constituted a different culture 30-40 yrs ago than it does today - just as the UAE was a different place only 15 yrs ago. No society is static (however much the traditionalists would like that to be the case), and that means that even seemingly stable phenomena undergo subtle changes. That's why generational conflicts are so common.

So let's think about how these different and culturally specific views of other phenomena (the family, the environment, penal codes, gender - including masculinity, and the relationship between humans and animals, to mention just a few) condition our interactions with the people we meet here in the UAE.

23 September, 2005 12:01  
Blogger Poshboy said...

Good point there, black feline. but you must also remember that the midriff on a lot of the western girls is shown so that everyone can see the belly ring and also the tatoo across the back...

23 September, 2005 13:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Queen-m: cross cultural communication ala tatoos on the deep anterior!!! Surely there are better ways to go about it. We all know that no society is static, that there is an inherent evolutionary dynamic in every people/nation, but it is better to evolve in a positive fashion than in a retrograde one. I think SD's notion that " flesh and our physical exteriors are inherently pure and inoffensive" is rather a maximalist position. Needless to say it is not acceptable in any part of the world, except nudist joints, to go around showing your private parts or the areas terribly close by! I know Western guys in Dubai who gawk at just about any female and their energies are focused on only one pursuit after work, and it isn't reading the works of Shakespeare. What is fundamentally flawed in SD's piece is that she makes it sound like Easterners have a hypocritical outlook on women's attire (hence they condone the tartish look but not the fleshy one). This is a convenient genralisation but I can assure you Western men aren't altogether that different.

23 September, 2005 14:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is ok for women in western cultures to wear trousers and men to wear dresses in Arab culture? If it's Ok for men to kiss each other in public -why can't men walk around Spinney's in Skirts?

23 September, 2005 14:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon: I know a Scot who does that sometimes.... haha!

People should wear what they want but somewhere a line has to be drawn (yes, pun intended!) Liberal mores are fine but trashy, superficial liberalism in the form of exposed pelvises and tatoos on the bottom is rather a crude and tacky version of emancipation

23 September, 2005 15:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon1

To avoid any undue confusion, I will call my handle Anon1 as being the first post on this thread.

While I am all out for criticism or positive comment on any culture and socio/politico behavior. I strongly resent hypocrisy. And plenty abound all over the blogs and not necessarily on this one which seems to be the most balanced.

Having said that, it is entirely rubbish in the middle of high heat to walk in Esher or Weybridge with open clothes revealing acres of skin. It will be simply frowned at and people will either avoid you or shake their head in rejection. You seem to forget the attitude of your own and treat Dubai as an everlasting holiday where all is allowed.
I revel when my GF wears a miniskirt or should I say a microskirt when we go partying in Dubai nite spots and she goes topless on the Hotel private beach, so what gives? But to go in public areas with total disregard to the local succeptibilities is simply lack of manners when especially you don't do that back home in Engerland or wherever.

So wear what you want, I will for sure look at you (if you are pretty or sexy) but don't give us skin for the sake of proving that you are a free woman when abroad and cover and cower up in your own bled.

That's for one. Now I would like to comment on the following sub-post:
"In Dubai I wear much less. There are far fewer locals, and their behavior and attitude - mostly experienced on the road, as it is difficult to meet locals socially - has not led me to respect them very much. I may be wrong, but this is what has happened."

Local people from Dubai, the Emirates or any Gulf state are exactly like other people anywhere in the world. Some are good and few are bad. In general, as with any population, the silent majority simply want to get on with their life.

Your connection with the Dubaians seems to be only with anonymous black windows cars on the ShZayed road! They might not even be Dubaians! The Dubaians I know are very decent people who opened their country to a varsity of races and cultures and who seem to do quite a good job at being fair to everybody.

I rather take the ShZayed road anytime than experience the western expats in places like the Irish Village and other pubs where the belching and vulgarity would get you arrested in London/Sydney or Paris.

So don't tell me you have no respect for Dubaians for some silly driving skills.

At least they don't go around killing and invading sovereign countries for the sake of showing their might!

We all know might is right and pubs close at 23.00hrs over the lonely island (until HMG decide otherwise).

So say hello to the tube for me and stop the hypocrisy.

23 September, 2005 15:26  
Blogger Queen-M said...

To anonymous at 14.53,

You write,
"cross cultural communication ala tatoos on the deep anterior!!!".

Well...

- SD makes no references to this aspect. It was (regrettably) introduced in the comments.

- SD compares the notion of the flesh as something impure and dangerous to the common misconception that women wearing hijab are oppressed. She thereby highlights the inherent cultural dimension, and voices her view as something that is embedded in her own culture - though a culture with which she is in a critical dialogue.

Yet, my comment was primarily intended - not as a great apologetic discouse of her post - but as a way in which the discussion could be moved beyond trite accusation of one part being fat, the other being stupid.

Unfortunately, my reaction failed to accomplish this...

23 September, 2005 15:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 1: This is anon 2,6 in anon sequence!

All to often we foreigners assume a superior, condascending view about our hosts which is really not decent of us. The locals of Dubai (and the UAE at large) are amongst the most generous and hospitable people in the world - and as you correctly point out they are hosting a kaleidoscope of nationalities in their small country - giving them tax free salaries and the benefits of a liberal, cosmopolitan environment. All too often foreigners (not just Westerners) take this for granted and act pompous. Back home many of them are pretty ordinary but here they become pretentious and cocky. You know the plumber in Brixton becomes an Engineer out here routine...before criticising our hosts lets just look into our own societies back home which are hardly utopian. And heck if the people are so unruly then there's always home to go back to where everyone drives well and people are kind!!!. No one is stopping us and for each job that is given up there are loads of people willing to come in and do our work. Foreigners (especially white westerners) have got it good here so they shouldn't be whining all the time and should show some respect.

23 September, 2005 15:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon1

Anon 2,6 (LoL)

Amen to what u say.

I think it is high time not so much to defend the Dubaians but to stop hypocritical spin on these people who in fact are a representative microcosm of any other population with it's baddies and goodies.

Let people say whatever they wish to say, as I am strongly against censorship on all levels, but let objectivism shine true and avoid obtuse attitude.

For each sad or bad Dubai rant, I can put 1k London, Paris, NY, Canberra worst rants.

Will it make me more correct, the hell it would not!

23 September, 2005 16:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Queen-M from Anon(2,6)

Yes I understand what you mean...however the idea that Easterners should take a trip to Australia to become accustomed to flesh is rather demeaning. I think I already explained that earlier...i know quite a few reckless Aussies out here who are in pursuit of flesh regardless of their heightened exposure down under (pun not intended!!)

23 September, 2005 16:19  
Anonymous abu sa3ood said...

This whole thing is stupid. Whether it's men wearing skirts or women wearing stilettos or bla bla bla...I'm a man who wears shorts all the time, and yes even I get shit for it, but there's no way in hell I'm wearing jeans in this weather to look good or acceptable. To me, that's the person who should be yelled at.

Even the people I work with wear sweaters to look more presentable, which is absolutely ludicrous. Function over form, that's what I say. If I had it my way, wearing clothes would be a choice--and don't be an idiot and say "but then everyone won't do anything but have sex" because you know it's not true. Nudity is natural; it's when you zip everything up that you create more perverts.

So wear what you want, the only reason anybody will criticize you is because they are shocked and confused by their arousal. Let them get over it, and they'll stop caring. Till then, fight the good fight, show some skin, and tell the gawkers to eat your shorts.

23 September, 2005 16:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

abu sa3ood: hmmm.. you could start a global initiative to encourage nudity - which you feel is natural (duhhh!), and be the champion exponent of it? Come on now, give it a shot. By the way walking around nude in the blazing desert sun (the "natural way") could lead to physiological changes of a permanent sort (including gender) - after which you may be compelled to revisit your hypothesis!

23 September, 2005 16:59  
Blogger secretdubai said...

the idea that Easterners should take a trip to Australia to become accustomed to flesh is rather demeaning

It's not about becoming "accustomed" to flesh, it's about experiencing a new perspective on flesh. That the vast, vast majority of women of all ages in western countries who expose their flesh do so because they like the feel of the sun/air on their skin, they like to tan their shoulders, they find it cooler and more comfortable - not because they are trying to appear sexual.

And as a result, when you live among such a society and the initial in-built cultural shock of flesh!!!!! has worn off, the connotations of sexuality also wear off. It's just a middle aged lady in a summer-vest top, not a whore flaunting her shoulders in a wicked and disgusting manner.

23 September, 2005 17:40  
Blogger black feline said...

the other day i was having my regular dip at a serene spot on jumeirah beach (open beach is terrible)...under a miserable shelter shared by 2 french men, two pakistani and a couple (from Germany, i think)...early 40s..incredibly fair complexion..a bit heavy on the bottom..i was minding my own business..then something horrifying happened..the couple took off their trunks/costumes..without batting an eyelid..rite in front of us! i guess..it's really a cultural thing...dont get me wrong im no puritan..i had my fair share of wild happenings...whatever u do...it must be in good taste

23 September, 2005 17:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon1

SD said:

"It's not about becoming "accustomed" to flesh, it's about experiencing a new perspective on flesh....they find it cooler and more comfortable."

No it aint so. It is not a "new perspective on flesh". It is simply what is socially acceptable and not your own personal comfort. I would very much like to attend a board meeting in my shorts and shades but I have to respect the attendants and abide by the decorum.
Same here. You are at the beach or in a private/public enclosure like a hotel or so, then wear what you like in the limits of respectability and not what makes you comfortable and sod the lot!

You seem to take a position that comfort supercedes culture and manners.

You also imply in your original post that Lady1 is doing no wrong and Lady2 is a tart. I don't give a monkey what each lady is as they are untitled to their own life and the way to run it.
But their liberties stop where other people liberties start and there is no Eastern values and Western values.
There is enlightened and educated values vs bigots and "we are better attitude" but hey it is OK to reject a shipload of refugees and let them drift in the seas. Hey ho we are protecting the Great Barrier reef and not want these undesirables. We are western and we are better and if we wana strip then it is OK and if someone oogles then he is a retard. And if you don't like it then we invade your country and teach you democracy the way we think it should be.

It aint so lady.

23 September, 2005 18:16  
Blogger black feline said...

poshboy,

Plu..ese! belly ring and back..side tattoo..to be precise together with showing your g string expose are fashion statements so many moons ago! Similarly I cannot comprehend ladies from the west, in particular, who are still doing the Bo Derek braided hairs till today when they are holidaying in Bali..i think it's all herd mentality. The owner of Bastikiya Art Cafe is caucasian..i believe..she's simply stunning with her islamic influenced dressing. Sheer elegance.

23 September, 2005 18:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SecretDubai: There's no denying that many women like the practical appeal of what they wear. But please don't be so credulous. Multi-billion dollar advertisting and marketing campaigns, Hollywood etc reinforce vigorously what a woman should look like. And the image portrayed isn't that of mother teresa!! Sex is prevalent in every form of advertising be it detergents or car-wax! Please don't make it sound like in the West people have risen above sexual exploitation etc because it is totally untrue. Liberal clothing does not reduce perversity; paedophilia and sexual crimes against women abound in the West from date rape to just about everything else you can think of. The so unique Western "perspective on flesh" that you keep referring to is not of much practical use when Western societies continue to exploit that very flesh to sell just about everything under the sun...come on now, get real!! This Western superiority thingy is so banal!!

23 September, 2005 18:42  
Blogger kaya said...

What you dont realise perhaps is that this place has suddenly come up.I spent 20 years growing up in Oman and have been coming to Dubai since way back then.There was a time when it was the Filipinas or Srilankan housemaids that provided any extra entertainment but then their actions were always belied by their apparel.For so may years we have had our women covered.Any movies you pick up from earlier times whatever culture or language the vamp is always portrayed as being scantily dressed.Therefore this is the stereotype seductress;woman of loose morals.
The West end was synonymous with fishnet tights and high heels tight leather skirts.And we all know what the West end was famous for.Now any music video you see has nudity and overt sexual overtones.If they dont want to be sexy they wont dress like that ergo nudity is sexy and sexy is sexual.Obviosly u dont look sexy to make chappatis.
Now for centuries we have not had the freedom to display our bodies,and it was a thing that only HIGH SOCIETY ladies did alongwith smoking drinking and adultery.All these things are synonymous.
Now it is a fine line between woman 1 and woman 2 esp when it comes to a males perception as far as his brain records its skin skin and skin.How many times have u heard the old sexist joke that a man when he talks to u he is checking out your bum and boobs.The makeup is something a man will notice much later,or hair or for the matter shoes.
I speak here for our eastern men in particular.How many times have you seen women on simple shopping errands or on parents/teachers day dressed up as if they are headed to a nightclub.What is this woman endorsing?
Lebanese,Moroccan and most of these women from the poor ass countries are out her for nothing other than that(it used to be only russians remember)and since they dress in a provocative manner the males species for whom suddenly all this titfest has become mandatory seems to have forgotten the difference.And most of them are fair and lighthaired-those that arent theres always the good ole bttle of peroxide.
Apart from their wives/sisters/mothers or daughters everone is up for grabs.This is the typical asian male mentality nevermind aforementioned female relatives are bonking their brains out at random.
I just spent 2 months in Uk and europe and believe me I say it for myself as a woman who has grown up seeing everything that myself find this display of the flesh vulgar.Wear a summer dress by all means but does it have to be see thru,to show your underwear or lack of it.16 year old girls now look older with their boobs all sticking out and so much make up.I was taking my O levels at 16 for heaven sake!Not tramping thru malls looking like a slag.I have seen the number of girls that come thru the door if u have manager attached to ur name willing to do anything for a job,and if after that they still dont get it,NO HARD FEELINGS,NEXT MANAGER please.And what jobs.they do it for a mobile phone!The problem lies with the order of the day,the gross availability and the age old stereotype that western women are immoral.Sadly that isnt true as our own women have beat them to it by a furlough.

23 September, 2005 22:59  
Blogger pixelsonic said...

Very interesting to read so many passionate takes on the issue of women's clothing in Dubai.

I think that it is obvious that the status quo has greatly shifted in Dubai in the last five or so years so it is therefore rather pointless to try and turn the clock back now. Instead of overanalyzing the delightful plenomenon of relaxed female attitudes to their attire, I have a simple, universal, 2 step philosophy that applies anywhere in the world:

1. Wear whatever feels comfortable to you. People will judge you whatever you do so it's up to you how much you care what other people think.

2. Whatever you do choose to show is fair game for anyone to stare at who wishes to do so. It's stupid to expect men not to stare at even a rather floppy prosterior so get over it instead of wondering why everybody is staring at your boobs.

24 September, 2005 02:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Attn: All Palestine girls...

I ALWAYS wondered about the palestinian girls and their dressing.

I mean...Head is all scarved up.. nice decent face. but when ur eye moves lil down....there comes big and tight busts. What is the use of covering your hair when you want to expose bust and belly.

Can someone explain this logic?

24 September, 2005 04:01  
Anonymous chanad said...

A very interesting debate. Let me just add to this by saying that thing's haven't always been like this in the Gulf. If you dig up some photos from the 60s, 70s, early 80s you can find Khaleeji women wearing tight mini skirts (and i mean mini) -- along with all the floral shirts and ridiculous hair of course.

Even those of us who are relatively young have been able to notice the the change in attitudes towards dress. I wouldn't necessarily call it becoming more conservative... but rather the last decade and a half seems to have seen a resurgence in "public piety".

24 September, 2005 04:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kaya and Pixelsonic from Anon (2,6 etc etc)

Sensible analysis! LOL!

24 September, 2005 05:00  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

To my mind, whether the girl wearing few clothes is flaunting herself or not is largely irrelevant. So what if she is? Is there something so wrong about a woman flaunting herself? Does this automatically make her a slut, an unfaithful partner, a bad mother?

If anyone thinks a girl flaunting herself is by definition a slut of low morals, I suggest they don't venture outside of the Gulf and express this opinion too loudly.

24 September, 2005 10:50  
Anonymous Roman said...

My attitude for any country may it be UAE, or UK, is to respect the local culture, as I am a guest in that country. Also may I point out that woman 1 may think she is dressed for the sun, but this is totally wrong. As you have noticed that many cultures that reside in the arid climates, cover up from wrist to ankle in loose fitting clothes. This is for local culture, and secondly this is to protect from the harmful rays of the sun. If one drives down Al Wasl road and Jumeirah Beach Road, you will see maids covered head to toe, and using an umbrella, whilst the 'Jane's' are in the convertibles in the summer dress, getting a nice even coating of skin cancer! So a polite message to my western neighbours, you are harming yourself by wearing less, and are not following "when in Rome, do as the Romans". The people who do not respect this simple fact, probably in how ever many years they have resided here in the region have not mixed with Eastern cultures enough to respect their friend's way of life, and understand why their many years of civilisation has choosen to wear loose fitting clothes from head to toe. You probably only have close friends that you understand from a similar culture.

Secondly I do agree that the Middle East has changed, more women from this region are wearing the latest fashions (guess where these fashions are imported from) of tight clothes, this maybe due to their guests, and also the mass media pumped through television, as the Arabic pop music is not exactly according to local custom.

24 September, 2005 12:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tim newman:

once again the same supremist tone, the oracles of civilisation preaching to the culturally backward nincompoops of the East. As if Western men never classify women as sluts or tarts based on their clothing and attitude!!! Who are you trying to kid pal?? Thanks for the advice but perhaps you ought to then issue the same warning to all the men living in the West who treat scantily dressed (and even well dressed) women as nothing more that objects of their unbridled lust! Spare us the patronising sermons of how to behave when we visit the West. First learn how to behave in the East where you earn your bread and butter.

24 September, 2005 12:32  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

once again the same supremist tone, the oracles of civilisation preaching to the culturally backward nincompoops of the East. As if Western men never classify women as sluts or tarts based on their clothing and attitude!!! Who are you trying to kid pal?? Thanks for the advice but perhaps you ought to then issue the same warning to all the men living in the West who treat scantily dressed (and even well dressed) women as nothing more that objects of their unbridled lust! Spare us the patronising sermons of how to behave when we visit the West. First learn how to behave in the East where you earn your bread and butter.

Feel free to point out where I have suggested Western men never classify women as tarts. My comment was addressing the referring to scantily dressed women as tarts, and did not distinguish between those who practice this in the West and those in the East.

As for my advice, it was directed explicitly at those who believe that a girl flaunting herself is by definition a slut of low morals. I find it enlightening that you think this is directed at you personally.

24 September, 2005 12:44  
Blogger secretdubai said...

People are missing the issue here: it is not about whether or not people should cover up. No one would dispute that it is probably rude and unwise to wear something that your host feels uncomfortable with.

This is about people in the "East" recognising that women of all ages bare partf of their flesh in the "West" as a casual, unsexual thing. We don't perceive it in the way that many "Eastern" people do. We see legs, arms and shoulders in the same way that Easterners perhaps see feet and hands: just as a regular, external body part.

Yes - shoulders can be displayed in a deliberately seductive fashion. Legs can look sexy. But it doesn't mean that every display of skin does, or is intended to.

More often than not, someone is just wearing a pair of shorts or a vest top because it's what Western people wear in the heat. My 80-something grandmother wasn't slutty or flaunting for wearing a knee length skirt and showing her calves: she was a little old lady, and that's what a lot of little old ladies like to wear.

24 September, 2005 12:46  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

People are missing the issue here: it is not about whether or not people should cover up.

I don't believe I have missed the issue. My point was that one should not judge people purely by what they wear, which is surely related to your point on how the judgement of East and West differs.

24 September, 2005 12:50  
Blogger secretdubai said...

>>I don't believe I have missed the issue.

My clarification wasn't really aimed at you! And yes, I agree with you about not judging people by what they wear.

24 September, 2005 12:58  
Blogger 1Desi said...

Big up SD!

Nice topic, good discussions - this is prob the only place where people from so many backgrounds come and talk about living in Dubai.

The cover of the 'net' surely helps but I've been following this blog for a while now and love the neutral... 'think for yourself' approach the author takes on her posts.

Glad that the press is taking notice of so many issues listed on this blog - Keep up the gr8 work SD!

24 September, 2005 13:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If anyone thinks a girl flaunting herself is by definition a slut of low morals, I suggest they don't venture outside of the Gulf and express this opinion too loudly."

Tim the point is that here too (in the "Eastern" world, Gulf etc) one should not express this notion as it is a retarded and utterly imbecilic one. This is not because it is politically incorrect to do so.

By making the patronizing suggestion that we shouldn’t say so in the West you are insinuating that many Easterners reading your piece are going to run around chanting “slut, slut” every time they see an arm or a leg in the West. I haven’t actually encountered this phenomenon despite having lived in the West and in many other parts of the world. They don’t do so here either.

SD writes that : “This is about people in the "East" recognising that women of all ages bare part of their flesh in the "West" as a casual, unsexual thing. We don't perceive it in the way that many "Eastern" people do. We see legs, arms and shoulders in the same way that Easterners perhaps see feet and hands: just as a regular, external body part.

First of all the East is not a homogenous Mars bar. It is full of different types of people with very varying traditions. It is rather puerile to keep talking about Easterners as this includes Thais and Moroccans who reveal quite a bit of flesh (ever seen belly dancing?). Muslims within the East ( I take it the focus is really on Islamic mores) also exhibit very contrasting lifestyles and attitudes towards social mores – it has become rather convenient to classify all Muslims as a backward people but nudity and flesh do not imply modernity.

As a Muslim I find SD’s remarks pretty strange as I don’t see hands and feet to be offensive in fact I am all for choice in dressing and clothes. But at times you need to be sensitive to the host culture and showing three inches of the pelvis and the tattoo on your bum is stretching it a little!!!!

24 September, 2005 13:09  
Blogger secretdubai said...

I put "east" in inverted commas and in the post clarified it perhaps as a "gulf" attitude - though obviously it is not the sole attitude here. I really can't be bothered to write "Easterns, but not far easterners, and not moroccans (they're eastern?!), and not x y z other nationality that has a more liberal country, and not a b c citizens that have a more tolerant viewpoint" - my meaning, and it should be obvious, is the prevailing conservatism of attitude regarding skin as generally experienced in the Gulf.

>>I don’t see hands and feet to be offensive

Yes - that's exactly my point. Just as people here DON'T find the sight of a lady's hands offensive, nor do "western" people find the sight of a lady's shoulders offensive. Read my post again:

>>We see legs, arms and shoulders in the same way that Easterners perhaps see feet and hands: just as a regular, external body part.

24 September, 2005 13:17  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

By making the patronizing suggestion that we shouldn’t say so in the West you are insinuating that many Easterners reading your piece are going to run around chanting “slut, slut” every time they see an arm or a leg in the West.

I'm insinuating nothing, other than the fact that such attitudes do exist here in the Middle East (as they do in the West) and expressing them loudly in the West, be you a Westerner or Easterner, is unwise - more so than expressing them in the East.

So, given that people feel uncomfortable with my advice, I withdraw it in full and instead encourage anyone - Westerner or Easterner - who thinks that a girl showing flesh is somehow morally at fault to go to Newcastle or Manchester and shout this from the top of their lungs.

24 September, 2005 13:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tim:

"encourage anyone - Westerner or Easterner - who thinks that a girl showing flesh is somehow morally at fault to go to Newcastle or Manchester and shout this from the top of their lungs"

Thank you sir. Your words of wisdom are ample warning for all those of us who had planned their annual vacation to Newcastle with the prime objective of swearing oathes and invectives at every semi-dressed kate moss wannabie walking by flashing their feet and hands (God forbid the thought). That is so kind of you good sir. We are now suitably educated and will only do so in Dubai, not in Newcastle.

24 September, 2005 13:43  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

That is so kind of you good sir. We are now suitably educated and will only do so in Dubai, not in Newcastle.

Actually, I'd not recommend it in Dubai either.

24 September, 2005 13:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tim:
"Actually, I'd not recommend it in Dubai either."

Well that's heartening. I thought that running down Western women wearing dresses was more or less the norm here - at least that was how it was being presented...!

Listen, people have different opinions on nudity and exposure everywhere in the world. Many of my American friends look disdainfully on European laxity in clothing (going topless in German parks etc etc). They shudder at the thought of their kids viewing such things, and feel offended by more Bohemian sights in cities such as Prague. US TV is generally much more conservative than French or German mainstream channels where nudity is considered pretty normal. Many French people think the yanks are a bunch of hypocritical prudes when it comes to matters of sexuality (including the yanks' relative modesty in clothing). There are no wrongs or rights on this issue. But what SD fails to understand is that this is a Muslim country and more so an Arab country (there is a difference, as attire is often more so culturally than religiously determined and influenced). Dressing modestly or hiding your flesh is not a sign of backwardness, no more than a O level fail delinquent girl in Newcastle qualifies as being modern or enlightened just because she's showing most of her bum and her cleavage in the local mall and getting laid at the age of 12. The implied link between modernity and nudity (and sexuality), or the effort to link flesh as something natural (ok then go live like they do in the bush) is just so banal and puerile that it's not worth any extensive intellectual exposition. I suggest you read Edward Said's (the Columbia Professor) excellent work called Orientalism which deals in depth with Western cliches about people in the Islamic and Arab world. The problem is that some Westerners here (or rather white English speaking folks) don’t make an effort to understand these things, and instead display cocky vanity. Some are truly great people on the basis of intellect and cultural enlightenment but the Dubai yobs belching and drowning in beer (and barely able to pass their O and A levels) hardly qualify as beacons of civilisation whether or not they are used to seeing SD’s version of flesh.

Basic message is please don’t be patronising and don’t make blanket statements because they reveal your shortcomings (that’s not aimed at you Tim but at the folks who do so).

24 September, 2005 14:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon1

And pop goes the whistle or is it the weasel?!?!

I am somehow gloating to have been able to do what I set up to do in the first place which is to expose Hypocrisy and motivate debate with my Anonymous post at the top of the comments and changed later to Anon1.

It is high time to answer our "Foreign Western Friends" (the world Friends is used in a very loose context) that they do not command the high ground and they should stop dissing the Dubaians and other Gulf people with "Holier than Though" position and their so called western values and "Elitist" attitude.

Now with the unwitting help of SD blog, the aim is to put a stop to this nefarious scheme and try to present the other alternative opinion and correct misconceptions.
I know that this is a very huge and optimistic agenda but we have to start somewhere and SD site will reach even more famous strata’s in the blogger community but with a twist independent from the owner original intent.

Now to come back to the subject.
SD, you are now doing two things with your last two comments:
1- Backpedaling
2- Sinking

Your post about West vs. East perception on nudity is tainted by your uncanny latent racism and elitism apparent in most of your posts throughout the blogg.

You see, it is nice to diss the locals as for openers they don't defend themselves and then it does look, Oh So nice, in the confines of your own community.

You have the typical unannounced “Elitist” attitude of your forefathers with the power to put spin on selected subject in a very inoffensive way. But your message is clear and your motives and back thinking are even clearer.

You see my dear SD, there is two ways to counter people like you:
- Either you suppress them
- Or you elevate them and deride them.

It is just sad to read about perceptions of nudity advocated on a blanket basis by people who would not even dare try this at home. Your idea of nudity for woman in a West vs East context is simply what I call Morality of Convenience.

OK, now what is the next subject?

24 September, 2005 16:59  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Last two commenters: READ THE ORIGINAL POST. In particular the last paragraph:

This is not to say that Western people shouldn't respect the culture and dress codes of Eastern people when they live in their countries: but to underline that Eastern people also need to understand that flesh isn't by default sinful, sexual and intentionally-seductive.

If you can't understand it, then there is no point in further dialogue with you.

24 September, 2005 17:05  
Blogger secretdubai said...

>>I am somehow gloating to have been able to do what I set up to do in the first place which is to expose Hypocrisy and motivate debate with my Anonymous post at the top of the comments and changed later to Anon1.

For me, this is borderline trolling. Any more from you, and I'll delete both comments.

Motivating debate I have no problem with. Deliberately trying to provoke reaction and needle people for your own smug pleasure is execrable.

24 September, 2005 17:10  
Blogger secretdubai said...

>>im country and more so an Arab country (there is a difference, as attire is often more so culturally than religiously determined and influenced). Dressing modestly or hiding your flesh is not a sign of backwardness

[from orginal entry] This is not to say that Western people shouldn't respect the culture and dress codes of Eastern people when they live in their countries: but to underline that Eastern people also need to understand that flesh isn't by default sinful, sexual and intentionally-seductive.

Are you lazy or just stupid? If you want to comment, then actually read the topic, don't just make your own up. This was never about what people should or shouldn't wear. It is about eastern and western attitudes to the exposure of "skin".

24 September, 2005 17:12  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

[T]he aim is to put a stop to this nefarious scheme and try to present the other alternative opinion and correct misconceptions.

Excellent idea! Now, the prevailing view in the West is that in the Gulf countries, girls who wear clothing which exposes a lot of flesh are deemed by many, although certainly by no means all, to hold lesser moral values than normal.

Is this prevailing view incorrect? If so, what is the alternative opinion?

24 September, 2005 17:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Eastern people also need to understand that flesh isn't by default sinful, sexual and intentionally-seductive"

SD don't get all emotional now. Let's face it there is a latent degree of racism in much of what Easterners (as you put them) have to put up with from Westerners. I mean just look at your quote above... no duhhhh! I mean is this profound or what?? You have no right to assume that all Easterners consider any display of flesh to be by default sinful, sexual and intentionally-seductive. You need to focus on your own males who often hold pretty base views about women. Now that you are somewhat cornered you retreat into a indignant but once again arrogant posture of not wanting any dialogue. Suit yourself. This is not dialogue; it is gratuitious and condascending preaching. I like your site but I regret to say that Anon 1 is not wrong, there is a latent degree of bias and prejudice interspersed within the lines. Best to try to shed that if you really want to come across as a liberated and emancipated broad minded Westerner.

Keep up the good work, none of us are perfect and take the criticism in the right perspective. You may learn a thing or two in the process.

24 September, 2005 17:16  
Blogger black feline said...

wow! fireworks!..i suggest to each his/her own..let's all chill out..and listen to The Emancipation of Mimi...u can have your coke..and i like my dry..u know what i mean? and i have invited Hannibal to come along...many he..only he can settle this age old debate.Shalom..peace to all.

24 September, 2005 17:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SecretDubai

Well I guess now you feel it appropriate to refer to me as lazy and/or stupid. I shall not get into a mudslinging match as you once again only reveal that beneath the thin veneer of modernity you are quite intolerant about views that challenge yours.

Thanks a lot

Lazy & Stupid

24 September, 2005 17:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon1

No worries SD, I will tone down but at least we both know where the bar has been set.

TimNewman, either you are a youngster who does not understand debate or you have a low level of college education if any.

I will not engage with you in any debate, as it is a waste of cyberspace.

I will only tell you that I had a laugh when I read that:

Quote
Excellent idea! Now, the prevailing view in the West is that in the Gulf countries, girls ............. lesser moral values than normal.
End Quote.

“The prevailing view” Muahahahahaha
What are you? A member of Gallup or MORI? Or you are representative of the prevailing view of the West. Sheesh, you must command all statistical research all over the world.

Pluease, next time you wish to make a public statement, give us an advance warning so we can temper our laughter.

And avoid unsubstantiated statements if you want people to take you seriously.

24 September, 2005 17:39  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

Heh! Well, I'm no statistician but I've lived in the West for a while and read the popular papers, and have a general idea of prevailing opinions in the West, especially the UK where Eastern vs Western values is hotly debated. Those surveys and polls I've seen generally point to the view that the Gulf countries are intolerant to the exposure of flesh, the intolerance stemming from a belief that exposure of flesh is not compatible with their own morals.

But if you don't think that this is the prevailing view in the West, feel free to tell me what it is.

24 September, 2005 17:45  
Blogger secretdubai said...

"L&S" - you tell me where I said that modest dress is a sign of backwardness?

My bone of contention is the belief that a woman is by default "flaunting" herself if she isn't modestly dressed. It is culturally appropriate to show flesh in the West, just as it is not (always) culturally appropriate to show flesh in the East.

Just as I do not see women in hijabs as "oppressed" but exercising their culture and choice, so I believe that people from this part of the world should revise their perceptions on western people based on their dress.

Wearing modest dress is not a sign of backwardness. Believing that a western woman is slutty or deliberately seductive because she exposes flesh that is acceptable in her country (by which I mean legs and shoulders, most of us only go "topless" on a holiday beach, if at all) IS a narrow-minded, outdated attitude.

Cultural tolerance goes both ways. If you want us to respect Eastern people's wearing of the hijab and abaya as part of their cultural choice and not a sign of "oppression", you have to respect that shorts and t-shirts are part of ours and not a sign of "perversion". (Whether westerners should dress modestly in an Eastern country is a separate argument - but if you want my opinion, is it that we should - tourism hotspots perhaps excepted).

We all know that at the end of the day, clothes do not maketh the man. It is what inside that counts.

24 September, 2005 17:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon1

LMAO
TimNewman said:
Heh! Well, I'm no statistician but I've lived in the West for a while and read the popular papers.....

Here you go doing it again, Muahahahaha, you take your cue from the “popular papers”.
Which one? Sun? News of the World? Sport on Sunday or the FT. LMAO

Sorry, could not resist that again. You think what you want dude and get your education from the tabloids or whatever rings your bell.

Tell you what, have a nice beer at your local and tell your mates all about it as anyway they will be too pissed to understand anything you say. This will make you feel better.

End of discussion.

24 September, 2005 17:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SecretDubai

If you read through what I had written earlier (the longish ones are mine) you'll know that I agree with this notion.

I am all for tolerance and honestly don't mind what women wear as long as it isn't totally inappropriate from a contextual vantage point, i.e. if you go topless on the beach, so good for you - but walking around a public government department (like the traffic department) with a g-string and various other parts showing is a bit too much really. At this point it becomes insulting to the host culture. I mean if you know that the nationals are conservative must you show them your various cracks and niches? Tell me if I am wrong? I think at the end of the day you agree with me. Where I took exception was in the rather condascending manner in which you referred to Easterners needing to be educated in matters of the flesh (namely by going to Australia!!). My argument to you would be that your own men (I presume you belong to some part of the Western hemisphere or Australia) are not terribly relaxed about all the flesh they see in their women! When men are together they exchange fairly nasty comments about women who are underdressed... I am sure you can't be that innocent not to know that. At heart Western men are just as chauvanistic as Eastern men. They may not appear to be but they do consider scantily dressed young women with strappy clothes to be more likely targets for a quicky then a nun or a conservatively dressed middle-aged woman. I may be straying from the original topic but my contention is that Western men are just as capable of passing nasty remarks, the manner and style may be different - but kid yourself not honey. I grew up with them!

Anyway peace on you and i do think I understand where you are coming from....

Cheers

Lazy and Stupid ( duh!! or was it Stupid & Lazy....??)

24 September, 2005 18:05  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Obviously not L-or-S (sorry for my lack of control!) I don't think we are actually disagreeing about much.

but walking around a public government department (like the traffic department) with a g-string and various other parts showing is a bit too much really
I've advised so many friends here to "modest-up" a bit when dealing with officials - it is politer, and you get much better treatment.

rather condascending manner in which you referred to Easterners needing to be educated in matters of the flesh
It wasn't supposed to be condescending - myriads of easterners don't need this education anyway, just some I think would find it an interesting, if at first alarming, experience. Just like here when first a westerner might be shocked by "veiled ladies", but eventually come to realise many are strong, independent businesswomen.

I mentioned Australia because it's a warm country where beach dress is worn much more as an everyday thing, and there is much more hippy/casualness about it than in the UK/colder European climes.

And - now I'll get flamed for anti-menness - but I can attest that men of every single nation are perfectly capable of making inappropriate sexual remarks, regardless of how a woman is dressed. I've heard men snigger about a woman in a baggy shirt because she is unable to hide the fact she has large breasts. Not all men, obviously, but enough that it cannot be argued that any one race is more "gentlemanly" than another. There are rogues across the world ;)

24 September, 2005 18:11  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

Here you go doing it again, Muahahahaha, you take your cue from the “popular papers”.
Which one? Sun? News of the World? Sport on Sunday or the FT. LMAO


Well, one would have thought it was obvious: most of them. I said I gleaned what the prevailing view is from reading the popular papers, meaning more than one.

I'm not sure quite why you find this so funny, after all I managed to get the prevailing view on the last general election, the Euro, the Iraq war, fox hunting, and other noteworthy issues in this manner. Reading the popular papers is a useful insight into what the country is thinking, especially as most papers are littered with polls these days.

Were I not 12 years old with a below-par education, I'd be forgiven for thinking you were using this red herring as a way to avoid answering my rather direct question as to whether this alledged prevailing view was correct or not.

24 September, 2005 18:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SecretDubai: I can't disagree with anything at all that you state in your last posting. I think we are fundamentally on the same wavelength. Any misunderstanding is regretted.

Couple of days back I was in the traffic department and a woman who sounded like she was Russian (from what she was saying to her other female partner) was wearing a totally see-through micro-blouse (nothing underneath) and trousers which looked like they'd be sewn on to her body but the azimuth had gone wrong somewhere near the pelvic region so there was virtually not much left to the imagination. Behind the counters local women officials looked at her and exchanged startled glances, partly because every taxi driver there for his license renewal and every other tom, dick and abdul was staring as well. I guess this was a bit too much really... that's what I meant by showing some respect to our hosts. People's attitudes evolve over a period of time but this must come as a shocker to the locals. Sometimes too drastic a change can be hard to palette... and can rebound in negative ways...

S&L!!

24 September, 2005 18:43  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

Heh! Good luck with teaching Russians about cultural sensitivity!

24 September, 2005 19:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tim:

Frankly I think she had no clue as to the effect she was having... or am I being gullible now??

From Russia with Lo...ins....

;-)

S&L

24 September, 2005 20:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon1

TimNewman

You seem to have some comprehension issue in terms of objective analysis.

You said:
A- Reading the popular papers is a useful insight into what the country is thinking, especially as most papers are littered with polls these days.
Reading the popular papers DOES NOT provide any insight to what the country is thinking but does the following:
1- Represent strictly the opinion of the Editor or Owner or Reporter.
2- Attempt to portray their reporting as facts, which for the large majority of papers has long been discredited with bucket loads of tribunal cases and examples.
3- Sell more papers.

So are we to believe what we read. Only with an objective and inquisitive mind when facts are related and being very aware when a written piece is merely the opinion of the writer and not a statistical result.

B- You claim not being a 12 years old but you sure write like one.
And red herring or not, I already advised you that I will not engage in sterile discussions to answer redundant and misinformed questions.

C- Finally, it is nice to note that you are heading my words and now you refer to the original "prevailing view" as the new "alleged prevailing view".
So you changed that now to "alleged". Then there is still a glimmer of hope to turn you around.
Come back when you're old enough to handle adult discussions.

24 September, 2005 20:13  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

Reading the popular papers DOES NOT provide any insight to what the country is thinking but does the following:
1- Represent strictly the opinion of the Editor or Owner or Reporter.
2- Attempt to portray their reporting as facts, which for the large majority of papers has long been discredited with bucket loads of tribunal cases and examples.
3- Sell more papers.


Erm, reading the popular papers sells more papers? Reading the popular papers represents strictly the opinion of the editor? Yet reading across a broad range of newspapers does not give a clear idea as to the prevailing attitudes in a country? I'm afraid I must disagree. Newspapers, if used correctly and despite their faults, are a superb source of current affairs information.

So are we to believe what we read. Only with an objective and inquisitive mind when facts are related and being very aware when a written piece is merely the opinion of the writer and not a statistical result.

Erm, I'm not sure what you mean here. If you are saying that we must maintain and inquisitive and objective mind when reading a range of information sources, then I agree. I'm not sure what it's got to do with anything though.

And red herring or not, I already advised you that I will not engage in sterile discussions to answer redundant and misinformed questions.

You did, hence I posed a potent question based on the subject in hand. But seeing that you have rejected the notion of the prevailing view, would you care to tell me what the prevailing view is and we can move on? Or are you going to keep insisting that I am wrong, yet not reveal why?

Finally, it is nice to note that you are heading my words and now you refer to the original "prevailing view" as the new "alleged prevailing view".
So you changed that now to "alleged". Then there is still a glimmer of hope to turn you around.


I'm not heading your words, nor am I heeding them. I conceded that the view was alleged purely in order to move the discussion forward and not get hung up on a red herring, thus allowing you to answer the question in hand. Your repeated refusal to do so is only holding things up further, and it appears that the ball is in your court to either answer the question, or demonstrate how the prevailing view of the subject in the UK is different from the one I put forward.

24 September, 2005 20:54  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

Frankly I think she had no clue as to the effect she was having... or am I being gullible now??

Probably a bit of both. :)

Actually, when Russian girls dress like that in Russia, the menfolk barely notice.

24 September, 2005 20:56  
Blogger kaya said...

WOW!WHATTA TOPIC WHATTA RESPONSE!And everyone goes home with that strange metallic taste at the back of ones throat.Irony.
Russian women always know what they are doing.They are great advocates of "CUSTOMER SERVICE".Remember ANIMAL FARM?
ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL.BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE|EQUAL THAN OTHERS.
GO FIGURE.

24 September, 2005 20:57  
Anonymous lodesconocido said...

>To an eastern person, 1. is seen as >inappropriate, even disgusting and >she would be accused of "flaunting" >her flesh, arms and legs.

An eastern would think so because he is *not accustomed to* seeing flush. And it is perfectly understandable if he feels unconfortable by the same. But that doesn't mean that he would see it as slutty or suggestive, well a reasonable person will never. He will not be able to experience another perceptive of flush, unless he is used to it.

>Eastern people also need to >understand that flesh isn't by >default 1) sinful, 2)sexual and >3)intentionally-seductive.
One, I agree. But two and three, if the eastern person is not familiar with with that culture, for him that sight could be seductive, eventhough he knows that she doesn't mean to seduce.
My point is it all depends on whether you are used to seeing less dressed people around you or not. Beyond that what you wear doesn't have any significance, and all other things like attitude towards women has nothing to do with dress.
Personally I don't care evenif people around wear anything or not. But I always consider people around me before wearing( or not wearing ) any dress.

24 September, 2005 21:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, this is controversial, but I am a UK girl living in Dubai. I dress differently here, not that I ever dressed sluttily, because the stares are about 100 times that in London. My best friend visited Dubai recently and she was shocked by all the (unwanted) attention. I always make sure I completely cover up - not because of religion or culture - but because it is unbearable if you don't.

These 'stares' also apply to Westerners. I think Dubai, because it is such a transient place and such a prostitute hotspot (there are around 60,000 apparently) many of the men look at women as meat - black, white, brown, purple, whatever.

But living in a place where you have to disguise your body completely to avoid gratutious letching isn't nice. For some reason, even a t shirt here is enough to make guys turn their heads. I don't think Western women are particularly valued by men in Dubai un general.

25 September, 2005 01:45  
Blogger black feline said...

honey are u seeing things? i strongly suggest we attend the short course for expats working and living here(serious..its available)...good orientation..im planning to attend.

25 September, 2005 11:09  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

I don't think Western women are particularly valued by men in Dubai in general.

I'd agree with this. The presence of several thousand prostitutes may have something to do with it, and to one extent or another the whole place gets tarred with the same brush.

25 September, 2005 11:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon1

Here ya go yet one more time displaying misogynists attitude and shifting blame of the negative impact of nudity on the locals who are not perceived now as retards but due to the presence of "prostitutes" or Business Ladies as the current appellation goes.

So what the insinuating comments are now saying is that the locals having seen so many "prostitutes" (as in Russian or East Europe) are by inference looking down at women and generalizing that any woman flaunting her wares is a tart.

I just love it when time and time again the subtleties of the English language and vocabulary used shines through the different comments.
Whichever way you try, the "Elitisms" and inherent "Superiority" of the "Western" shines through and through.

This is a stupid argument to drag the name of East European girls and specifically Russian into the nudity debate as extreme Hypocrisy. Everybody is guilty under the sun and shifting blame at will is the order of the day.

Well let us discuss who brought "Prostitution" into the Gulf.

Hummm, anyone remembers the good old days of "Gulf Air" hostesses where all these pretty hostesses were rampaging in the hotels bars, restaurants and lobbies of Dubai, Bahrain, Muscat. Oooops, short memory here.
Oh now I remember they were Brits!
Sheesh, who were the pretty tarts lining the Deira Sheraton pool, the Dubai Intercont and the first very old shopping mall: Al Nasr? Who was going topless on the Sheikh beach in Bahrain. Oooops, Brits again.
Which one was swinged out from the hotel balcony in Manama? Of course Brit.
Hey, who is the poor lady who ended up in the morgue in Muscat? You are right, Brit again.

It is the British girls who started "Prostitution" in the Gulf. And knocking the Russian girls to suit your inherent bias view to prove a point draws a blank (no pun intended). So don't tell me about British girls because anybody reading this will laugh his head off

Wana talk about prostitution? Are you sure you are up to it?
I think not and let us stick to the nudity issue without you trying to show us again your Superiority and Elitisms.

25 September, 2005 16:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to the ANON at 25 September, 2005 01:45
::

Sadly you are right. Staring seems to be the norm, in fact it is often worse than just an odd stare-it's gawking as in GAWWWKING... how can one sociologically or otherwise explain this? If the attitudes are so liberal then why the excessive GAWWKING... can anyone explain WHY?? It is certainly not just because women are walking around with western attire on because even conservatively dressed women get stared at...

Someone with a degree in psychology and sociology please EXPLAIN whyyyy???

L&S

25 September, 2005 21:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to the ANON at 25 September, 2005 01:45

actually on second thoughts i think you have possibly explained it rather well...

darn, there may be no need of a sophisticated sociological explanation....

Maybe a TAS{C} force is required (The Anti Staring Campaign

I guess initially it must be quite flattering to get stared at but after about 5 mins and hundreds of stares it gets pretty darn creepy...

L&S

25 September, 2005 21:18  
Blogger pixelsonic said...

SInce lengthy, ranty posting seems to be in fashion her, the gloves are off:

The status quo is (sadly?) shifting here. Whereas I would like to think that most people who come here do realize at some level that they should respect the local culture, the reality is that a whole lot don't, which IMHO has started a cycle of people increasingly ignoring what they should be doing (dressing modestly) in favour of following the newly created status quo (anything goes), which reinforces itself, erases the local culture and confuses everybody.

This is too complicated a discussion to be framed in terms of the old "East vs. West" debate, the reality is that there is a broad spectrum of ways of thinking, both positive and negative towards the publicity of the female body, on both sides of the East/West "divide". Worse, an East/West analysis does not properly take into account the actual impact of contemporary popular culture, which comes from both sides (Christina Aguilera and Haifa Wehbe).

Although I enjoy hearing people's opinions I don't really enjoy seeing arguments coming from a culturally relativist perspective because it just creates furhter antagonism while failing to shed any new light on the crux of the matter at hand.

Throughout history , and in most cultures, men have always desired to assert their dominance over women by controlling female sexuality in one way or another and hypocritical attutudes towards the fremale body are nothing new in any culture.

Perhaps staring and condescending remarks are the only devices that chauvanists are left with now that women are increasingly asserting themselves.

25 September, 2005 23:12  
Blogger pixelsonic said...

Furthermore, there have always been prostitutes of every nationality and in every culture, just as there have always been clients. To suggest otherwise is absurd and only serves to publicly display one's ignorance.

25 September, 2005 23:39  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

26 September, 2005 14:07  
Blogger black feline said...

well said...i strongly suggest we inculcate the spirit of multiculturalism in Dubai..have a specific day dedicated to such initiative..a day to learn a bit about each other culture..we can have the biggest get together rain party..fun is alway the best way to connect with others..

26 September, 2005 14:58  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

So what the insinuating comments are now saying is that the locals having seen so many "prostitutes" (as in Russian or East Europe) are by inference looking down at women and generalizing that any woman flaunting her wares is a tart.

Locals? Erm, who mentioned locals mate? The insinuation was that due to the presence of many prostitutes in Dubai, men take a dimmer view or women that that which may be found elsewhere. Nobody mentioned this was specific to locals.

And why the speech marks around the word prostitutes? I was referring to prostitutes, i.e. those whose profession is to deliver sexual services in exchange for money, which are in abundance in Dubai. I can only assume that you are in some doubt as to whether the prosititutes in Dubai are actually prostitutes.

I just love it when time and time again the subtleties of the English language and vocabulary used shines through the different comments. Whichever way you try, the "Elitisms" and inherent "Superiority" of the "Western" shines through and through.

You love it, eh? Well as these "elitisms" and "inherent superiorities" exist largely in your head, I'd have to class your pleasure as self-gratification.

Well let us discuss who brought "Prostitution" into the Gulf.

Yes, let's do.

Hummm, anyone remembers the good old days of "Gulf Air" hostesses where all these pretty hostesses were rampaging in the hotels bars, restaurants and lobbies of Dubai, Bahrain, Muscat. Oooops, short memory here. Oh now I remember they were Brits!

So air hostesses, especially pretty hostesses, who "rampage" in bars and lobbies are prostitutes are they? Or is it that they were Brits which makes them prostitutes?

Sheesh, who were the pretty tarts lining the Deira Sheraton pool, the Dubai Intercont and the first very old shopping mall: Al Nasr? Who was going topless on the Sheikh beach in Bahrain. Oooops, Brits again.

So girls who line shopping malls and sunbath topless are also prositutes?!! This is rather ironic, coming from somebody who took exception to the notion that men in Dubai judge western women harshly!

It is the British girls who started "Prostitution" in the Gulf.

Yes, by being pretty and sunbathing topless.

And knocking the Russian girls to suit your inherent bias view to prove a point draws a blank (no pun intended).

I am not knocking Russian girls, and there is no bias away from Russian girls from this Russian-speaking Russophile. I merely pointed out that might not know the effect they have on others when they dress in Dubai how they do in Russia.

So don't tell me about British girls because anybody reading this will laugh his head off

I rather think they will, yes.

Wana talk about prostitution? Are you sure you are up to it?

If you like, yes. No problem.

I think not...

Ah, you answer your own questions but not those of other people. How odd.

...and let us stick to the nudity issue without you trying to show us again your Superiority and Elitisms.

Superiority and elitisms which, despite unnecessary capitalisation, exist purely in your head. But okay, let's stick to the nudity issue, and you may continue by answering the question I posed to you a day or two back. Think you can manage that?

26 September, 2005 17:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PIXELSONIC:

your post of 25 September 2005 23:12 is excellent. Very well put. Erudite and concise.

L&S

26 September, 2005 18:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ishtara,

82 posts...nope..83 (mine ;)...obviously a rather contentious issue, not helped by the sub-plot of Anon 1 vs Tim Newman (sounds like a law case or a DJ re-mix)

Anyway, let's put a simplistic spin on things.

Men liiiiike women!!! Dooh!

Men are more visually attuned then women.

Men derive pleasure from observing physically appealing specimens of womankind. Dooh!

Men are the same the world over.

No man is emotionless when it comes to checking out sexy women.

Disproportionate ratio of men:women
-->the UAE has one of the highest concentrations of men in the world (can you say horny!)

All men here chase women irrespective of their nationality. It's just that their method differs. (I luff you!!)

There's no point argueing about one's crinkly aunt daring to bare...it's a pointless comparison... youthful T&A on show is youthful T&A on show...will get you a boner from Los Angeles to Tokyo by way of Paris, London and Dubai.

cue--> "We are the world, we are the children..."

26 September, 2005 21:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is ISHTARA?

I've been thinking about the core topic and have come the the conclusion that there is a fair bit of exhibitionism going on - this obviously makes it hard for a normal, natural woman to wear something summery and revealing without getting undue attention even though she is not seeking it per se. Many men may be venal yet there are women out there who are seeking attention for one reason or another. It's sort of a competition and if you're not looked at then you're just not cool or "in" enough to be in a hip city I guess. I mean why do so many women get the breasts enlarged out here? Surely it's not to feel natural, is it? In a way one feels sorry for them, as they have an pathological inferiority complex and apart from their bodies have nothing much boast about. The brain has given way to the breast, to coin it in an uncouth way!

26 September, 2005 21:59  
Blogger pixelsonic said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

26 September, 2005 22:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SD I should have mentioned that post on 26 September, 2005 21:59 is me, L&S!!

26 September, 2005 22:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PixelS:

Sorry for the inadvertent grammatical errors etc..

do you concur with this notion? is this exhibitionism at large?

L&S

26 September, 2005 22:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why did Pixel's comment vanish? Seemed quite innocuous...

26 September, 2005 22:09  
Blogger pixelsonic said...

black feline: I agree, we should be focusing on multiculturalism, mutual respect and tolerance as a way forward and I think that blogs are a part of this process...even with the inevitable sparks it's interesting to see people talking about major issues!

Props to you SD for your efforts in nuturing this forum(even if the original intentions behind your posts occasionally end up getting hijacked)!

26 September, 2005 22:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 1-

"So what the insinuating comments are now saying is that the locals having seen so many "prostitutes" (as in Russian or East Europe) are by inference looking down at women and generalizing that any woman flaunting her wares is a tart."

Erm, no. I wasn't referring to 'locals'. I was referring to all types/nationalities of men. You refer to mysogynism, did you mean yourself?

I think it's pretty sad that you can't except that women get gawked at in Dubai and it makes them feel uncomfortable and like an object. The fact that I will cover up entirely simply because it makes me feel sick to be stared at in that way.

I am a woman, so unfortunately I would have a better daily understanding of this than you.

As for Brit girls being prostitutes, how would you know? Have you paid one? I was talking about prostitutes who accept money, not the 'prostitutes' in your mind who show a bit of flesh when sunbathing - as far as I am aware, there is no monetary transaction there.

I was also not referring to 'russian' prostitutes... this seems to be an assumption all of your own.

At the end of the day, wherever the men are from, I don't think a country is truly modern and cosmopolitan if a woman is so concerned over being leered at that she would rather get a taxi than walk 50 metres.

Once I was in Satwa waiting for a taxi, covered up in a full length trouser suit and someone tried to solicit me. THIS is what I am talking about,this should not be a part of my everyday life.

Here here, Tim

27 September, 2005 13:19  
Anonymous Global Citizen said...

Your East / West generalizations are dumb and born of a pathetic ignorance of today's modern world dear.

27 September, 2005 18:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

given the overall flow of the arguments here you may find these two links to be interesting:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/4256418.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/4285982.stm

28 September, 2005 05:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon1

Closure.

With 92 comments of different categories and the somehow liberal expressions mentioned by the different posters.

We now seek closure on this subject as follows:

- Nudity is a delicate subject and the perceived offence on the degree of nudity is related to a varsity of factors ranging from culture to education.
No generalization can be made and attacking a particular population being it Local, Russian or British is anathema of educated liberal thinking.

- When you wish to debate, and by all means do debate, do not attempt to put misogynistic views forward or blanket statements as statistical facts or simply imply and insinuate what you cannot say publicly in an arrogant and disguised "Elitist" attitude.

- Don't be afraid to state your own opinion without hiding it as a public established truth and when in doubt or in ignorance, be inquisitive.

For it is only through honest exchange of opinions that we all learn something new each day.

29 September, 2005 14:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darling Anon 1, I think you are confused. Misogynism is a term for men who hate women, not women who hate men.

If you would like a dictionary, please let me know as I have a spare one.

Many thanks,
Your favourite Elitist (with a capital E)

10 October, 2005 14:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, good taste is good taste and bad taste is bad, regadless of where you're living in the world. One point to note: all First Ladies in the "West" are required to wear skirts which are not above the knee.

03 December, 2005 20:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A girl friend of mine vitited me from Canada when I was living in the UK and she was surprised at how unashamedly the local men THERE stared at or checked her out (compared to the men in Canada). MMen do look, whether openly or not; it's universal. Therefore, depending on your own level of comfort (being a woman) on men looking at you, dress accordingly. Once you've been in a place long enough you get to know what pulls the stares.

05 December, 2005 12:59  
Blogger ruski said...

This is a message to ALL who has been leaving bad comments about russian women!!!
You have never lived in Russia, you dont know our culture, you dont know our people!!!
who are you to say that ALL russians are prostitutes??!!

We have a great history and people, we ACCEPT yet ALL nationalities and religions in our country, russianS are the most GENUINE and GENEROUS people you will ever meet if they LOVE someone they show their love and dont expect anything in return, we love our freedom and are independent ,and just because OUR Girls are naturally beautiful inside and outside you bad mouth them???
Who can blame these poor girls in Dubai and other countries trying to make some money to send to their starving families in Russia??? Or maybe you never heard of companies that LURE innocent girls to work as a house keeper or child carer and then STEAL their documents and make them prostitute???
How many of these poor Russian or Ruskis as you call them are trapped in Middle East, their families know nothing about them and cant even track them!!!
they are beng exploited and if they dont work their employers threaten to kill or hurt their family members!!!
I feel bad for all ofhem and IAM WILL AND TRULY PROUD TO BE RUSSIAN GIRL!!!

20 April, 2006 09:17  

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