NATASHA TOFFA vs Caroline Overington : ABC RADIO MELBOURNE

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Let’s face it, we live in a messed up society where many of us are surrounded by racism, poverty, death, discrimination, terrorism and so on. However of course it’s not all bad, women of diverse backgrounds, races, shapes and sizes including Muslim women, are FINALLY being represented the way they should be!

We are living in a time where women are being celebrated for equality and for their contributions to not only their communities, but to society itself. However not everyone agrees entirely and what’s even more troubling is knowing that there are some women in society who claim they are intersectional feminists, claim they stand for equal rights, yet pick and choose when they are pro intersectional feminism and against intersectional feminism. It’s not a buffet, there’s no pick and choose when it comes to intersectional feminism nor when it comes to human rights and in this article’s case women’s rights, or is that just white privilege steering the wheel?

On January 29th Associate Editor of The Australian; Caroline Overington published an article titled “DFAT Exhibition Showcasing Modest Australian Fashion Does Not Represent Us”. January 30th I was invited on air for an Interview with ABC Radio National along with Caroline to debate and discuss her article along with our own view points. If you haven’t as yet, you can listen to the Interview by clicking on this link:       

   http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/drive/backlash-over-promoting-australias-modest-and-muslim-fashion-o/9376246

First off, who is US, is she speaking on behalf of Australian Males AND Females? Is US a wealthy white privileged Australian female?  Or a non-English speaking Chinese immigrant studying and working minimum wage? Is “US” the Indigenous and rightful owners of this land? Is “US” an Indian family who managed to escaped poverty and start a new life in Australia? Or perhaps US is a Middle Eastern woman who entered Australia as a refugee to escape her war stricken country? Australia is a strongly diverse, multicultural country soooo has Caroline composed a survey and spoken to a variety of diverse Australians in order to back up her claim of “US?”

I strongly believe everyone is entitled to their opinion and freedom of speech, however at the same time I don’t agree with people who speak on subjects they lack knowledge in, as this just comes across ignorant and sarcastic. Some extracts of Caroline’s article are below.

 

“How did you dress your little girl for school this morning? Shorts, and a short-sleeved polo? And what about your good self, what do you have on? A cute off-the-shoulder number? A shirt, with the second button undone? Do you think that makes you a little immodest?

I ask because Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, otherwise known as DFAT, or else as Australia’s face to the world, has this week launched a thrilling new exhibition, in both Malaysia and Indonesia, showcasing, wait for it, “modest Australian fashion.” In case you don’t know what that is, it’s skirts to the floor, ladies. It is full body suits at the beach. It’s covering up your hair, and draping yourself in heavy fabric as you go about your day.

Just curious, though, if you’re not wearing modest fashion, as defined by DFAT, what kind of fashion are you wearing today? Immodest fashion? Because you haven’t got a pair of leggings under your calf-length skirts, and a turtle-neck under your blouse?  Obviously it’s possible to be both Australian and to wear the veil. But the idea that by choosing not to cover up — heading to the beach in a pair of bathers, or hitching up your shorts for climbing trees — makes one immodest … that’s something we need to push back against, as hard and as fast as we can.

How about we tell them: Australia is an enlightened country, where women can dress as they please? How about we “support” them in their “immodest” desires? Because it’s getting harder to live without the scarf in Malaysia.

It’s not fashion forward. It is fashion backward, and plain grotesque.”

Zalia-

We are all aware that Modest Fashion is currently on the rise, bigger than it has ever been before. However like I mentioned on air yesterday Modest Australian Fashion although associated, is not just limited to Islamic Clothing nor is it “skirts to the floor and draping ourselves in heavy fabric” as Caroline stated. Heavy fabric, REALLY? I don’t know about you but that is the most ignorant way of attempting to make others understand what Modest fashion is. I see countless women each day dressed modestly, whether it’s palazzo ¾ pants and a singlet top, or a strapless jumpsuit, or a  skater dress, these are mere examples of Modest Fashion worn by Non-Muslim women daily. Yet when it comes to Australian Muslim women, people who don’t know about Islam or are just ignorant and don’t care, always want to talk about their claims of how “oppressed” we are.

Let me just say this, I’m not speaking for every Muslim woman in Australia but I am going to say as an Australian born and raised, 4 year Muslim Convert, I am speaking for 99.9% of them in this article. We are well aware Australia is a land of freedom where everyone can talk, act, think and dress how they wish to. I strongly agree that women in Australia can and SHOULD wear whatever they choose to wear and not be judged, regardless of what anyone else thinks of it. So why is it so hard to understand that for Muslim women like myself who CHOOSE to cover their bodies, who CHOOSE to wear hijab, is one of the many ways in which we feel LIBERATED and FREE!?    

What was most disturbing and intolerable was your contradiction of stating that Australian women should wear whatever they like and have the freedom to do so but then labelled Hijab Fashion as grotesque. What sort of self-proclaimed feminist uses their social platform to attack another group of women? Yet claims to care about how Muslim women are being treated in various countries overseas, claims to care about female empowerment and women’s rights?  In no way is the globalisation of modest fashion used to force women to be oppressed. If this is what you believe and being a so called feminist, that means you also believe that the hypersexualisation of women in fashion has oppressed women and forced them to dress a certain way, making them feel pressured by society and modern fashion to wear less. Or what about the women who aren’t Muslim and would prefer to dress modestly but don’t feel it’s an option, because they don’t want to stand out and standing out could lower their chances in career and/or social opportunities?

Regardless of how you feel about others choices that are not your own, or how others choose to represent ourselves, you need to remember at the end of the day we are all females who bleed the same blood regardless of our differences. That’s what makes it so beautiful, everyone’s individual uniqueness in this beautiful multicultural country we call home.

 

 

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