Last week one of my colleagues lent me a very cool (from an educational perspective) artifact to use in class: a burqa. My students and I had learned about religous fundamentalism in general -- and its effect on women in particular -- earlier in the year, so the burqa thing was not news to them. As a teacher, I was pretty excited about the burqa, but as a woman it totally creeped me out, and if I thought about it for more than a few seconds that burqa made me angry. Even after seven years of teaching, I still forget that your average high school student is not nearly as nerdy or indignant as I am, so I mistakenly expected my students to feel pretty much the same way upon seeing the burqa.
"You look silly," one kid said. "Is it hot under there?," a bunch of kids asked. "Oooh, take a picture," another kid urged. "You should go knock on Mr. E's door and see what he does," suggested one of my favorite girls, as if it were Halloween. The closest they came to righteous indignation was arriving at this consensus: "Wow, that must suck."
Um, yeah, I think living under a regime that thought so little of you that it attempted to render you invisible by forcing you to cover yourself from head to fingertip to toe, made it illegal for you to receive an education, forbade you from leaving your home unless escorted by a close male relative, stoned you if it thought you'd had sex outside of marriage, and outlawed laughter would be pretty fucking "sucky."