Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Black Man's Kryptonite

The original woman as she manifest in the shades of black, brown and yellow is a beautiful woman. One of the main focal points of the Nation of Gods and Earths is that the Black family is of great importance. As such we need our Black women to bring that into existence.

Due to the history of slavery, colonialism and imperialism in the Americas AND due to the incursions of northern aryan tribes into various portions of Asia from earlier epochs there has been a hatred of self planted amongst original people. This hatred of self also leads to an attraction toward things that are not of ourself.

The magnify glass is usually on the 'descendants of slaves' in the Americas in terms of how the 'color consciousness' or 'Willie Lynchism' plays out. Reality is that this is a WORLD WIDE phenomenom that I bear witness to. I remember traveling to Kenya and seeing mad bleach creams for sale and being advertised in the local supermarket. Here in the place where American blacks look to for 'Black is beautiful' and yet they were adopting a white standard. Here is an article that looks at that color consciousness as being rooted in Arab cultures also.

Islam Also to Blame for Prizing White Skin

Just like everything else, perceptions of sexiness have globalized. Hollywood movies, the fashion industry, MTV and Miss World beauty contests have set universal standards for female sexual appeal. It is in this context that Arab and African men have come to measure the beauty of their women. But the pressure on women to meet men’s expectations of beauty isn’t a recent invention, and standards have changed over the years.

Over sexualizing girls is as dangerous as global warming. In the Arab world, the features of an ideal woman changed between being opulent, plump, slim or obese, according to Abdelwahab Bouhdiba in the book Sexuality in Islam. Sometimes large breasts were preferable, sometimes firm round ones. At other times, pink flesh, chubby and curved (samina, maluma), a wasp-like waist, or a bamboo-like figure (ghusn al ban, gudib khizuran) were fashionable.

Bouhdiba even cites that women in the Abbasid era had to compete with the marked homosexual features that were in vogue; something similar to what happens in fashion today. “ The Abbasids,” he says, “ even preferred a tomboy type of women, with hair cut very short and a manly stride.”

Arab men’s views for female beauty, however, for many years sought a firm well rounded behind, large breasts and translucent skin. Arab belly dancers with their plump bodies remain the fantasy of the ordinary Arab man. Fair or translucent skin was always a highly demanded feature of beauty. Even in the old days, Arab women used a bleaching agent known as Batika.

In Mauritania, an Arab-African country, women are still force-fed to become fat and meet their men’s standards of beauty.

Men of the Somali race always have long valued slender waists. It was not that long ago when Somali nomad girls used to tie a rope around their waist to prevent them from filling their stomachs when eating. But extremely skinny women were never in vogue. While fair skin was considered not bereft of beauty (Casaan qurux kama qatana), it was the marriin dhalaal, shinning brown skin that caught the imagination of poets. Fair skinned women were often used as the butt of jokes, accused of being airheads, just as are blondes in the West. Somali women have never come under great pressure to lighten their skin. Those who used whiteners were often looked down upon.

It is Islam, however, that instituted a new set of unnatural beauty standards on women through the description of Hur-al-ain (black-eyed houri). The description of Al Suyuti, one of Islam’s eminent Quranic interpreters of the houris, is telltale. “Their bodies,” he says “are so diaphanous, so transparent that one can see the bones through the flesh and the marrow through the bones, just as a drinker can see the ruby red of the wine through the clearness of crystal.”

No wonder that most Arabs today see no offense in watching ad nauseam a commercial showing a female applicant for a TV presenter job who is rejected due to her brown skin but gets the job after she lightens the tone of her skin with a brand name cream.

World folklore is rife with princesses but I bet there is not a child of any race that has imagined a princess with black skin color, or even a black prophet of any religion for that matter.

One therefore can say that although pressure on women to measure up to the existing norms of beauty is as old as history, it is the conversion of women’s sexuality into a commercial industry using global media as its vehicle that portrays women only as sex objects.

It is soap opera’s such as Sex in the City and Desperate Housewives where the unnatural looks of the models and MTV singers that make today’s standards of beauty for teenage girls around the world.

Also the pharmaceutical industry thrives on peoples’ fear of fat. They portray thinness as the epitome of sexual appeal, thus prompting young generations around the world to suffer from psychological disorders in their quest to boost their sexual appeal and remain in vogue.

Over sexualization is not limited to girls only as boys also undergo similar torture. They have to adhere to certain sexual charisma standards imposed by the fashion and music industry. The industry needs them to be thin, hairless, have a six pack, pecs and dress well.

The banning of skinny models from catwalks by Spanish fashion organizers may be a good place to start a concerted international campaign to help the young generation regain their health, their self-esteem and their natural bodies.

Maybe it is time for the United Nations to assign a panel of experts to study the health and psychological impacts of sexualizing women in cinema, fashion and the pharmaceutical industries. This is indeed an issue that is as threatening as global warming and needs to be addressed at the highest levels of power. If global warming endangers our physical existence on earth, our sexualizing of girls is to use Susan Brownmiller’s words “…the ultimate restriction on freedom of the mind.”

Bashir Goth
Bashir Goth is a veteran journalist, freelance writer, the first Somali blogger and editor of a leading news website


Anonymous said...

I think more research needs to be done in regards to the level of influence, if any, that Islam has on the prizing of white skin. I think a lot of the supporting information that Bashir mentions is more so related to Arab culture and tradition than anything "Islamically" influenced.

The Quran as well as other Hadiths make no mention of preferring white skin color over darker skin color. I think it's important to make a distinction between Islamic culture and Arab culture. They don't go hand in hand.

The roots of prizing white skin and European culture go back to when white supremacy was planted (way before Islam). When the descendants of Aryan race decided to rape all the darker cultures into submission, while concurrently brainwashing the offsprings of these races to worship Aryan culture. A book that explores this is Yuruga: An African-Centered Critique Of European Cultural Thought And Behavior, by Marimba Ani

C'BS ALife Allah said...

Peace I agree. His observations are on point yet I think the terminology could be a little clearer. Yet then the next question would be what IS Islamic culture? Alot of what is referenced as Islamic culture by non-muslims AND muslims is Arab culture. That is why Judaism in its root is the culture AND religion. The religion is so rooted in the culture. The religion of islam is rooted in Arab culture so where is the line drawn?

Anonymous said...

I've read the Quran and accompanying Sunnah many times. I have to be honest, coming from a West Indian (Jamaican)/Afrikan background, there is nothing in the Quran that is exclusively rooted in Arab culture. Being that the Quran was initially revealed to Arabs, does not mean that the Quranic text is exclusive to Arab culture. As a matter of fact, Arabs are the minority and the majority of Muslims are non-Arab.

Many of the verses and related ayats are practical guidelines for life that any culture can follow. I am no proselytizer, but the equivalent is no different than the practicality and the inclusive range of the 12 Jewels.

The 12 Jewels can be applied in just about every context regardless of what your intial background, culture or race is, albeit a set a guidelines that were initially exclusive to Nubians. (e.g., Nature of Nature, Nine Ball)

Islam does not equal Arab culture nor does Arab culture equal Islam. If anything, Arab culture has inherited some of the principles and guidelines from the Quran and Hadith. Similar to how Black culture in America has now inherited many of the principles of European culture. Excessive alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, drug use, pork consumption, individualism, materialistic and pagan rituals based on falsehood (Christmas, Valentines day, Thanksgiving Day, Easter, wedding engagement rings and ceremonies, etc)

When two cultures co-exist for hundreds of years, the lines sometimes become blurred. In the end, the best approach for yellow, red, and brown is to embrace those principles that are healthy for the preservation and proper development of the culture and community. I somewhat digressed from the initial topic but at the end of the day, moderation, knowledge, personal accountability and balance is key, irrespective of a where the origin of a person's religion or non-religious choices began.