Thursday, 31 January 2008

Is it 'cool' to be 'stupid'?

I've been thinking about this one for a long time now and have decided that I wanted to kick off a debate about this. I seem to notice that the 'youth' of today (and I do include myself in this category,haha, I am only 28! come on!) seem to believe that to act silly and stupid is attractive. Many examples spring to mind. We just need to watch television programs such as 'Friends' to get an idea of what I mean. Joey? Phoebe? At the gym today I saw a guy wearing odd socks which I assume he thought looked 'cool'. Is this silly and stupid? I guess this is pretty harmless! But, it is not uncommon to see guys wearing jeans hanging so low that half their butt/underwear is shown. I died of embarrassment once when a guys jeans actually fell to his ankles in Sauchiehall Street, he just pulled them back to their low base position and walked on. When I taught RE at high schools in Glasgow young teenage girls would often want their g-strings to be seen as they paraded along the corridors. Would I be narrow minded to suggest to these girls that this was inappropriate? Or is liberty in fashion something that I, as a progressive, should be promoting? Hmmm. My position on this is that wear what you want but you must suffer the consequences. This could be from jeering/insults or even a bottom pinch! Clarification here, in no way do I believe that women can ever dress to allure a rapist, this is a common insult that some narrow minded Muslims use in support of women covering from top to toe. No one deserves to be raped. (Thanks Margot for asking me to clarify on this one, your comments are essential!)

I'm not saying that we should all be dressed in tweed jackets and turtlenecks but what I am saying is that presentation is indicative of many things. 'First impressions last'. But then again if we create a culture where 'stupid' is 'cool' should we even be worrying about such things? My 'stupid' is someone else's 'cool' I guess! Fashion trends change every day and I personally have a desire to look good with clothes that suit me. But can fashion and trend become a dangerous arena? Is it possible that fashion and trends make us lose sight of the bigger picture? Lose sight of our relationship with God? Individuality is promoted in Islamic traditions but when they can harm you or people around you then one must re-consider their worth. Of course interpreting this 'harm' is also open to debate.

In Islamic tradition one must be clean and tidy in order to be ritually pure which means that clothes should be free from dirt. I have seen guys praying in the Mosque with the bottom of their jeans covered in muck because they wear their jeans so low. Is this really the way we wish to present ourselves to our creator? Keeping in mind that there are no seats in the Mosque, just an open hall where everyone prays standing and kneeling on the carpeted floor. I am sick and tired of walking into the Wudu (ritual ablution) area of Mosques and stepping into large puddles of water. It is a part of the Wudu to clean ones hands, mouth, nose, face, arms, ears and feet. It is then not surprising that the place could get wet but by ritually purifying yourself must you make it an awful experience for those after you? Cleanliness must go hand in hand with fashion. The Prophet Muhammad said that cleanliness is half of faith...much to think about there.

Then there is the phenomena that some guys act silly in front of some girls in order to attract their attention. I've never quite got my head around this one. I see it quite often with friends that they think that girls will find them more attractive if they act a fool. Is this not perpetuating old gender stereotypes? Is this the way that men try to create a balance to patriarchy? Is this the way that women seek their liberation from male dominance? This reminds me of the time when I worked for the Ford Foundation New York and was organising an International Conference in Istanbul. A debate started about gender balance amongst participants. There were some who said that we need to have an equal number of men and women at this conference. I was of the opinion that the best person should be selected. Not quite sure what the correct answer is but surely we are of worth because we are a 'being' and not a 'man' or a 'woman'?

I am left wondering then.....what is cool and what is stupid?

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