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A British man came to a Sheikh and asked, “Why is it not permissible in Islam for women to shake hands with men?”

The Sheikh said, “Can you shake hands with Queen Elizabeth?”

The British man said, “Of course not, there are only certain people who can shake hands with Queen Elizabeth.”

The Sheikh replied, “Our women are queens and queens do not shake hands with strange men.”

Then the British man asked the Sheikh, “Why do your girls cover up their body and hair?”

The Sheikh smiled and got two sweets; he opened the first one and kept the other one closed. He threw them both on the dusty floor and asked the British man, “If I ask you to take one of the sweets which one will you choose?”

The British man replied, “The covered one.”

The Sheikh said, “That’s how we treat and see our women.”


I really hate this story. I’ll choose to ignore the fact that the analogy uses a consumption good to represent a woman, but does it not strike anyone as offensive that the justification for the dress code for women is provided solely in terms of what men might or might not find desirable? Sweets don’t have opinions, feelings, freedoms or rights; are we to treat women as though they don’t either?

Oh and by the way, apparently Queen Elizabeth shakes hands with all sorts of people, Sheikhs included.



One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] The thing is: maybe they shouldn’t. This is a manifestation of what some researchers call benevolent sexism. It’s characterized by the belief that “women are pure, moral, pedestal-worthy objects of men’s adoration, protection, and provision. People who endorse benevolent sexism feel positively toward women, but only when women conform to highly traditional ideals about “how women should be.” [See this post] […]

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