Diary

When you come to my house, take off your shoes.

This past summer I took my 12-year-old daughter to England. We feasted our eyes on the typical first-time-visitor attractions: Big Ben, Tower of London, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, blah, blah, blah. The one thing that left an indelible impression on my mind, however, is something quite mundane: Muslim women cloaked from head-to-toe in black sheets a la Halloween ghost.

On the streets of London, Muslim men, as their wives follow a step or two behind, brush past women wearing miniskirts (a trend that started in England, I learned) and tank tops. I wondered, aren’t these men afraid that their wives might be infected, through those little eye-hole slits, by Western infidels and their corrupt culture?

When I told my husband the outrage I felt for these women, he said that it was a part of their religion and culture, and for me not to be bothered by it. Come again? So religion and culture are excuses for polygamy? What about clitoridectomy? And while we’re at it, why not bring back feet binding and human sacrifice?

If these women enjoy going out in public wearing black sheets (abayat, or whatver), then yes, knock themselves out–as long as it is truly their choice. I’m willing to put serious money down that they wouldn’t mind wearing less cumbersome garb every once in a while, perhaps when it’s 90 degrees out?

Here’s a thought: “when in Rome do as the Romans do.” Why immigrate to the West, then desperately cling to everything from home? Wouldn’t it be better to just stay at home where “strange” traditions are the norm? Most treacherous of all are those who not only cling to their own ways, denounce the ways of their new home, and force those in their host country to adapt to them instead of the other way around.

When you come to my house, and you see that I’m not wearing any shoes (for me, not as much cultural as it is anal–shoes track in dirt), that would be a pretty good indicator that you should take your shoes off, too.