Lady Gaga’s good at all sorts of things – being unequivocally weird, flooding the radio with mediocre pop songs, and pissing off Muslims like Umema Aimen. The Pakistani-American is a senior at Mount Holyoke College in Pennsylvania majoring in Asian Studies (good luck getting a job!) Recently, Aimen wrote an article about Lady Gaga’s song, “Aura,” originally titled “Burqa,” for her school’s newspaper. The article was picked up by the Washington Post, and thus many came to recognize Aimen as yet another Muslimah with paper-thin skin.
In her article, Aimen wrote, “Hijab, for me, is a way of rejecting the culture that wants to characterize me by the angles and curves of my body.” Rejecting the culture, right from the horse’s mouth. If someone chooses to live here, they should at least make some effort to integrate into the culture at large. By “at large,” I’m not referring to America’s obesity epidemic. Of course, Aimen, as a Muslimah, cannot fully integrate into western culture without violating her religion’s teachings – and the liberals at Mount Holyoke College enable this instead of reminding her she’s in the wrong century.
“…I found your appropriation of my hijab crude and discourteous, to say the least,” Aimen wrote. “How could a woman who passionately empowered young girls to love their bodies tell them to sexualize those same bodies and the clothes that cover them?” What’s wrong with sexualizing your body? Sexuality is natural and is something to be proud, not ashamed, of. Of course, those with mindsets based around 7th-century fairytales probably hate their own sexuality and view it as something evil that must be controlled and contained, which is truly sad because they’d be having a much better time if they got laid.
Aimen then tried to twist Gaga’s empowering, pro-sex lyrics into having a pro-rape meaning, which they don’t. Aimen claimed that Gaga was trying to hint that the “no” represented by the burqa really meant “yes,” but that’s clearly not what the song is about if you’ve listened to it. For those who haven’t, here it is:
Aimen continued, “…you lost me when you proceeded to turn such a sacred symbol of my religion into an exotic costume. It is not something you can wear to your Halloween party.” Uhh, actually, it totally is. The niqab and burqa may as well be bedsheets draped over a person, just like most of the ghost and Ringwraith costumes out there. I frequently remind Muslimahs on here that not every day is Halloween, and they look absurd dressing up as Ringwraiths on the daily. So now I must remind Aimen that the burqa actually IS a Halloween costume, and thus a Muslimah/Ringwraith/Dementor/ninja is totally something you can dress up as for Halloween.
Aimen also commented on Lady Gaga’s appearance in a translucent burqa: “When you appeared on a fashion show catwalk last fall, draped in translucent, flimsy neon-pink fabric, your body and glittery undergarments tantalizing the onlookers, you did me damage.” She’s basically comparing Gaga’s pink burqa to blackface. The pink burqa wasn’t necessarily meant to be a parody of Islamic attire; Gaga wears weird shit like that all the time for no real reason whatsoever. Aimen, at this point, appears to be grasping at straws for minutiae to get offended over. “You see, the whole point of a burqa is to de-sexualize the way people think of me. I do it to defy the male gaze and force people to see me for my intellect and my abilities. But when you hypersexualize me, like you did in ‘Burqa [Aura],’ you dehumanize me by implying that covering myself makes me useless except as a sex toy.” People see you as a ninja or a Ringwraith – not for your intellect or your abilities – when you dress like a ninja or a Ringwraith. The lyrics of the song, again, don’t make Muslimahs seem like sex toys; the song’s lyrics are actually quite empowering and humanizing. “Do you wanna see the girl who lives behind the aura…” Yeah, suuuuuuure sounds dehumanizing to me. As for defying the male gaze – what kind of straight woman would want to do that?! It’s like condemning yourself to be an old cat lady…
“In reality, hijab liberates me because I don’t have to conform to society’s standards of beauty,” Aimen wrote. Again with the non-conformity to society, also known as non-integration. Aimen, if you don’t like the culture of the west so much, why are you still here?