Survey reveals how people in Muslim nations believe women should dress
Egyptian women wearing "Niqab" line up outside a polling station to vote in the second round of a referendum on a disputed constitution drafted by Islamist supporters of President Mohammed Morsi in Giza, Egypt on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012. (AP / Amr Nabil)
Published Thursday, January 9, 2014 1:47PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 9, 2014 11:02PM EST
A chart illustrating what people in Muslim countries think women should wear in public is being met with both fascination and derision.
The survey polled men and women in seven Arab countries about which style of dress they thought was most appropriate for women to wear in public. There were six possible answers, including a full blue burqa, which completely covers the head and face; a hijab, which covers the hair but not the face; as well as no head covering at all.
Overall, respondents in four of the countries chose a tightly-fitted white hijab covering the hair and ears. In Saudi Arabia, the majority preferred a black niqab, which covers most of the face except for a slit near the eyes.
In Lebanon, almost half the respondents chose no head covering at all. The Pew Centr authors suggested “this may partly reflect the fact that the sample in Lebanon was 27 per cent Christian.” In Turkey, 32 per cent preferred no head covering, as did 15 per cent of Tunisians.
The study also asked respondents: "Should women be able to choose their own clothing?"
In four of the seven countries, close to half said yes, they should, including 47 per cent in Saudi Arabia and 56 per cent in Tunisia. In Egypt, only 14 per cent of respondents thought women should choose their own clothes.
While the study was released in mid-December, the Pew Center graphic has been making the rounds on Twitter since it was released Wednesday. Some are expressing surprise at the findings, but others are taking issue with it.
Journalists Fatima Manji and Dalia Hatuqa both seemed to feel the graphic was reductive, turning Muslim women into cardboard “cutouts” base on their dress. They also wondered why the survey asked about women’s clothing at all.
What is this fascination w what Muslim women wear? Can Pew tell me more about how ppl in 'Western' countries prefer women 2 dress in public?— Dalia Hatuqa (@DaliaHatuqa) January 9, 2014
Awful Pew study about how "Muslim countries want women to dress" UGH. So problematic. Reduces women down to card cartoon characters...— Fatima Manji (@fatimamanji) January 8, 2014
Blogger Karl Sharro didn't seem impressed either, creating his own parody graphic:
An Arab university ran this fascinating poll about what is most appropriate for American women to wear in public. pic.twitter.com/uIta80i1f8— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) January 9, 2014