As Westerners, we have been much too judgmental about burqas; as if bagging up a nations worth of women has no purpose other than to perpetuate masculine prerogatives in a male-dominated society. But any custom that endures for hundreds of years in dozens of different places has got to serve some function. In the case of Muslim society, keeping women under wraps works toward the same ends as banning television served apartheid South Africa: It enhances contentment.
For starters, in a place where rich guys bogart all the chicks, hiding their booty under rolls of cloth is basic good manners, like the way rich Americans try not to be too ostentatious with whatever it is they do inside their walled compounds.
For the ordinary guy who somehow managed to glom onto one of the left-over chicks, universal burqaization eases the road to a long and contented marriage. Such a guy can spend 40 or 50 years looking forward to electric evenings of love with the most butt-ugly concoction of mustache hair, greasy skin, and hippopotamus thighs ever plumped down upon this planet, with never a regret, even when the neighbor lady is a cuddly, flirtatious little dark-eyed houri of a Holly Hunter or a Mary Steenburgen under her cloth.
And it’s not just in this life, either, that burqas make things easier. Paradise would be a poor place indeed if there weren’t any distinction between those 72 virgins waiting up there for their martyrs, which probably has something to do with why burqas are divinely ordained, and not just an eccentric social custom.
Keeping women a mystery on earth gives St. Peter scope to sort through the opportunities later on, and save up the Daryl Hannahs and Sophia Lorens for the guys who take down whole plane-loads of innocents. As for the second-rate doofuses who blow themselves to pieces in the bomb lab before setting out for the kindergarten, w~ll there’s something for them, too: entire harem-loads of Madeline Albrights and Janet Renos with nobody the
Spear Lancaster’s campaign for Maryland governor will have them reaching for their wiser.