oddly enough, photoblogging

The Veiled Barbie.

The NYT reports about the stunning success of a hijab wearing Barbiesque doll in the Middle East. Introduced in late 2003, the doll carrying the brand “Fulla” is reportedly available in “every corner store”. For those who aren’t fortunate enough to be able to afford the doll there is Fulla-branded chewing gum.

It’s an interesting development – as the paper reports, other companies, including Mattel, the owner of the Barbie brand, have product lines of veiled dolls marketed in Islamic countries, yet no foreign company was able to claim the cultural authenticity, that seems to have allowed Fulla to succeed to the extent she has.

Some seem to see this as a consequence of the growing cultural influence of conservative Islam in the Middle East, indicating that such a venture would not have succeeded 10 years ago, and that the doll serves well to perpetuate the importance of the veil –

“My friends and I loved Barbie more than anything,” she said. “But maybe it’s good that girls have Fulla now. If the girls put scarves on their dolls when they’re young, it might make it easier when their time comes. Sometimes it is difficult for girls to put on the hijab. They feel it is the end of childhood.” “Fulla shows girls that the hijab is a normal part of a woman’s life,” Ms. Ghayeh continued. She gestured behind her, at a pair of excited little girls examining a rack of Fulla-branded Frisbees and pool toys. “Now the girls only want Fulla.”

Not that I think it is appropriate to deny any woman the right to wear (or not wear) whatever she deems appropriate for whichever reason. However, while possible, it is unlikely that Fulla’s success is not at least partly related to recent geopolitical shifts in the Arab world – a region filled with peoples which are seemingly desperately trying reinvent their identities by reuniting their cultural and religious heritage with the world around them. So, while I’m sure that Fulla’s success will cause some concern among those hoping for the continously growing amount of young Arabs to achieve that, we know by now that it is usually a difficult and rather violent process. So I’m not sure Fulla isn’t actually a positive development.

Too bad that she will lead a rather lonely life – despite the fact that the company producing the doll is apparently called “NewBoy, Inc.”, there are no plans for a young handsome Arab Ken-doll.

almost a diary, oddly enough

Left behind what?

Spam is almost always annoying. Comment spam is the worst, because it requires additional attention, not rarely amounting to more time than it take to write a blog post. But there is also the rare instance where spam is fun or prompts reflection about its underlying social meaning, as in today’s case.

Don’t get left behind” was the headline. “Add three inches today!” the goal – I’m assuming you’re familiar with the kind of addition offered -, and the way to do that was buying pills that my doc would most certainly frown upon, to say the least.

I know we guys tend to be competitive for the better or worse. It’s probably what evolution “had in mind” for a good number of reasons. I am also aware that the sexual evolution has brought about the general features of male primary sexual organ about whose size and functionality so many kind advertisers are so concerned about to offer help via email. But I wasn’t aware that technological advances had already turned a man’s endowment into a race to be fought individually let alone by taking pills.

So assume for the moment I decided to “add three inches” by taking the miracle pills. And then all other guys decided to do so, too. And if only size mattered… would I not be forced to eventually repeat the experiment? And wouldn’t all others? Would men eventually come to their minds and end a mostly certainly disfunctional sexual arms race? Or would we be more like the lemmings… (which I assume is what most girls believe ;))

I’m glad I won’t have to think about it anymore until I get the first spam about helping girls to cope with all those added inches… I’ll keep you posted.

almost a diary, compulsory reading

Alice S.

Well, I suppose it had to happen one day. And when it happened, it was not quite like you imagined it would be – sound familiar? Well, I am of course talking about meeting Alice Schwarzer, one of Simone de Beauvoir’s “groupies” and the best known German feminist.

I am quite certain that today’s event about the “Islamic headscarf as a system [of oppression]” was as much a marketing event for her feminist magazine, EMMA, as it was aggressive, intellectually, as well as personally disappointing. Details to follow – probably on afoe. Let me just say for the minute that Frau Schwarzer’s rather conciliatory television appearances of late are – and I think I can fairly judge that from having attended said talk – are not what the woman is still about. She’s still entirely immersed in the strange mythology that is radical feminism, and everyting she says has to be interpreted from this very narrow point of view.

Moreover, gentle readers, should ever encounter a feminist claiming that language is subtly biased towards the suppression of women, tell her that Ms Schwarzer’s language, including the assertion that women wearing the tchador “are not really human”, made several of the initially present veiled women leave in anger. Not that some of their statements were much less aggressive, yet it was Ms Schwarzer who pointed out that condescension has no place in this debate. When I called her on it, she simply said it was “self explanatory sarcasm.”

Well, not too self-explanatory, apparently. In general, the debate – organised by a group of Iranian exiles – revealed the political salience of the hijab issue in all possible dimensions. Sadly, for an issue that is so close to female sexuality, all that German feminism appears to have to offer are recylced labels.

Sorry mum, I know you like her, but I’m beginning to think Ms Schwarzer is one of them.

almost a diary, oddly enough


Well, tomorrow I’m going to attend a little talk and discussion about the hijab with Germany’s most prominent feminista, Alica Schwarzer. So I’ve been reading up a little on the web about her and the history of feminism, and feminist positions on a variety of things… so – click, click, click – I find myself on the English wikipedia page on prostitution where I was stunned to read the following about certain oral under-the-table services apparently included with the price of a drink (sic!) in certain Thai clubs –

“To not make a mess, it is common that the bars require the women to swallow the sperm. It is also not uncommon for the women not to eat before coming to work on an expected busy night and expecting to be full by the end of that night on sperm alone.”

Quite frankly, there are a lot of disgusting things that can be done by consenting adults (assuming for the time being that’s what the article was in reference to) – but … ewww. I am at loss for words. Dis-gus-ting.


Girl Power.

Ladies, remember that guy you met last weekend? The disgusting one that drooled in your décolletée while trying to impress you by pretending not to stare too much? Turns out, he wasn’t that guilty after all – according to a study conducted at the University of Chicago and published in the journal Evolution And Human Behaviour male saliva undergoes dramatic changes during small talk with women. And there goes another quality that might have differentiated human men from their counterparts in the animal kingdom. Ladies, please be kind in the future and have a doggy biscuit ready just in case. (from the Evening Standard, London’s Tube Newspaper)

quicklink, sex

Olfactory Pleasures

are more likely for those who engage in regular sexual intercourse, according to a study that has been published in the British Medical journal, reports Forbes.com’s Alan Farnham. And better sense of smell is only a small part of it: “Having regular and enthusiastic sex … confers a host of measurable physiological advantages, be you male or female.” Anyone have the Vatican’s spin on this?

oddly enough, quicklink


is German for one of the usually well lit and extremely conveniently placed discriminatory parking spots in car parks reserved for female use. A few weeks ago, I saw a comedy programme on German tv take the word literally: Husbands about to run errants parked their wifes on a “Frauenparkplatz”, leaving them holding the parking tickets in their mouths…

Well, maybe it was because of this gag that the Nox Bar in Hamburg has now started a “Maennerparkplatz”, or rather, “Maennergarten”, as in Kindergarten for men: “[f]or $11.80, [they are] offering boy’s games and home-improvement coaching as well as a meal and two beers for men left there for a Saturday afternoon, leaving women free to shop in the city’s swanky boutiques.”

I don’t know if this will survive in the long run – but they had 27 parked guys there on the project’s second saturday… who said the German service industry isn’t sufficiently innovative? [via Papascott, noted by AP last week.]