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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Can We Call This What It Is?

posted by on March 26 at 10:00 AM

The New York Times has a piece today—front page of the national section—about how more Muslim parents are opting for home schooling. But only for their girls.

Like dozens of other Pakistani-American girls here, Hajra Bibi stopped attending the local public school when she reached puberty, and began studying at home.

Her family wanted her to clean and cook for her male relatives, and had also worried that other American children would mock both her Muslim religion and her traditional clothes….

“Their families want them to retain their culture and not become Americanized,” said Roberta Wall, the principal of the district-run Independent School, which supervises home schooling in Lodi and where home-schooled students attend weekly hourlong tutorials.

Of more than 90 Pakistani or other Southeast Asian girls of high school age who are enrolled in the Lodi district, 38 are being home-schooled. By contrast, just 7 of the 107 boys are being home-schooled, and usually the reason is that they were falling behind academically.

As soon as they finish their schooling, the girls are married off, often to cousins brought in from their families’ old villages.

RSS icon Comments


What is it? Difference in culture? Shocking.

Posted by Mr. Poe | March 26, 2008 10:06 AM

"Can we call this what it is?"

Scary? I'm a little leery of forbidding home schooling, but things like this really bother me, and I'm not sure what to do about them.

Posted by Beguine | March 26, 2008 10:09 AM

I want all US citizens to be Americanized enough to belief that the Constitution is an acceptable basis for US law.

Posted by Smade | March 26, 2008 10:13 AM

Or maybe, believe. Correct English isn't a requirement, is it?

Posted by Smade | March 26, 2008 10:14 AM

They'll still get a better education at home than at school. It's ironic that if they really wanted their sons to do better in college, they'd keep them home too.

Posted by elenchos | March 26, 2008 10:15 AM

Sure, call it what it is, sexism.

Posted by Gitai | March 26, 2008 10:16 AM


Unless, of course, this "education" entirely consists of how to be obedient wives and mothers.

Posted by keshmeshi | March 26, 2008 10:17 AM

dont you know it's raceist to condemn blood thirsty barbaric cultue incompatable with our own.....I wonder what happens when these girls get married off...cant take it any more and end up running off

Posted by linus | March 26, 2008 10:17 AM

There's any fix for this, brought to us by CA: require all home school teachers to be certified by the state. That will force most of these back into the school system.

Sure the public school system these days is mainly a baby-sitting service...but I sure trust it more than the average parent out there!

Posted by fluteprof | March 26, 2008 10:21 AM

@7 The article claims the goal is that the girls will all be married off, but the don't offer any data on that. They know how many girls are home schooled, but they merely speculate about outcomes. I bet more home schooled girls go to college than the ones in the system, in spite of whatever their parents were hoping for.

@9 You're ignorance about home schooling is sad. Do you even know any home schooled kids?

Posted by elenchos | March 26, 2008 10:28 AM

Assimilation to the local culture is something we in America have never been good at.

Hey, I know, let's go bomb Iceland for the attacks in Fallujah! I hear they have WMD (Whales Meeting Death).

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 26, 2008 10:30 AM

Calling it what it is: refusal to assimilate (on the part of the parents). Keeping the girls home to cook and clean and then marrying them off as soon as they're done with school isn't the "American Way" least not anymore.

Posted by Hernandez | March 26, 2008 10:36 AM

@11, that was a joke right? the assimilation thing?

and Dan, I'd bet a lot of this has to do with how much crap Muslim girls get for wearing a hijab. It's amazing that in America, fashion that induces most high school girls to show off their underwear in low rise jeans is totally okay, or cultural values that make most girls want to get a boob job. That's fine too. But if a girl wants to wear a head scarf? Oh, well, then she's being subjugated by the MAN.

Posted by arduous | March 26, 2008 10:37 AM


Keeping adolescent and teenage girls isolated from the rest of the world is not conducive to their making their own decisions when they reach the age of 18.

In other words, I bet few to none of them go to college.

Posted by keshmeshi | March 26, 2008 10:38 AM

I'm a former homeschooler, and I know that for some students homeschooling can be a much better alternative than regular schools. But this is just a terrible reason to homeschool. I'm not fond of people who homeschool their kids to protect them from the outside world, and to do it only to girls is horrible.

@10 It's true that homeschoolers in general go to college more often, but I wouldn't bet on it in this case. They're not homeschooling them to get them a better education. If anything it's to give them a worse education.

Posted by julia | March 26, 2008 10:42 AM

@13: in fact, the hijab is EVIDENCE that muslim women are being subjugated by THE MEN of their partiarchal culture.

and other students may not just be giving them crap. "crap" to a strict, fearful muslim father could mean befriending the girl & allowing her to see what freedom to think looks like. can't have that - they might question the retarded notion that GOD doesn't want to see your hair.

these girls are being subjugated as surely as those in mormon fundamentalist polygamist "cultures".

Posted by max solomon | March 26, 2008 10:45 AM

Okay, I read the article, and honestly, it's inflammatory, contradictory, and kind of a mess. There's no thread there except that some Muslims homeschool. Yeah? So? So do a lot of Non-Muslims.

First it's about how Muslims experience prejudice in school so they're homeschooled. That I can believe. Then it's about how most immigrants DON'T homeschool, that education is why they came here, and most of the Muslims who homeschool are converts. That I can also believe. And then there's the third page about how girls are oppressed by their parents so they're homeschooled. Which, yes, I can also believe, but tell me please how this is any different from all the other oppressed Christian American girls?

This article is just one big hack job of trying to attack Islam. It's not the problem with Islam, it's the problem with a worldwide culture of sexism.

Posted by arduous | March 26, 2008 10:49 AM

@16, look I'm not a fan of the hijab, but I know a number of Muslim friends who are feminists who choose to wear it. I don't think they are being subjugated by the patriarchy. And yes, they were constantly taunted and ridiculed as teenagers.

And my point is that in American culture girls are not immune to being subjected to the patriarchy. Hence, boob jobs, low rider jeans, tight tank tops etc etc. How is that ANY better than wearing a hijab?

Posted by arduous | March 26, 2008 10:53 AM

student's who are homeschooled should be required to take tests like any other student to make sure they are being educated. it's that easy. if they are failing, then something would need to change -- such as, enrolling in a school.

certifying teachers might not do much other than create "private schools" with the same principles.

@18 if a feminist can wear a hijab, a feminist can get a boob job. likewise, a hijab or a boob job could be a sign of the patriarchy. you know this very well, so don't pretend one is innocent while the other vi(ri)le.

Posted by infrequent | March 26, 2008 11:09 AM

I think homeschooling should be illegal, in that I think every child, unless physically unable, should attend a real school.

Posted by Giffy | March 26, 2008 11:11 AM

also, i do think there should be a base level of assimilation. i don't think they should be required to say the pledge or get wear an american flag pin. but there are certain american values that ought to be promoted for all citizens: equality, justice, civility, etc...

Posted by infrequent | March 26, 2008 11:13 AM

yes, let's have white wo/men save brown women from brown men. That's had a great track record for fixing EVERYTHING. What's with this: look-at-other-'backward cultures'-see-we Americans-aren't-the-only-ones-bullshit Dan? How is this not holding up America as still the exception?

Posted by jasperkeane | March 26, 2008 11:24 AM

# 21

Civility? American values??? Civility?????

--- dies laughing

Posted by Cassie | March 26, 2008 11:24 AM

Yeah, you guys should send your police to kick in my front door and take my son and put him in your schools to make sure he learns about freedom and liberty and justice and all that good shit you stand for.

Posted by elenchos | March 26, 2008 11:35 AM

i know, i know. i didn't really know what word to use. we joke about it, but there really is civility in this country to a degree.... there are holes certainly, but without it you cannot interact at all. i'm talking about base levels of civility -- such as respecting women's rights, not bombing your neighbors over a dispute, etc. but, yes, it does sound silly to say that, especially on a forum.

Posted by infrequent | March 26, 2008 11:38 AM

@22, well since this is happening in our country, I think we have a right to say, sorry, but here we live in the 21st century, or at least the 20th.

If you don;t like that we let our women do dangerous things like leave the house or have identities, then don't move here. I sure as hell have no desire to move to Pakistan and bitch about they don't share my values.

Posted by Giffy | March 26, 2008 11:46 AM

@20, WHY do you think it should be illegal? Homeschooling is a perfectly legitimate alternative to regular schooling, and in many cases (such as mine, for instance) it's a way to get a superior education than what can be found in public schools.

If you're concerned about homeschoolers that aren't getting a good education, there are ways to prevent that, like standards and requirements, with testing if necessary as someone suggested above. But please don't assume that homeschoolers are all ignorant religious hicks. Homeschooled kids actually do better on average than kids in regular schools.

Posted by julia | March 26, 2008 11:46 AM

@19, sure there are SOME feminists who get boob jobs. my point is that western fashion is not BETTER or MORE FEMINIST.

Posted by arduous | March 26, 2008 11:52 AM

@28. yes, western fashion is better and more feminist, if for no other reason than it includes boob jobs, hijabs or neither.

Posted by infrequent | March 26, 2008 11:57 AM

@13 - no, that wasn't a joke. Assimilation is what we claim we do in the US (melting pot) but what we're actually very bad at. In Canada, for example, they like to be multicultural, but they are far better at enforced assimilation - it's very hard to get by without conforming to language requirements and they're pretty upfront about their common culture.

We pretend we assimilate people, but we really don't. Unless you count gang culture, then we're pretty good at that.

Just a cultural anthropology assessment (yes, Fnarf, I have training in this you dweeb).

Posted by Will in Assimilated Seattle | March 26, 2008 12:04 PM

I don't think there's anything wrong with homeschooling, when its done well ("done well" encompassing a wide range of things that are off-topic here). But, I don't think home schooling your child for the purposes of sheltering them from the outside world (in order to limit their ability to make their own choices in life), is doing it well.

I also don't doubt that the a girl wearing a hijab would be subjected to some ridicule. But guess what? Lots of kids are fucking ridiculed. For being too smart, too poor, too weird, etc. Except in extreme cases, that's no reason to pull your child out of school.

All that being said, I agree with arduous in that the full article didn't exactly have a clear purpose or argument. It was sort of all over the place...

Posted by Julie | March 26, 2008 12:04 PM

@13 is right, and it's not just the US where the Hajib (a veil imposed by the Turks when they conquered the Muslim lands before themselves becoming assimilated) is a problem - it's France as well. And a number of other countries.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 26, 2008 12:09 PM

@18: you can also be a feminist and be DELUSIONAL.

now, i'm no muslim scholar, but to me, the hijab, the chador, the burkha, etc., are indicative of an perverse & arrested attitude towards sex. disregarding whatever "Allah" said to Muhammad, it assumes all men are rapists-in-waiting, & the logical response to that is that all women should be de-sexualized & look like nuns.

perhaps this makes sense historically, but intellectualizing your oppression & adopting it as a flag of liberation from permissive western sexual decadence don't mean you're right.

Posted by max solomon | March 26, 2008 12:14 PM

@33 Right on. No matter how you try to spin it, the hijab is inherently patriarchal.

Posted by julia | March 26, 2008 12:20 PM

I guess what I find so pathetic is that any random parent who decides to try their hand at home schooling does better on average than our supposedly professional "educators" in our schools. The data support this -- correct for parental education, income, zip code, you name it, and the outcome is better than the schools can do. So saying "homeschooling is great when done right" obscures the fact that any randomly selected home school parent is more likely to be doing it right than any randomly selected public or private schoolteacher. Which is shocking, but true.

And aside from educational outcomes, I reject the common belief that bullying, sexual harassment, and taunting are acceptable or tolerable. I don't consider these behaviors "normal." Maybe if our schools weren't run with the belief that this behavior was the way things have to be, they'd be able to educate better than a rank amateur.

Posted by elenchos | March 26, 2008 12:20 PM

I've got an alternative solution for them. If they don't want their daughters to become Americanized DON'T BRING THEM TO AMERICA. See how easy that is? You can bet if I moved to Saudi Arabia they would expect me to be Saudi Arabianized. I would have to stay separate from women, I wouldn't be able to wear red on Valentines day, I would have to obey all of their ridiculous customs. If they're going to expect that of people we can expect them to become Americanized if they move here.

How are lowrider jeans and boob jobs better than a Hajib? Are you kidding? It's better because women have to choose to wear lowriders or get boob jobs. Go to Saudi Arabia and see if they give their women that choice about the Hajib.

Posted by Colin | March 26, 2008 12:24 PM

@35 i agree with everything you said.

but you must consider this, almost every "random" parent who home schools their child has expressed a certain interest in the education of that child. that's not to say any random parent could do better than a teacher from the same district.

it would be great if bullying wasn't the norm. this fault of public education probably not even a consideration for home schooling, so probably should not reflect poorly on supposedly professional educators. bullying it likely there because it is difficult to handle in the current system, not because of a belief that bullying is a part of life.

Posted by infrequent | March 26, 2008 12:26 PM

idiots -- backwards, ignorant idiots -- why can't they send their kids to the real shcools so they can learn tolerance and diversity and the other values that we Slog readers uphold?? Their rigid, exclusionary culture is intolerable and up with it we shouldn't put.

Posted by unPC | March 26, 2008 12:31 PM

@33, and this is probably why a lot of Muslims feel like they'd rather pull their kid out of school. Because we are so quick to go Judgey McJudgerson on their daughters who may even be FEMINISTS (but of course delusional) for wearing a freaking hijab. It's a head scarf. Not a chastity belt.

It's very easy to judge other cultures and be like, oh they're so backwards. It's very nice to stand on your freaking pedestal and think, oh well in America, WE don't make our girls wear hijabs. We don't brainwash our would-be feminists to wear that stuff.

If you want to rail about hijabs and how it's about submitting to patriarchy fine. Like I said, I personally don't like the hijab. But I respect my friends who wear one, and I respect their intellect enough to understand that they have their own reasons and they aren't little brainwashed girls.

And I completely fail to see why it's okay in western society to get a boob job or to wear short skirts or low cut tops or wear jeans so low your panties show, clothing that is all for the benefit of the patriarchy, but wearing a head scarf means you are opressed.

Posted by arduous | March 26, 2008 12:33 PM

On home schooling:
The reports that show how great homeschooling are vs public schools are misleading.

Homeschooled children will generally show better results than public schools because they have parents that care about their education. They help their kids with their homework. They show the kids that they value education.

Many public school kids have parents that don't care about education. They don't help with homework. Many kids are raised not to care about those things.

If you want to do an honest study on whether homeschooling is an advantage over public schooling you have to take out the other parts of the equation. Compare homeschooled kids to public schooled kids with parents that value education, help with homework and create a supportive environment to live and learn in. Then come back and tell me if homeschooling is actually any better.

Posted by Colin | March 26, 2008 12:51 PM

Colin, you obliviously have not been to Saudi Arabia, and you obviously have not read the studies that you think you know so much about.

Posted by elenchos | March 26, 2008 1:05 PM

Howm skooling is alwazs a gud thing. I waz howm skooled and im glad becuze it mad me a gud cristan.

Posted by gud cristan | March 26, 2008 1:25 PM

After all that . . . on the main point of the original post:

Let's be honest here. The article says:
"Of more than 90 Pakistani or other Southeast Asian girls of high school age who are enrolled in the Lodi district, 38 are being home-schooled. By contrast, just 7 of the 107 boys are being home-schooled, and usually the reason is that they were falling behind academically."

These people aren't pulling their daughters out of school so they'll get a better education. If they were doing that they'd be taking their sons out too. They're doing it for full control. To make sure they can marry the girl off to whoever they want. This is a domination issue for the girls. It's bad for the girls and it's worse for us. The last thing we need in this country are more people who don't accept or understand our society, live isolated from the rest of us and see us as an enemy. It is in everyones best interest that we all speak the same language and accept the predominant culture. Not to say you can't remember your roots and practice your own culture but you have to be willing to assimilate to some extent.

Posted by Colin | March 26, 2008 1:25 PM

Ensuring that children have more choices naturally entails restricting the choices of parents. Adults generally consider restricting their children's choices to be a valuable right (that's how religions persist). And children can't vote. Children have few rights that they can enforce against their parents, aside from the right to be free from physical and sexual abuse. We're unlikely to see adults' freedom to control their children curtailed anytime soon.

Posted by Sister Y | March 26, 2008 1:31 PM

is no one else outraged at the clarification of Pakistan as Southeast Asian? It's South or SE. It and Iran are like the big Arizona of Asia. SE Asia is usually Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Let them homeschool if it teaches them basic geography.

Posted by MacJ | March 26, 2008 1:38 PM

Also #40 - good explanation in plain English of why regression analysis (and/or proper sampling in the first place) is needed.

I bet if you corrected just for ONE of the strong predictors of educational success, like parents' income or parents' marital status, the difference between home schooled kids and non-home-schooled kids would disappear.

Posted by Sister Y | March 26, 2008 1:39 PM

@35. Obviously one component of judging whether homeschooling is "done right" are educational outcomes, but another is the social outcomes. I’m sure it’s obvious to you as someone who homeschools, but parents who homeschool have to make a concerted effort to make sure that their children have the right amount and type of social interaction with other children. In my mind this aspect is almost as important for setting your kids up for success/life as adults.

I know more than a few people my age (late 20s) who were homeschooled. A good friend of mine could be a poster child for homeschooling "done right" (he just spoke at a panel at a homeschooling convention, so this is a topical discussion for me). But, others have not been so lucky – some just do not have the social skills or “EQ” or whatever you want to call it to make friends, act appropriately in relationships, have good conflict resolution skills, etc.

Anyways, my friends and I have something we call the “homeschool moment”. Where, when you’ve met someone, maybe you’ve known them for a bit, and you find out they were homeschooled and suddenly all the little things that were off with how they related to other people all make sense. There are plenty of good reasons to home school and many parents do it very well, but there’s more to bear in mind than just the quality of the education.

Posted by Julie | March 26, 2008 1:51 PM

@43, wow, what a load of xenophobic bs. First of all, it's an arranged marriage. On both sides. Which means the boy doesn't have a choice either. It's heavy handed hysterical reporting to talk about girls being married off to boys when the boys are just as equally married off to girls. It's reflective of a different culture where parents are deemed to have the right to determine such things.

Secondly, nothing in this article has anything to do with language. Most South Asian immigrants speak damn good English. Thirdly, what the EFF is the predominant culture? In fact, religious diversity and tolerance is one of the hallmarks of American "culture," something your post seems to be lacking in.

And Will, I don't know where the hell you get your "evidence" that America does not assimilate immigrants well, but none of the reading I've read has suggested that. In fact, there's a lot of evidence that because America DOES NOT enforce assimilation (ie France's ban on the hijab) people are less likely to be extremists about their culture.

Posted by arduous | March 26, 2008 1:52 PM

The bargain has always been, "Please, come to our country. We offer security and the promise of opportunity along with a side dish of alienation. But we get your kids."

We're the Rumpelstiltskin of the world.

Posted by dirge | March 26, 2008 2:01 PM


OK. So why do the boys get to go to school? In case you can't figure it out, it's because the boys get greater freedom, even if they eventually are married off. It's also a good indicator for how those arranged marriages will work out. The men will actually be able to get out of the house once in a while, the women will not.

Posted by keshmeshi | March 26, 2008 2:08 PM

Wow, Keshmeshi, that was more than a little condescending and not really warranted. And my parents had an arranged marriage. So I think I know a little bit about the subject, thanks.

Posted by arduous | March 26, 2008 2:13 PM

@ elenchos
You're right. I've never been to Saudi Arabia. I'm basing my statements on the many reports of their strict enforcement of religious law. The most recent one that pops into my head is a western businesswoman that got hauled off by the "crazy police" for sitting in a coffee shop with a male coworker.

As for my views on homeschooling. I've seen plenty of "studies" that say how much better homeschooling is than public schools. I have yet to see a single one that adjusts its findings to take into account caring parents that spend time helping their kids with their education. If you don't adjust for that your study means nothing.

If you can show me a single peer reviewed study that shows homeschooling is better than public schools that takes into account the large number of students with parents who, let's just say, don't value education as highly as a homeschooling parent would I'll back you. I'll throw out all of my views on homeschooling and I'll come out on SLOG in full support of you and homeschooling. If you find me two studies like that I'll post a video on youtube of me dancing a jig in a loincloth. Good luck.

Posted by Colin | March 26, 2008 2:22 PM


It's funny: that "homeschool moment" that you describe is what first attracted me to the idea. As an athiest I have no love for fundies; it was something else. I always felt like the homeschooled people I met had it together better. More poised, stable, thoughtful, and empathic. I suppose you could say they seem a little odd, but I have a hard time pointing to it being in a bad way. Looking at how many products of the system are in jail or addicted to drugs or have killed themselves, I think an extremely high number of them would have to show some really awful conflict resolution and relationship skills before you'd have an indictment of homeshcooling.

At the very least, I respect that you speak of things you personally know about, instead of wildly imagining horrible things about people they've never met.

@57 Colin, I don't get why you don't just type "homeschool study" into Google and see for yourself. The jig in a loincloth thing on YouTube sounds creepy and weird and I'd be happy to never go there. There's a ton of references listed in WikiPedia on the subject, but if you don't read them I'm fine with that. I'd call it a net win if there's no loincloth video to be seen by anyone.

If you want to think that the outcomes are all due to the differences in parents and not the school versus home setting, all that does is reinforce the idea that parents are what matters: given that how a kid turns out depends on parental attitudes and parental skills, where does anybody get off saying they want to force everybody's kids into the system? Why so much interest in taking control of the very kids who you shouldn't be worried about?

You really should be wondering why you look at Pakistani immigrants that you have never met and imagining that they see America as an enemy. You don't know these people. You're projecting your own paranoia onto them.

Posted by elenchos | March 26, 2008 2:39 PM

Holy living fuck ...
The virginity/wholesome double standard always kind of irked me ...

Posted by OR Matt | March 26, 2008 2:45 PM
You really should be wondering why you look at Pakistani immigrants that you have never met and imagining that they see America as an enemy. You don't know these people. You're projecting your own paranoia onto them.

THANK YOU. That was brilliantly put.

Posted by arduous | March 26, 2008 2:50 PM

Personaly I don't believe in home schooling ... well it's incredibly selfish on parents. I don't care how "cool" or "liberal" or tollerant you think you are, there are some things children kind of have to figure out for themselves. One of my best friends was home schooled, never really left home at all until he went to grad school. I think was 27 or 28 before he finally lost his virginity (and it wasn't because he was Christian). Raised in a VERY republican farm family (just not a christian republican farm), it really pains him to see that most civilized societies just don't and can't really live up to the "conservative ideal". There are just some things your parent's are wrong on. PERSONALLY wrong, and it's not a politcal/religious thing, it's a personal thing, and sheltering your child doesn't help this.

It's because having your parents constantly around to treat you as the children they want you to be (and it's not like you do it on purpose, it's ingrained psychologically) usually does distort the development of a childs individuality. It really puts a child under a microscope.

So all of you liberal home schoolers, get over yourselves please ...

Posted by OR Matt | March 26, 2008 2:58 PM

elenchos and aduous -- you are both being disingenuous to suggest that there are not problems. nobody here is saying that parents couldn't do a good job home schooling, or that girls shouldn't cover their heads, or that arranged marriages are inherently bad. we are saying look at this particular situation: the girls are being treated different than the boys. they are being deprived freedoms. they are likely not wearing the hijab as a sign of their feminist views. we don't want to rob them or their parents of their culture. we are not afraid of them. we just want to make sure they are not discriminated against, as that is what appears to be occurring.

Posted by infrequent | March 26, 2008 3:09 PM

One more thing, I LOATHE the habib, it seems to me that when women are required to wear it, it's a symbol of oppression. When they are not required to wear it, it's a symbol of religious freedom and feminism. In France, and I agree 100%, the whole covered in head to toe thing is a security risk because it prevents people from being identified, but making it illegal is a form of religious oppression!

It's a useless archaic garment that does nothing but divide and create contraversy ... which lets face it, it was DESIGNED to do that. It's what muslums do, and what people who aren't muslums don't do.

Posted by OR Matt | March 26, 2008 3:09 PM


You still haven't addressed why the girls are being kept at home and what that says about their future prospects and their freedom as teens and as future adults.

For the record, I am very familiar with the Pakistani immigrant community and the double standard most first generation Pakistani immigrants have towards their daughters and sons. My point stands: the girls don't get personal freedom, unless they want to be disowned by their families (at best).

Posted by keshmeshi | March 26, 2008 3:11 PM

Where did I say there are no problems? I'm only saying all else being equal, I'll take my chances with the parents before I trust the schools. If these Pakistani girls have fundamentalist parents, making them go to school is not likely to make a difference; if anything it will only add to their problems.

But it's really too bad the NYT article didn't do much to actually find out how these girls turn out instead of just speculating.

Posted by elenchos | March 26, 2008 3:24 PM

One final comment, elenchos. I completely recognized your version of the “homeschool moment” (i.e., more poised, thoughtful, etc.) in my poster child friend. And, I realize this is only my experience, but, he is the only one of the homeschooled people I know for whom religion and/or keeping kids “safe” from the big, bad world were not reasons why his parents home schooled. Perhaps those folks are less likely to do all the things you need to do as a home school parent to make sure your kids have a healthy social development as well.

Obviously, plenty of kids who go through the public school system end up as delinquents (and, obviously, you could argue whether that’s a product of the school system or the home environment). But, parents who homeschool and don’t pay attention to social development are virtually guaranteed to produce an adult who is “off” in how they interact with others.

Posted by Julie | March 26, 2008 3:33 PM

@59, first of all, I've already made it clear that I thought the article in question was badly written and salacious. So I question it out of hand. My point in discussing the arranged marriages was not that I don't believe that some Islamic women are oppressed, I do. My point was that the article was typical shoddy journalism, what with its breathless remarks about how the girls are married off to boys from the villages. I was pointing out that arranged marriage cuts both ways. In general, I think Eastern culture is MORE restrictive over youngsters than Western culture for men and women alike. Some girls don't get personal freedom, but frankly, neither do a lot of boys. Boys are also not always free to marry who they choose. If they do, they are also in danger of being disowned.

There is a wide range of attitudes in the Pakistani and Muslim communities. Some Pakistani familes are extremely socially liberal. Some aren't. And this is true of Pakistan as well.

In general, I think that it's very easy for westerners to adopt a sense of smug superiority that, "Oh we're better than them." I find this dangerous. It's very easy to pick on Islamic communities in the US because Islam in general is so feared and disliked. Witness Or Matt's comments or Colin's. While I would and do find it reprehensible when some Islamic girls are oppressed, I ALSO find it reprehensible when I see white female teens in LA who ask and receive boobs jobs as a 16th birthday present. I also find it sad when a Southern Baptist girl says that her mission in life is to get married, and obey her husband. My point is not that double standards don't exist in some Muslim communities, but that double standards exist in many, many other communities.

To me the point of this badly written article was not about how sexism is bad. It was about how Muslims are bad. That's what I object to.

Posted by arduous | March 26, 2008 3:36 PM

I have looked at different studies and none of them have said anything about adjusting for the parental influence I'd mentioned.

I absolutely agree that the main difference is in the parenting. I've never said that we should "force everybody's kids into the system". I think that homeschooling may work well for some people, catholic school may work well for some people and charter schools may work for others. Just like College is best for some while trade schools are better for others.

What I'm saying is that none of the studies I've found on Google or referenced in Wikipedia actually tell us that homeschooling is better than public schools. They only indicate that having a parent that's active in your educational process will help you get a better education. This isn't news, we already know that.

I'm totally with you on the Loincloth. I'm glad you can't prove me wrong because I don't like that idea either.

As for the "SE Asian" immigrants. I don't imagine their disdain for us and our society. They are actively keeping their daughters (it was specific on the daughters, not sons) from integrating with society. They're making sure they stay isolated from us.

Posted by Colin | March 26, 2008 3:40 PM
nobody here is saying that parents couldn't do a good job home schooling, or that girls shouldn't cover their heads, or that arranged marriages are inherently bad.

Infrequent, I think they are. See Or Matt's comments about the "habib" as he mistakenly calls it. See Colin's xenophobic statements on how Saudi Arabians should just go back to where they came from. See Max Solomon's and Julia's denouncing of the hijab as automatically patriarchal.

I am in agreement with you that I don't like to see girls discriminated against. But personally I don't think the NY Times writer who wrote this piece gives a DAMN about sexism. I think this is less about sexism and more about racism and discrimination against Muslim immigrants.

Posted by arduous | March 26, 2008 3:44 PM


Fine, I'm not too ignorant in that I don't recognize that there are MANY different types of Islam. I do recognize that there are better more "liberal" types of islam than others. I still don't like Islam, and I don't find it threatening thank you.

The veil happens to a be extremely controvercial among muslims themselves and goes in and out of fashion with generations. It seems to be something muslims hold onto more when their heritage is being threatened. My sisters best friend happens to be Afgani royalty and was smuggled out as an infant. The veil was banned in the palace and outlawed for a short period of time in the country. The people really wanted it ... so they had to bring it back. The turks wear the veil after marriage I believe, it was something that was voluntarily worn by muhamed's first wife as a sign of commitment to her husband, and obviously after their marriage. At the end of the day, not all muslims like the veil, and not all Jews are kosher.

Fundamentally, Islam asigns VERY explicit roles for both men and women. They vary to a certain degree, but I am very much against that.

Mostly I'm against religion because it's overtly family friendly. It ostrisizes people who find themselves between childhood and starting a family. And it's especially critical to those aren't really going to have a family. Overtly religious people seem more or less content forcing people into long term loveless breeding contracts... but hell I was raised catholic.

Posted by OR Matt | March 26, 2008 3:54 PM

arduous, hmmm, well your view is certainly interesting. you see an article motivated by fear and nationalism. when i read that article, i see girls who are being robbed of freedoms in america. i suppose both are problems. but in context of defending the hijab, it sounds like you are defending these particular home schoolers instead of admonishing the writer.

i'll take freedom any day. i value freedom more than just anything save justice. (not to mention that equality is a part justice.)

elenchos, yeah, sorry. i guess in reading your vehement defense of home schools in the context of this thread i thought you were defending the home schooling this article refers to.

Posted by infrequent | March 26, 2008 4:04 PM

@66, I actually brought up the hijab as a reason that Muslim parents might decide to homeschool their daughters. Muslim girls face a lot of ridicule and insults when they wear a hijab. I disagree with that. And I think that WHETHER OR NOT you agree or disagree with a hijab is irrelevant in such a situation. America is about religious freedom. It is not your choice whether or not someone else wears a hijab in America, nor should it be, in my opinion.

Which brings me to my second point: if you value freedom, then surely you value the freedom of a Muslim woman to wear the hijab, no?

Posted by arduous | March 26, 2008 4:14 PM

@6: ding ding ding ding ding!!! You are correct!

(not saying there aren't other reasonable responses, just that that was the one I first thought of)

Posted by feom | March 26, 2008 4:21 PM

I don't know how I feel about muslim women wearing the hijab as far as religious freedom goes. The burqas really SHOULD be a security concern and NOT because they are muslim. Imagine a photo ID of a burqa ... come on people.

I do feel uncomfortable the hijab, because it promotes useless controversy and has been used mostly oppressively. I respect the right to wear it, but uncomfortable with forcing girls to wear it.

I feel uncomfortable about all sorts of things. I remember as a child giving some rosary beads to a child whose parents where wicken and thinking I did a good thing ... now when I think about it, I feel like such a dumbass. Not because I lost faith in it, but what gave me the right as one brain washed child to impose my religion on another brain washed child. But hell, children are mostly an extenstion of their parents anyways, right?

Posted by OR Matt | March 26, 2008 4:24 PM

I don't know how I feel about muslim women wearing the hijab as far as religious freedom goes. The burqas really SHOULD be a security concern and NOT because they are muslim. Imagine a photo ID of a burqa ... come on people.

I do feel uncomfortable the hijab, because it promotes useless controversy and has been used mostly oppressively. I respect the right to wear it, but uncomfortable with forcing girls to wear it.

I feel uncomfortable about all sorts of things. I remember as a child giving some rosary beads to a child whose parents where wicken and thinking I did a good thing ... now when I think about it, I feel like such a dumbass. Not because I lost faith in it, but what gave me the right as one brain washed child to impose my religion on another brain washed child. But hell, children are mostly an extenstion of their parents anyways, right?

Posted by OR Matt | March 26, 2008 4:24 PM

Arduous, I am free to see the Hijab, & the medieval monotheism of Islam, any fucking judgemental way I see fit. All I am required to do is TOLERATE those who choose to wear it, or force their daughters to wear it. Which I do, and do for every other religion I find abhorrent.

And, as a Feminist, I get to think that BOTH the hijab & implants are evidence of patriarchal oppression.

If kids get shit for wearing it at school, tough shit. Welcome to the club. Kids have always gotten shit from other kids for being different: tall, short, fat, gay, black, dark black, high yellow, white, asian, latino, jewish, glasses, ugly, zits, etc., etc. ad nauseum. Getting shit for being different is an American tradition. Hell, its a HUMAN tradition, no doubt practiced with glee in every elementary school in every country on the planet. If you have a clue how to stop immature apes from being immature apes, do share.

Posted by max solomon | March 26, 2008 4:43 PM

@67 i'm not going to answer that question for two reasons: 1) i've already answered it, and 2) IT IS SEXISM!!!! end of story.

i couldn't care less about some minor detail in the big picture here. i see a story the displays PURE SEXISM. you want to press some point about freedom used as justification by parents to pull only their girls out of school?

Her family wanted her to clean and cook for her male relatives, and had also worried that other American children would mock both her Muslim religion and her traditional clothes.

Posted by infrequent | March 26, 2008 4:44 PM

oh no, i need to clarify. i see pure sexism in the act or removing the girls only from public school, NOT in the hijab (as i said previously).

i would guess that more women wearing the hijab are oppressed then are wearing it as an act of feminism. i would also guess that most women who have breast implants are not in the more restrictive, sexist, environment.

Posted by infrequent | March 26, 2008 4:50 PM

infrequent... aren't most women getting breast implants, cancer survivors? I know the FDA has only recently approved silicone implants for cancer survivors (unless that changed in the past year.) As a male, I don't know how are women SUPPOSED to feel about their breasts? Adequite? Inadequite? Restricted? I'm not schooled in the feminist view on their own breasts. I would rather know as to not try to be offensive.

And can someone try to argue with me that Islam is not an inherantly VERY sexist religion (although from what I am told, most converts are women.) At the very minimum if men and women are equal, they have very specific gender roles in what they are allowed to contribute to society.

So putting this togethor, in America you have the freedom to practice whatever sexist religion you want, so long as you enter it voluntarily.

Posted by OR Matt | March 26, 2008 4:58 PM

Infrequent, I suspect we are actually not as far apart on this issue in reality as we appear to be on this comment thread.

I think at base, we're focusing on different things. Case in point this quote:

Her family wanted her to clean and cook for her male relatives, and had also worried that other American children would mock both her Muslim religion and her traditional clothes.

While you are focusing on the first half of the clause, I am focusing on the second half of the clause. While I find the first half of the clause deplorable, I am more focused on the second half of the clause for a couple reasons:

1) When immigrants feel their culture is under attack, they are more likely to be MORE conservative and restrictive, not less.
2) I think the article in a sense implicitly condones the latter half of the statement (mockery of Islamic culture) which I disagree with.

And just so you know, I'm sorry I asked you about the hijab re: religious freedom in America. I didn't intend to insult you, it was meant more rhetorically as I *did* already knew your answer. I was just trying to point out that for a lot of people, though not you, will pay lip service to religious freedom, but then will turn around and say the hijab should be banned.

Posted by arduous | March 26, 2008 5:12 PM

This anecdote makes a poor case for homeschooling. California recently made a ruling that could potentially ban homeschooling. I wonder if other states will follow suite?

Posted by Dougsf | March 26, 2008 6:24 PM

Can we send these girls to that high school in Fayetteville, AR, and take some heat off of that hopeless loser kid?

Posted by CP | March 26, 2008 8:22 PM

@62 "...I think that it's very easy for westerners to adopt a sense of smug superiority that, "Oh we're better than them." I find this dangerous."

Well, obviously our society is better in some ways otherwise they wouldn't be trying so hard to get here. I'm not saying that Westerners are fundamentally better people, just that the Western way of life is better. If you don't think it's better then why move here? Seriously, if you don't like our ways and don't want to assimilate then just don't immigrate.

Posted by clarity | March 27, 2008 12:07 AM

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