Print Story The women of Brick Lane
Diary
By xth (Thu May 21, 2009 at 08:16:57 AM EST) Prostitution, Islam, Æon Flux (all tags)
"Finally made it to IKEA."

You'll never read a more exciting intro to a diary than that.




Playgroups and Non-playing Ladies
On the way to Edmonton, yth recounted the events of the day. She'd taken The Creature to three different play groups, to try them out. One of them was a Bengali one - we live in a predominantly Islamic area. We never actually interact with the muslims, however, a fact I consider wrong and a little sad - how can a society function when there are whole sections cordoned off from the rest like that?
Anyway, Yth, being a would-be (eh?) documentary maker, is always willing to talk to strangers and listen to their stories, and started chatting to the ladies in question. One of them was moaning about wanting to lose weight, as ladies do.

"I need to start going to the gym again. It's hard, though, there's only one women-only session per week at the local gym, and I can't make it"
"Can you not just cover your head with a head scarf and go to a normal session?"
"No, we are not allowed to be in the same room with men in vests"
"can you not just do a bit of jogging in the park then?"
"but we need to be covered"
"can you not just wear some shapeless trousers, that's what Malay women do?"
"no, it's got to be the full hijab. you can't really run with one of those"

I understand the deal with modesty - and watching those binge drinking "documentaries" British TV is awash with, I sometimes wonder whether they don't have a point. But that is not modesty, that is being subservient - which, funnily enough, is the meaning of the word 'Islam'. It only seems to work for women though. Or maybe it just depends on the interpretation, Syrian, Kurdish and Lebanese women have more personal freedom than Bangladeshi women, who may not be able to run in the park, but at least don't get their clit chopped off. Nor do they get tortured and burned as witches, as our ancestors used to do.


Working Ladies
When we finally made it back home, the proud owners of a book shelf, a high chair, and various items of tat, there was a prostitute plying her trade just in front of our house. Normally the hookers work a bit further up the road, all the way from around the corner of my house to the hospital where The Creature was born (what a thought). There must have been extra demand that night. Anyway, we were obviously bad for business unloading the car with a baby and all that, so the lady of the night got on the phone to her pimp and asked for instructions. She must not have liked what he said, because she started shouting at the phone. But a whore must always do what her pimps tells her to, so she stormed off passed us.
Not very fast though, because of her high heels.

Strong Ladies
After unloading everything we started watching the next instalment in our dystopian movies series: Æon Flux (the animation, not the crap movie). With a dominatrix as main character, it's sooooo goth it hurts. Style wise, it's Egon Schiele meets Hanna-Barbera, which is sometimes odd. It's got some great ideas in it, I love the whole vibrating men business. I haven't seen it all yet, but it's intriguing.

It's all about the ladies
As we were watching the main lady tying up a man before inflicting some pain to him, it occurred to us how bizarre it all was. Here we were, watching some male's fantasy of a dominating woman who leaps across buildings, while downstairs there was a lady who had to stand where her male owner told her in order to have sex with strangers and bring him money. She can't walk very fast because of the high heel shoes she's got to wear. In the houses just behind her some good muslim families, where the men decide where the women may or may not go, and what outfit they have to wear. They also cannot walk very fast, because of the modest clothes they have to wear.
And here it is, warts and all
A long diary, but I have no time to edit it down or even check it for errors. Have a good day.
P.S.
There's no women topic

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The women of Brick Lane | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Do you live in East London? by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu May 21, 2009 at 08:33:15 AM EST
A friend does, meeting people in the Muslim community was just a matter of joining a community group (I'll ask which if you're interested). The problem is everyone on every side expects the others to come to them, so all end up isolated.

She's quite enjoyed it. Got support from Muslims when she brought up pubs being converted into flats being detrimental to the local area.

And yeah the subservience is cultural rather than religious, most Bangladeshis in the UK are from rural areas and pretty badly educated. You'd probably get similar from hillbilly US immigrants from the Appalchians...

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It's political correctness gone mad!

hillbilly US immigrants from the Appalchians by xth (2.00 / 0) #7 Fri May 22, 2009 at 01:25:21 AM EST
They wouldn't make it out of the country, they probably see getting a passport akin to getting a Communist Party membership.

Yes I do, I live in the Brick Lane area. It is one of the least integrater area I"ve lived in, only Golders Green compares. Yth has been to some mother groups and although there's no hostility or anything, difference in lifestyle and income also mean we don't integrate very well.

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[ Parent ]
It's not very easy by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #8 Fri May 22, 2009 at 05:05:59 AM EST
My friend is the only middle-class person on the committee she joined and while there is no hostility, she does get fed up with constantly being expected to take the lead.

White middle and working classes in the area meet in the pub and I think the community is pretty strong in that way, shame Muslims don't drink really.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
You need better Muslims by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #13 Fri May 22, 2009 at 09:55:07 AM EST
the ones I work with drink.


[ Parent ]
hillbilly US immigrants from the Appalchians by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #11 Fri May 22, 2009 at 07:20:16 AM EST
Could drink an entire LHusi Beers under the table.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
Especially if they start passing some of their by xth (2.00 / 0) #12 Fri May 22, 2009 at 08:20:14 AM EST
moonshine around

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[ Parent ]
don't bet on it. by garlic (2.00 / 0) #23 Tue May 26, 2009 at 06:22:01 PM EST


[ Parent ]
I think this is very true by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #14 Fri May 22, 2009 at 11:52:14 AM EST
Muslim immigrants to the US tend to be middle and upper class professionals so you see much less of this here.  You don't really see "Muslim communities" so much, though there are certainly a ton of Muslim immigrants around.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
WIPO by Herring (4.00 / 2) #2 Thu May 21, 2009 at 05:31:40 PM EST
Kim Deal

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
no women-only gyms? by clover kicker (4.00 / 1) #3 Thu May 21, 2009 at 08:38:24 PM EST
They're all over the place in Canuckistan.

What is a gym without the smell of testosterone? by xth (2.00 / 0) #6 Fri May 22, 2009 at 01:19:53 AM EST
They must feel odd

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[ Parent ]
There is a book by Monical Ali by sasquatchan (4.00 / 2) #4 Thu May 21, 2009 at 08:49:27 PM EST
called "Brick Lane" that covers oh so many of those topics, oddly enough.

Thee was a lot of controversy about that book by xth (2.00 / 0) #5 Fri May 22, 2009 at 01:18:53 AM EST
I don't remember exactly why, but both Germanine Greer and Salman Rusdhie got involved. Perhaps I should read it

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[ Parent ]
I usually hate books like that by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #9 Fri May 22, 2009 at 05:18:17 AM EST
You know, award-winning "authentic" ones the Guardian goes on about, especially after reading"White Teeth which I though was awful. But Brick Lane is actually pretty good and very well written.

A good book about the area's Jewish past is "Rondinsky's Room" by Rachel Lichenstein and Iain Sinclair.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Same here by xth (4.00 / 1) #15 Fri May 22, 2009 at 11:55:49 AM EST
as much as I share some of the paper's political views, I am not a fan of their cultural sections, there seem a lot of snobbery and name dropping in there. I will check out those books.

'Bloody Foreigners' is full of fun facts about the waves of immigration to the area, but it's very dry and a bit tedious to read.

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[ Parent ]
Definitely recommend Rodinsky's Room by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #16 Fri May 22, 2009 at 04:53:42 PM EST
Lichenstein is a young Jewish woman trying to find her family's past so it's colourfully written. There's lots of strange stuff in it - old abandoned synagogues full of junk etc, and the little-known fact there are a lot of elderly Jewish people still in estates in the area. Iain Sinclair's bits jar a little which is odd cos he's usually very good, but they aren't a big part of the book.

It's quite sad though, all this history on the verge of being lost for ever. There were a lot of Yiddish scholars and poets in the area who's work is out of print and disappearing too.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Yth did some work with the people at by xth (2.00 / 0) #17 Fri May 22, 2009 at 05:30:37 PM EST
the old synagogue at Princelet street [http://www.19princeletstreet.org.uk/]

People who run it are not quite with it, but an interesting place, worth a visit.
When open, that is.

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[ Parent ]
Been meaning to do stuff like that by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #18 Fri May 22, 2009 at 06:22:53 PM EST
The titular Rodinsky's Room is a museum now as well, by private appointment. I have friends in the area but I don't live locally which makes sorting this stuff out tricky (if you're lazy like me anyway)

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It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
...it's the same one! by xth (4.00 / 1) #19 Sat May 23, 2009 at 04:15:48 AM EST
http://www.19princeletstreet.org.uk/press/liberation.html

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[ Parent ]
WIPO - Émilie du Châtelet [nt] by Phage (2.00 / 0) #10 Fri May 22, 2009 at 06:45:27 AM EST


Æon Flux original shorts by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #20 Sun May 24, 2009 at 09:11:27 AM EST
Made as part of MTV's "Liquid Television" are good if you can find them, or haven't seen them already.

WIPO Isabel Burton and Qiu Jin

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

Are they the ones in which Æon is silent? by xth (2.00 / 0) #21 Mon May 25, 2009 at 07:38:01 AM EST
There seem to be lots of versions knocking about.

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[ Parent ]
She is silent as I recall by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #22 Mon May 25, 2009 at 09:29:54 AM EST
Also they are much shorter, maybe 5 min? Perhaps most memorably, she dies in every episode.

There are less than ten as I recall. I liked the series it evolved into too though.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]
The women of Brick Lane | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback