The clash between radical Islam and Western modernity has led to many opportunistic analyses that are themselves essentially reactionary. In the Australian context, we have the country's most senior Muslim cleric, Sheik Hilali, demonising the pleasurable (for all concerned) and essentially harmless exercise of female sexual power when attractive young women wear clothes that display their beauty. The mufti says that this is wrong and that it invites rape - as if most men are dumb brutes who cannot control themselves when confronted by the sight of female skin.
This has led to a storm of commentary here, almost all of it denouncing the mufti's views, but much of it in a way that is itself reactionary. A good example is the op.ed. piece by Michael Keating this morning, in which he wants to compare Hilali's attitude to that of footballers who have (consensual) group sex. Both are, supposedly, "disrespectful" to women.
Keating, like many other pundits who are having their say at the moment, just doesn't get it. The issue is not about whether people are in some sense "disrespectful". For what it's worth, Hilali probably treats women with (a strange kind of) respect. The issue is about the suppression of women's sexuality, and about acts of terrible cruelty and violence that, quite rightly, led to some rapists in New South Wales facing long prison terms.
Call me an unreconstructed nerd, but I'm no great admirer of football players, most of whom strike me as little better than narcissistic thugs. Still, if there are women who enter willingly into group sex with football players, I call that an exercise of their freedom. Good for them, if that's what they want to do; I hope they enjoy the experience, and I'm glad to live in a society where it is allowed - if not exactly admired.
As long as they are consensual, the sexual antics of footballers or anyone else have nothing to do with Hilali's medieval view that women are meat, should be covered, and deserve what they get if they show their beauty outside the home. The comparison is trivialising and obnoxious.