ADVANTAGES

The discipline that a woman imposes upon herself by wearing jilbab is bound to no particular institution or figure of authority with the soleexception of an omniscient and transcendent God. Sandra Bartky draws on Foucault to examine the operation of such diffuse forms of discipline in the engendering of femininity in Western society; someof her observations are also suggestive for understanding the discipline of jil bab: "The disciplinary power that inscribes femininity in the female body is everywhere and it is nowhere; the disciplinarian is everyone and yet no one in particular" (1990:74). Although it is not "femininity" as such that is inscribed on the veiled woman's body, and certainly not a sexualized femininity of the kind that Bartky has in mind, it is the "panoptical" nature of the veil's discipline, its at once omnipresent and diffuse character (Bartky 1990; Foucault 19791, that makes it so powerful. Even when no one is really watching her, the veiled woman feels that she is under surveillance-from neighbors and friends, from God, and from her own conscience, which may bethe harshest disciplinarian of all. Theexternal

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