Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb

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Googling around

You all know what I mean. It's the equivalent of the encyclopedia qv run. Remember? You need or want to look up an article in the encyclopedia, and in the middle of the article there are the magic letters (qv) meaning "which see." And it's interesting, so you look up that article, and that one leads you to another and another, until either you've gone far afield or you've learned something in depth. And then you look up and the bed is full of volumes and your mom is calling you for dinner or Star Trek is finally on and that long, boring Sunday afternoon is over at last.

Googling around is the same thing, only using a search engine on the web. I was bored today at work. My main boss was out, most of the agents - I work in a real estate agency, answering the telephones - were out, and very few people called or walked in search of housing. Market's been down since September 11.

So, I googled around. I started with a search for "snoods." As an Orthodox Jewish married woman, I cover my hair outside my house, and one of my favorite means are snoods - long turbans. At work, of course, I wear berets and little cotton knit hats. I reserve major hats for synagogue, and I will not wear wigs. As I expected, most of the sites were SCA or Renaissance sites with loosely crocheted or knotted hair nets, and others were designed for dancers or were pretty nets hanging from barrettes. And I found one or two catering to Jewish women, including one for a store local to me.

But, to my surprise (although I can't say why I was surprised), I found Christian sites. So I clicked on them. And that led me on a journey that kept me interested the rest of the afternoon. Now, I mean to be totally respectful. The women and men who own these sites are sincere in their beliefs, but from my perspective it was odd.

Just as we take the law of head covering from one verse in the Torah, they take their law of head covering from one verse in Corinthians. And, in fact, there is a disagreement about that verse, which concerns the proper state of a woman's head and hair while praying. Some say that it means that a woman should cover her head at least while praying, while others say that a woman's long hair is the only covering she needs. Both agree that women should not cut their hair, as it is "their glory." Few seem to think it should only apply to married or at least post pubescent women. I saw a number of sites for head coverings for little girls. There is also a universal, or near universal, call for women to not wear trousers or shorts, just skirts and dresses, although at least one thought very full culottes might also answer.

Those in the first camp face a number of problems, starting with difficulty with their communities. Women who cover their heads can face ridicule and will certainly stand out. Another might be husbands, who resist the idea that their wives will do this. The third is, to me, odd. That is, *finding* the correct head covering. Whereas most Jewish women can chose any haircovering that is becoming, appropriate and covers everything - although some groups do insist on wigs or on scarves - so that it's possible to walk into any number of places and pick out a beret, for example, the Christian women are limited, in that they refer to these as "veilings." Hats and bandannas don't cut it - there seems to be a requirement that it be a garment clearly meant for the purpose. Now, my snoods are also clearly meant only for the purpose of covering my hair, but they are far from my only choice - and as one person said on her snood web site, they would also be great for women who have, for whatever reason, lost their hair, because they're soft and attractive and inexpensive, especially when compared to wigs. Eesh, what a sentence!

So, the sites are full of large ovals of lace, and long pleated falls of fabric that attach to the top of the head, and knit material darted to stay in place, or little lace cauls like the Amish wear, mostly covering the buns that these long haired women must wear. Okay, my own hair is near-waistlength, but it's *my* choice, and if I decided tomorrow to get a cute, short haircut, I could. On the other hand, most religious Jewish women do cut their hair short just for convenience, and there are a couple of groups where they do shave their heads, but these are rare, so not every Jewish woman does have that choice.

And I do have a community behind me. Even when I lived in my old neighborhood, where only one or two other women covered their hair even on the Sabbath, the fact that I covered my hair never made things difficult. It was just what I did - maybe it gave me a bit more respect, but probably not. &:-) Where I live now, it's the norm, almost. Almost because most women wear wigs, but hats are perfectly acceptable.

I'm not sure what my reaction is. In some ways, they're making things difficult for themselves, in others I admire them for rising up to a challenge, even a challenge made by themselves.

Mostly, I'm fascinated at this glimpse into a world almost, but not quite, parallel to my own, and I wish these women well.

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