On the front page of its October 19, 2012, edition, the Washington Post published a photo of two Saudi women wearing burqas – clothing which leaves visible only the eyes of the women. The photo accompanies an article that mentions one of the women, Batoul Alawi al-Awami, and the caption under the photo identifies Awami as the woman on the left. But because the faces of the two women, except for the eyes, are completely covered, they are basically indistinguishable.
So, what exactly is the point of identifying Awami as the woman on the left? It doesn’t make any sense in so far as photos in newspapers are supposed to show what the subject actually looks like. This is not the first such photo published by the Post and it wasn’t even needed for the article. By publishing such photos, it seems the editors want to portray burqa-clad women as perfectly ordinary while ignoring the elephant in the room: the oppression and enslavement of women by misogynists in the Mideast.
Hopefully readers will not come to view burqa-clad photos of women as commonplace and natural, despite the best efforts of the Post to make them seem so. The photos in reality are shocking, and by normalizing them, the Post is only helping the misogynists in the real war on women.