Pixelation and Vexation



Ten points if you identify this darkened man in your comment!
Our family hit the mall yesterday morning. The place was nearly empty, and we strolled at our leisure. Our children trailed behind us, their attention almost completely absorbed in the visual feasts around them.

The moment was so peaceful that I reached out to take my husband’s hand. He smiled at me for an instant, and then we both gasped. “Oops, sorry!” I cringed. “Force of habit!” he chuckled. I felt like a teenager caught kissing. Hand holding is okay only between people of the same sex in Saudi Arabia.

Savannah was full of questions. Why did the models in the advertisements have pixelated or darkened faces?

“Oh,” I said, “I think it’s because in Islam, idolatry is not permitted, so art is supposed to focus on shapes and designs, not on figures.”

“Then why is it okay to show women in drawings and cartoons, like over there?”

“. . . Um, I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong about the idolatry thing. Maybe they pixelate the faces so you don’t see how beautiful the women are.”

“Then why do they pixelate the faces of little girls too?”

By this time, I had questions of my own—why is it that the religious police insist on pixelating the faces of women in photos, but in real life, the only body part a woman can show is her face (if she’s lucky)? What is the danger, really? The body or the face—shouldn’t they make up their minds?

And why not pixelate men’s faces too? Aren’t they a temptation for gay men?

These are some of the questions I’d really like a good Muslim to answer for me, but I’d never have the courage to ask them myself.