For centuries, certainly ever since Lady Mary Montagu's famous letters about her visits to Turkish harems, western men have not so secretly hoped that the young lady behind her niqab is a real goer, 'if you know what I mean'.
Equal opportunity cads, they felt the same about the woman behind the custom, that until recently, required western brides to hide their faces behind veils at the ceremony.
These extreme swings, in the minds of westerners, between erotic thoughts to fearful hating thoughts Edward Said would have described as Orientalism : our inability to just see ordinary, highly individual, people behind the niqab or the bridal veil.
Unfortunately what we never seem to think is that behind her niqab is a young lady with a piece of the solution to our looming ecological crisis.
Or that behind her niqab is a young woman who is a wonderful mother to her two kids and a damn fine drugstore pharmaceutical clerk in downtown Streetsville...