Moral delemma

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Nicole
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Moral delemma

So this is a question mainly for my Muslims sisters, but I do appreciate feedback from anyone!

How do you get around men who may want a design?  Is it possible to run a henna business without hennaing males?  Or is there a way to do it without it being haraam/inapropriate?  Can you just exclude men, or does this give you a bad vibe?

Islam forbids physical contact between men and women who are not immidiate family, and while I don't mind the occasional, brief, hand shake, doing someone's henna is quite intimate.  I was planning on looking into doing the farmer's market in my community next summer, but then I thought of this issue.

Thanks!

pakeezah
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Re: Moral delemma

If it is a particular area that concerns you, e.g a back, you can simply tell the person that you dont do that area. If you generally do not wish to have any contact with men, you could put up a sign saying "Special-Women only Henna!" (My concern would be some legal eagle showing up claiming discrimination against men!). Or you could just joke it off and say "Sorry I dont do guys..I swing the other way when it comes to henna!"

Another alternative to the Farmers market is to look into your local area for womens only groups or expos going on. Or you could contact local schools and libraries and see if they would be interested in hosting you for some event.

Alternatively, do you know someone else who also does henna and you could work as a team? That way, whenever a guy shows up, you simply divert them to the other person.

Finally, Islam is not rigid and does allow exceptions to its rules. If you are planning to do this for financial need, I do not believe that you will be sinning if you have to henna a guy. Though I am not a henna artist, I dont think you will get very many male clients, so the situation will be an occasional one, not something regular.

Best of Luck with finding a solution!

Jen
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Re: Moral delemma

I think that if you don't display designs that would appeal to men, it won't come up as much as you think. Most (never say all!) men don't want frilly stuff on their hands. I've also found that most men who grow up with henna in their lives think its absolutely girl stuff. "Sahir wants some henna" Poke-poke, chuckle-chuckle.

ladytetsu
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Re: Moral delemma

Put up a sign - "Ladies night!"  Or "Sisters' Saturday" or something along those lines, and advertise your pricing right under that - most guys will just wander away.  Tell your farmer's market before you start. . . they may have ideas to help, like putting you next to soap and lotion makers if there's anything like that, where guys normally don't hang out for too long.  I don't get many men at festivals or events like that, so a simple, not blatant, sign will usually handle the few who do wander by.  If it's a private appointment, just tell them you're booked, even if you're not.  If you know somebody else who doesn't need to avoid mahram, you can refer the guys to them privately.

Heather
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Re: Moral delemma

I have a friend who, when her husband is helping her out at a public gig, will just explain when it comes up that she only does henna on women... but her husband would be happy to do a smilie face or dot for them, if they would like! You could bring along a male friend who could do the same for you... but really, it hardly ever comes up, especially if you have a book full of flowery stuff. I haven't actually counted, but I'd venture to say that about 99% of the people who I do henna for are women.

xyz
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Re: Moral delemma

Interesting question!  I think there's no moral dilemma if you're straight forward and put the onus on yourself...when you see a man waiting for you, smile and very politely explain that for your own cultural/religious reasons you feel comfortable working on women only.  Most people would understand it and not feel discriminated against.  They'll probably say, "Oh, OK, thanks" and leave it at that. Even if they needed more explanation, you could express it just the way you shared it with us--that you're not supposed to have physical contact with males not related to you by blood or marriage.  I can't imagine anyone (other than someone deliberately looking for trouble, and those are a different class onto themselves) demanding that you take them in after such clear rationale.  (And BTW, I wouldn't expect finding much antagonism and hostility in the places you're likely to practice your art...)

However, it'd be best not to have to stop your work and devote time to explain yourself...so like others suggested, it'd be great to have signs that describe your designs as "exquisite" "feminine" "delicate" and "fanciful" to deter men from even coming in, thus giving hardly any chance for the above justification to be necessary.  Maybe even something that says "Henna is an art that has been passed from women to women for generations..." or something of the sort.  I mean, what manly man wouldn't get a hint after reading that?  Finally, whenever possible, suggest the name of another artist who applies henna on men.  "I don't henna men but I know _______ does, tell them that I refered you"  is not rude, and it allows the customer to save face because it sounds like your putting their interests (getting the henna they wanted) above what they might perceive is yours (making a living through your art).

Nicole
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Re: Moral dilemma

Thanks so much ladies!  I guess I just remember my first exposure to henna.  It was at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and there were men walking around with it everywhere.  So I guess I'll just have to stay away from the "hippie folk" (:P not unlike myself) unless I have a partner.

So I guess being upfront is probably the best way to go, do you think it would give a terrible vibe if I put a sign saying "women and children only"?  I don't think men will be too put out, since most of my designs are floraly anyway, but I'd be more worried if a couple wanted matching designs or something cheesey (and cute) like that.  Private appointments are easy enough, I'll just make sure to tell people before booking them.

Any henna artists in Winnipeg who would like me to refer them in case I get any males?  :D

PS I'm mortified that I spelled dilemma wrong... in the title no less!

Jen
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Re: Moral dilemma

Kim's in Winnipeg! She's one of the best! http://www.winnipeghenna.com/

Lehana
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Re: Moral delemma
Never underestimate a smile. When I was I'll and people wanted to shake hands or even hug I would just say, sorry I don't shake hands. With a warm friendly smile. I rarely had to explain and if I did I would say it wasn't them I don't shake anyones hand. I never had to go on about how I had a crap immune system at the time because I felt that was my business. I find people can sense your true feelings if your happy friendly cheerful or warm they accept things they wouldn't necessarily if the mood was frosty.
Blurberrybuzz
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Re: Moral delemma

Sister's I've met have used a "ladies only" sign and have out very feminine patterns.  I was also offering henna at the same event and they sent any guys over to me :)  Having a backup artist you can refer males to is just fine.  I've also gotten appointments from guys who have all ready called around and have been told "ladies only".  I think it's fine to set up whatever boundaries you are comfortable with.  It's your business. 

Victoria

Hennacat
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Re: Moral delemma

Are you excluding all males, or would you henna male children?

Nicole
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Re: Moral delemma

Boys under 12 or so would be okay.

Viljaana
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Re: Moral delemma

This is an old thread, but I feel the need to contribute anyway, as I believe there are others with similar dilemmas.

Í'm not a muslim nor a professional artist, but I have muslim friends who avoid contact with the opposite sex. As personal opinion I respect that, but professionally excluding some customers based on their gender (or religion, ethnic background or sexual orientation etc.) can be more tricky depending on the local laws againt discrimination.

Do not get me wrong: I'm on your side with this one. I'm only affraid that if you put a sign that says "no men" in any form in a public fair, or other ways strickly exclude men as customers, you might make yourself as a target for a lawsuit - I'd hate to see that to happen to a fellow henna artist. So If you are located in EU, US, Canada or another country, where the laws againt discrimination are very strick, be very carefull what you say. Maybe check from a lawer first what you can and can't do as professional service provider.

Like said by many others in this thread, you could make your patterns very feminine and stick with those patterns only - men will be unlikely to want those, You can always say that you can't draw other patterns well enought to execute them on custumers, but mayby refer to a nother artist that would (and ofcourse would do men). Having a partner in your booth that can henna men would also be a great sollution. If you can't find another artist, mayby a friend of yours could make simple designs by using a transfer paper (If she/he is really not that good at hennaing, you could say that _you_ don't henna men, but offer them a free (or almost free) pattern from your trainee as apology - that said in a polite tone, would probaply make them quite satisfied and distrackt them from the fakt that you're actually discriminating men).

This said, I would recommend you to consider wether or not doing public fairs is really your thing. If you can't find a way you could practice your art without discriminating anyone, you maybe could only work with brides or religious or women only festivals (Maybe your mosque has some events you could do henna in. I'm sure there everyone would understand that you don't do men). Or maybe there is a way to work with men that wouldn't be a problem: how about wearing gloves or putting a tissue paper between your hand and the customer so you don't actually touch him? Or having a chaperone to make sure the relationship between you and your custumer stays in a decent level (I'm not suggesting that you would let things go to an intimate level anyway, but mayby a chapperone would give you some moral support). Or maybe ask your imam for advice?

It's easy to say that you don't do pictures of animals or religious symbols - there is no law that can force you do those, but avoiding (the few) male custumers can be tough. You must be sure you have an answer to every situation. What to do, if a man gets really really angry when you say you can't henna him? Will you take the risk to defence your choice in court or will you yield and do something quick  eventhough you're not entirely comftable with that. If the angry man seems intoxicated you could say you won't henna  _anyone_ that is under an inlfuence of drugs or alcohol (Henna can last upto a month and you don't want them to regret it later - plus they probaply mess the pattern anyway) - and call the security if the situation seems threatening.

Jen
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Re: Moral delemma

This can be seen from a completely different angle. Turn it around and look at it from the other side. An anti-descrimination law that would force a woman to go against her faith and touch a man she's not related to in order to offer him a non-essential service would be discrimination against HER and her faith, wouldn't it? Its an interesting quandry, to be sure. I do like your suggestions that gently discourage men. That would cause the issue to come up less often at least!

Pesonally, I have no such restrictions in my faith, but I do in my family! I don't have a shop, so I occasionally take private appointments at home. The house rule is that I don't schedule men unless my husband is home. No one has ever given me grief about it.

Shelly4color
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Re: Moral delemma

 

Your "moral dilemma" is a potential legal dilemma. If your clever or cute approach to discriminating against potential male cllentelle backfires, you could end up very sorry and losing a lot of money. There are people who make a living finding ways to sue people. ... Or if you end up with a disgruntled female customer, she could go after you for discriminating against male customers, just for retribution and any money that comes with it. This might sound paranoid, but the more customers you see, the more likely things like this could happen. 

I wouldn't dare proceed with this without first consulting a lawyer. Better safe than sorry. 

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