The War on Muslim Hijabs

hijab

After watching this Arab Makeup and Veil Style video, I ran to my mirror to play with scarfs and jewelry.

I was seeing the hijab through new foreign eyes.

I’ve had to wear the hijab in some countries during my travels, but never any as creative and decoratively gorgeous as the ones in this video.

The hijabs I’ve worn were mostly muted colors without adornment. Though I always sought out the most beautifully-patterned ones, I was usually advised not to wear bright colors or any decoration on them. So, after learning how to keep them from falling off all the time, I pretty much forgot I was wearing them by the end of my first week in the country.

Now, posing and preening in front of the mirror – a thick chain necklace draped over my scarf in a not-quite-successful attempt to imitate the veil fashions in the video – I wondered about Western reaction to the veil.

Apparently, we hate them.

western-woman-reacts-to-veiled-muslim-woman

U.SFranceU.SItalySpainU.SFranceBelgiumU.S….FranceSwitzerlandU.S.

We think they cause oppression, repression, digression…and all kinds of other –essions. We give a lot of power to those little scarves.

But why?

Do we pass the same judgements against a nun’s habit?

nun's-habit

An Orthodox Jewish woman’s head covering? An Indian Sikh woman’s turban?

An Amish woman’s chaste cloaking?

religious-dress-muslim-catholic-nun-orthodox-jew

We haven’t heard outcries against these coverings.

Why not?

All are worn in the name of religion.

What is it about a Muslim woman’s head covering that sends us Westerners into such a tizzy?

The fact is that most Westerners who decry the hijab – or any Muslim covering – have never spoken to a Muslim woman, have never been to the Middle East, have no knowledge of Islam beyond selective post-9/11 media soundbites or extended coverage of terrorist events, and interviews with radical fringe Muslims who don’t represent the majority.

Add to that, sensationalized photos of honor killings presented as if they are the norm for all Muslim women across the entire Middle East, and maybe it’s no wonder Westerners cling to their list of –essions!

But let’s trades eyes for a sec…

How do you suppose Muslim women see us?

What if they’ve formed their judgements about us Western women based on their own selective media coverage?

What if Muslim women see us as one big fish-lipped, chipmunk-cheeked, floatation-breasted monolithic woman – representational of all Western women – who allow our faces and bodies to be repeatedly injected and sliced in a desperate flight from aging?

What if Muslim women peer at us from beneath their hijabs, and see a culture of women so obsessed with youth and being desired by men, that we allow our young girls to be photographed and filmed in all manner of sexualized images for the pleasure and profit of men?

britney-no-underwear

What if Muslim women think The Real Housewives, and Britney Spears represent us all as a whole?

Are you shuddering with me?

In my travels throughout Asia, I’ve met hundreds of Muslim women who love wearing the hijab. I’ve met just as many who don’t. But just because our mainstream media selectively focuses on the ones who don’t, doesn’t mean those women are representational of all.

The only thing we can be sure it represents is Western media ideology.

Think about it.

Do media-dominating, puffed up, stretched out, plastic surgery-sculpted Hollywood stars and trophy wives mean we all are?

Of course, not.

Everyone has a different life experience from everyone else.

But they are all valid.

And if we’re smart, we’ll take them all into account – not just the ones that make headlines, or fit nicely into our own personal or patriotic ideology.

I’ve made many female friends throughout Asia – some who feel oppressed beneath their hijabs, and some who love their hijabs. Each interaction helps me develop a well-rounded view of Muslim women apart from the oppression-focused image created by our media, Islamophobics, and post-9/11 fear-mongers.

And, introducing Muslim friends to Christian, and Jewish friends rewards me with exchanges that are brilliant, beautiful, all about mutual respect and tolerance – no matter what we may disagree on.

And, let me tell you, we have some deeply diverging views!

burka-bikini

In truth, we respectfully agree to disagree more often than not. Yet somehow, instead of becoming angry, we’re completely fascinated by our vastly different ways of seeing things. Contention is replaced by genuine interest, and respect is the rule.

We have this saying, “Respectful ignorance will be rewarded with knowledge. Judgemental ignorance gets the boot!”

The enormous divides between the diversity of friends I’ve brought together could be cultural Armageddon.

But it’s working.

Because it’s based on minds that are open, expectations placed in abeyance, and judgements that are deferred. Most importantly, it’s based on face-to-face interaction.

Suspending belief in ideology-based media sets us free to see each other through new foreign eyes.

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What are your views about the Muslim hijab?

What do you think about Western reaction to it?

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Foreign Eyes Friday

sylverblaque-foreign-eyes-friday

50 thoughts on “The War on Muslim Hijabs

  1. One word : wow.
    Just wow, Sylver! This blog post had me by it’s name! Absolutely, absolutely loved it!
    I’m a Muslim, an Asian, from Pakistan 🙂
    I can totally relate to the ‘hijab’ debate which was going on in the comments and was rather surprised to see, how many of you actually understand and respect the religion Islam 🙂
    Loved your post how the West (not particularly even the West, it can be anybody) judges the Muslim women who cover themselves up and then being completely oblivious to the fact that what about the ‘judgemental’ thinking of those very women who are being judged by them, thinking about them?
    So conclusion being : live and let live 🙂
    Islam is a religion of peace and love! The first and foremost thing it teaches it’s believers. And it very much states respecting ‘every’ other religion as well and have patience and self-control.
    Yes, one can only debate if the woman is being ‘forced’ to wear a Hijab against her free-will, because we all must remind ourselves : Islam has hijab, hijab does not have Islam. You can never force one if they do not wish to do what you command. You can explain with love, patience, satisfaction and then leave it on the person him/her-self. What they choose, what they want. In the end, we all will go the way our fate has decided for us. It’s always the best – never force.
    But respect. Always respect! 🙂

    • Oh, how I love your last line: “Respect. Always respect.” I believe this, too. And I’m so glad you dropped in from Pakistan to share your views about this issue. 🙂

      You make many good points here – like Islam being a religion of peace and love. Many Westerners do not know this because of the way we judge the entire religion by the actions of a few. I’m very happy you make it clear that, in truth, Islam is a religion of peace and love, just as all religions essentially are.
      I also agree with you that we cannot force others to be the way we want them to be. Each person must be who they are, and we must respect that, whether it fits our belief system or not. I shudder to think of a world in which everyone is the same – scary! I love the difference between us all, the world over!

      Thank you again for sharing how you feel about Islam & the hijab. 🙂

      • Couldn’t agree with you more! Well said.
        & no problem, just shared what I thought needs to be shared 🙂
        Keep blogging, you’re amazing! Have followed you to stay updated about the posts in near future!

  2. Nice article-thought provoking-I see a difference in a modest hajob and a cover-all burkah. I dont uderstand women who wear a veil-hair cover and max out on makeup-whats the point. I think it is up to each woman what she feels is right-my problem is that few me feel the need to cover up for religious reasons, Jewish men at least wear the modest head covering.

    • Hi, Beebee. I’m glad you enjoyed reading this post. 🙂 I agree with what you say about it being up to each woman to wear what she feels is right for her. Thank you for bringing out that very important point. I think it’s one we’d do well to remember before passing judgement based in our own belief system. 🙂

  3. Hi Sylver. I am against pressure on women (and any other person) to do this or that. And I think wailing up is one of these pressures, in some countries and societies they are wailing up now were they did not before. Why hide? Show how you are. And if some men think that means “come and take me”, it is something wrong with these men, they completly misunderstood. I know there is a bad sexualisation in the western world. Someone are making money from it, many young and not so young men are getting very wrong impressions. And that’s bad, real bad. But that shouldn’t mean that we women have to hide ourself.
    I see the point about nuns, but there is a difference concerning hijab and niqab. There are very few nuns, and they live in a world of their own, but some wants EVERY woman to cover up, probably because they feel they belong to them.

    • Hi, thanks for your thoughtful comment. You make some good points, here. Especially your points about the difference between the hijab & niqab – which most Westerners are uninformed about – and your point about women having the choice to “hide ourselves.” I think an important thing for all of us to remember is the element of choice, and allowing – without persecution – a woman to make choices for herself. If she chooses to cover, that should be respected especially by those with scant knowledge about her reasons or her culture. Asking rather than judging goes a long way toward understanding.

      However, I agree with you about the issue of a woman’s choice being taken away from her by men who “feel they belong to them.” This is happening in very many cultures, including Western – especially now in our current political arena where men are deciding on our reproductive rights, and our voices are not being heard. Thank you very much for your enlightening comment, and I hope to hear from you again. 🙂

  4. This was great! Brave and insightful! Really needed to be said. Was think the same myself.

    Generalisations and blanket statements do not serve the species well. There’s 7 billion of us. We’re all exactly the same but completely different. That’s a lot of variation on one theme, a lot of different shades of grey, hey? We’d do well to greet everyone we encounter with an open mind free from prejudices and stereotypes.

    Thanks a bunch for checking out my blog! Really. 💋

  5. ALL women in the world are the same. It is only the culture, tribal and family tradition, politics and religion (all usually male enforced) that oppress women. Many know no different and accept their life style. I expect that if you secretly asked 100 Saudi women about the Hijab you would probably get 101 different answers. Take care Sylver. Ralph

    • Thanx for this comment, Prof. It brings to light an important issue. You’re right, the majority of us are suspicious & contemptuous of Arabs or anything Islamic. But why are we not as phobic about our own groups of religious terrorists who live among us & attack us much more frequently? We have taken the so-called “Holy War” of fringe groups of Muslims & painted the entire religion of Islam with this association. Yet, inexplicably, we don’t do this with our own groups of religious terrorists.

      For example, we don’t paint the entire religion of Christianity with the actions of fringe groups of Christians who wage wars on us – such as the Ku Klux Klan (who boast a religious foundation in Christianity), or the Army of God (who executed attacks on abortion clinics & doctors across the U.S.), or any of the other half-dozen Christian terrorist groups & individuals by whom we have been attacked. Strangely, we fail to label their terrorism as a “Holy War,” using this term only when it relates to Islam & fringe Arab terrorist groups.

      Go figure. 😐

  6. Hello, Gitty. It’s nice to “meet” you. 🙂

    I believe you’ll find, through my earlier conversation with Sylver, that you and I are in agreement. I have nothing against the hijab itself (or any other form of clothing style, regardless of culture, for that matter) provided the woman in question isn’t being forced to wear it against her own free will. As others have pointed out, some women choose to wear the traditional garments of their culture and/or faith while others do not wish to do so. When a woman who has expressed her personal choice not to wear the traditional garments of her culture is forced to do so anyway, I feel that is taking away her free will.

    I gather from your comment that you are proud of your rich cultural heritage and of your faith. That is something to be celebrated. You, therefore, freely choose to wear your hijab. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, in my opinion, and you certainly should not be judged by others for your choice. In fact, I applaud you for speaking up that you personally choose to follow Farz by your own free will and not because you feel forced or pressured to do so. That, in itself, is the very essence of empowerment and the opposite of oppression.

    It all comes down to free will and personal choice — something I personally believe all human beings are entitled to. We, as human beings, are also responsible for the personal choices we make and, if those choices harm another, must be willing to be held accountable for our actions. Peaceful coexistence is possible if we all strive to adhere to the standard of refraining from doing to others that which we wouldn’t want done to ourselves.

    Peace,

    Cari

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  8. WHEN I do wear hijab.. why do people critisize?
    and when i TRY to tell them something good the just shoot me down. or worse pinpoint on my flaws.. what am i suppose to do sylver? i want to help them and at the same time not get hurt. :/
    P.S i’m an Asian from pakistan 🙂

    • Hi Uriba. I see you’re a friend of Cari’s, who commented here also. Thank you for expressing your feelings about this. I wish I had the perfect answer for you, but I don’t. There is such fear of Muslims here compounded by our politicians and our media, which leads to blind judgement & misunderstanding. I hope & pray that one day light will dawn, and tolerance (hopefully followed by acceptance!) will reign supreme over all forms of ignorance & hate. We can only hope…

      • yes your right. hope’s all we’ve got.. but isn’t there something, i dunno any thing we could do to help save our religion. i’m willing to do any thing.. but what should i do?? :/ as an induvidual

        • I wish I had definitive answers for you, Uriba. I, too, seek answers that will unite masses of people of differing views. If only! My suggestion would be to stay true to yourself, to your beliefs. Oftentimes, we bend over backwards to fit the ideal of others when what we should do is cleve to that which we know to be right. Always follow your conscience, which I believe instinctively knows right from wrong, and never compromises upstanding values to adhere to a social norm. I don’t believe you can “save” your religion alone. But I do believe you can be an example to all for right action. 🙂

    • Greetings, Uriba. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. 🙂 If we’ve “met” before, I do apologize for not remembering. I’ve been away from my blog and writing for quite some time.

      I see that Sylver has answered your concerns more eloquently than I could have hoped to do. Sylver, you are such a talented and beautiful soul.

      My heart goes out to you and those like you, Uriba, who simply want peaceful coexistence and understanding. We may walk different spiritual paths, however, I believe in today’s society of fear and hate being the rule rather than the exception, we happen to face very similar challenges. You see, I identify as Pagan Eclectic. This means one of my primary spiritual symbols is the pentacle. I have been called numerous names and been accused of horrid things that couldn’t be further from the reality of who I am based solely on that simple silver pendant. That five-pointed star, with the single point facing upward, surrounded by a circle symbolizes harmony/unity with the elements (earth, air, fire, water, and spirit) and The Divine. Regardless of how often I try to educate people that this is not “devil worship” — or worse — there are those that simply can’t or won’t see beyond what’s been ingrained into them by society

      • Sorry… Using my mobile phone and a text message came through which somehow posted my comment to you before it was completed, Uriba. *sigh*

        What I was leading up to previously is this. None of us can singlehandedly change the views of others regarding our chosen spiritual paths. People see what they want to see. Those of us who wish for peaceful coexistence amongst the many varied and beautiful cultures and faiths can only lead by the example of our actions. I’m fortunate to have seen this work a few times and I feel blessed for those opportunities. I won’t name their faith, but suffice to say I was both shocked and overjoyed when I heard them defend me against such horrible accusations and called me one of the most spiritual people they knew. So I know that Sylver is right. We can only hope to one day bring about peaceful change by being a positive example of our chosen spiritual paths. I want the prejudice and hate to end. I have faith that we can all make a difference through discussions like these.

        I wish you all the best, Uriba. Let’s all be the change we want to see. Coexist is more than a word. It’s a way of life. 🙂

        Blessed Be,

        Cari

  9. I applaud you for writing such a wonderfully mind and heart opening post. Opening our hearts to other cultures, taking the judgment that may initially come up and turning it upside down to acknowledgment, understanding and appreciation for the multiple differences is so important if we are to create peace on this beautiful Earth of ours. Thank you Sylver and thank you to all the people who commented. It is about communication.

    • Exactly, Patricia! It’s all about communication. Thank you for your beautiful comment, and for your willingness to see such a controversial issue with new foreign eyes! 🙂

  10. Hullo. I’m a muslim girl (teenager to be in fact…well not really in fact since I haven’t given an exact age but that doesn’t quite matter…) and I live in Canada (which is in the West.). If you’re wondering (which you’re probably not) on my view on the Western view of feminism I’ll first of say that I don’t care in most cases. To each their own. But when I see some girl wearing tiny booty shirts with a low cut tank top and she’s complaining about guys “disrespecting” her by checking her out and whatnot, I always have the urge to go and call her an idiot. For the love of God, if you don’t want that happening, change your clothes! I

    • Shafaz, I’m glad you stopped by to visit. I completely understand what you’re saying. And this, too, is a cultural thing I believe. Here in the West, it’s perfectly acceptable – even desirable – to show more skin. And unfortunately, we tend to judge Western women by this just as we judge Muslim women who cover. I really long for the day that we’re able to just accept people for who they are without judging them by our own limited criteria, you know? Without banning them from public places because their hair is covered, or painting them with our (usually erroneous) assumptions of why they are the way they are instead of being like us.

      I’m glad you made the point that you did in your comment. I love hearing all sides of an issue, all the different viewpoints. I learn a lot from it. Thank you!

      • What a thoughtful and beautifully written post! Would only say that you show a bit too much leniency in your reply to this poster, even if she is only a teenager…if the point is respect, then women who wish to let it shine should be respected as well, and no woman should be made to feel objectified by men regardless of what she chooses to wear. “Idiot”? I don’t see why a piece encouraging thoughtful debate – like the one you’ve written – should okay name-calling. “Western” women have a lot of stuff to deal with – hence the neuroses of which you speak above, not to mention a plethora of other problems, like eating disorders, for example. My personal take on the hijab is not unlike yours, and i think cari’s as well – it should always be a woman’s choice. and i think this is where the backlash originates, at least for ostensibly open-minded women. having said that, when i heard that sarkozy (ex-french prez) decided the burqa should be illegal in france, it felt like a blow to my stomach. the hijab is a loaded garment because underneath it lies not only women, but also people’s perception of women being the objects of men, in some capacity, as well as people’s perception of women being made to do things or being prohibited from doing things – by women and by men – against their will. and while i’m saddened by the fact that women who happily embrace the freedoms the hijab and burqa provide them continue to be persecuted, i also think that the emotions triggered by a seemingly harmless piece of fabric might mean we’re not, as a global community, yet satisfied with the way we treat women. and maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

        • Thank you for visiting, Ann, and for the kind words. 🙂 You & I had the same reaction to Sarkozy’s mandate, which pales in comparison to what Muslim women living in France felt (& still do). I like your expression of the hijab being “a loaded garment” tied to people’s perceptions, albeit perceptions generally based on a magnified Western viewpoint. And I agree wholeheartedly with your closing sentiment, which, if we’re going to apply this, I believe we should focus on all women globally as intensely as we focus on Muslim women.

          You made some very interesting points here. Thank you, Ann, for this deeply thoughtful comment.

  11. I think saying this : “What if Muslim women see us as one big, fish-lipped, floatation-breasted, monolithic woman – representational of all Western women – who allow our faces and bodies to be repeatedly injected, sliced, and re-stitched in a desperate flight from aging?

    What if Muslim women peer at us from beneath their hijabs, and see a culture of women so obsessed with youth and being desired by men, that we allow our young girls to be photographed and filmed in all manner of sexualized images for the pleasure and profit of men?”

    .. is the wrong way to go. Western women do this because society pushes us to do this, because: If you are not beautiful you don’t have a chance in this society obsessed by youth and beauty, and a society who constantly sexualizes women. It’s not the womens faults. It is society who pushes us to do this. Don’t blame the women for doing this. And the pic of Britney? What are you trying to say? That she is a “slut who shows her pussy right, left and centre” ..? I miss some feminist opinions in this post. And do you think that muslim society stands above these obession with beauty? I don’t think this is the case. Plastic surgery and objecification of women exists very much in their societies as well.

    Thank you for sharing

    • Hi, thanks for visiting & for this in-depth comment. It’s good to hear a feminist viewpoint. I agree that we live in a very judgmental society – especially as it relates to women. You’ll get no argument from me about the objectification of women in nearly every society around the globe. But I believe we make our own choices. Whatever the reason, we (each individual) make the decision to physically alter our faces & bodies, or to expose our private parts publicly. WE decide to do those things – each individual makes a choice. Yes, our decision may be based on societal pressure, but it’s up to us whether to succumb to that pressure or not. I don’t believe there is any “blame” to be assigned here; I don’t see this as an issue of finger-pointing, but instead an issue of diversity and acceptance (or lack thereof). I don’t believe any society stands above any other society; I don’t see this issue as a contest. The quote above & Britney’s photo is meant to illustrate an extreme of judgement, which we are engaging in each time we taunt, ban, hurt, pass laws against, or otherwise oust those within society who do not fit our norm.

      I appreciate your taking the time to engage here. Dialog is what’s it’s all about. 🙂

  12. gitty
    on February 12, 2012 at 6:40 am said:
    why not wearing by her own choice? i m not agree with coz i am also wearing Hejab its my own choice becouse in Holy Quran its Farz and it shows Beeest personality of a woman or a girl.
    (See her reply to the Sept. 22 commenter)
    _________________________________________________________________________

    *For those who are not familiar with the word “Farz,” it means ‘obligatory’ as in a moral or religious duty.

    Hi Gitty, thank you for sharing your comment here! It’s great to hear a first-person viewpoint on this issue. I have many friends in different countries who also believe wearing their hijab is Farz, as stated in the Holy Qur’an. They believe like you that a woman should demonstrate her modesty, and respect for her own body in this way. Of course, there is a great debate about the hijab both here in the West & in Asia. I have other friends in Asia who don’t cover, and have a different interpretation of the Holy Qur’an as it relates to covering. I guess all religions have followers with different interpretations of religious laws. I’m very happy you shared your view here. I hope you will come back and share more of your views! 🙂

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  14. I’m a student of Arabic, but more importantly, of the world. I have been privileged to meet many people from many different backgrounds, and it has come to my attention over and over again that strong, one-dimensional opinions of any kind tend to be misdirected.

    I was raised on what tend to be considered more liberal views… gay rights, feminism, openness and equality, etc… and tend to lean towards thinking that those views are “right” and best for everyone. They certainly seem to be best for me, and while I’m not about to let go of my values, I do have to remember that people with views on the opposite side of the political spectrum have equally strong convictions. I don’t agree with hate of any sort, no, but can I see the benefit of family cohesiveness and a certain degree of obedience, perhaps better read as humility? Of course. Do I see power hunger and soap-box preaching on the “liberal” side of the fence? You bet I do.

    So what I come away having to remind myself of is that we’re all ultimately human, with both shortcomings and amazing assets (trust me, I have to remember to take this balanced view towards myself very often, too). There is not one of us, however disagreeable our life choices or politics may be, who is not human. Well, there are sociopaths, but I’ll leave that out for right now.

    So yes, that was a beautiful hijab. And it makes me almost shudder with rage to think about all the preteen girls who are ushered into adulthood under extreme pressure to please men (that phrase doesn’t quite capture it, but think about the implications of the rise in *preteen* pregnancy as the most extreme example). What do I think we should all do? Work to be complete human beings, whatever that looks like for each one of us. But, for the most part, we don’t, and each of us have our own reasons.

    Not to mention, who am I to say?

    Sarah

    • What a wonderful comment! You say so much that I agree with, especially, “What do I think we should all do? Work to be complete human beings, whatever that looks like for each one of us.” This is so very true! Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your feelings about this issue.

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  21. The hijab pictured at the top is absolutely beautiful as is the woman wearing it. I’ve always felt all women are naturally beautiful, each in their own unique way, regardless of ethnicity, age, weight, breast size, eye color, hair color, etc. I can honestly say I have no Western-media instilled objection to the hijab that does not force a woman to hide the unique beauty of her face. I do confess to having a negative reaction to the requirement made by some of hiding a woman’s face completely. That, for whatever reason, does seem like oppression in my opinion & it’s something I’ve never quite been able to shake. Any objections I may have to the type of hijab pictured at the top would likely stem from the knowledge that she was forced to wear it against her wishes. If she liked wearing it & chose freely to do so, then that’s wonderful. If not, I’ll be honest & say that maybe my Western way of thinking would kick in & I’d be upset for her simply because, at that point it would seem to become a symbol of someone’s dominion over her–almost like an elegant leash.

    You are very correct, Sylver, in your comparison to see Western women through Eastern eyes based solely on the media & the thought does make me shudder. My thoughts on the hijab are actually quite similar to those I’ve always believed regarding breast implants, cosmetic surgery (done solely for vanity–not reconstructive), Botulinum toxin injections, etc. If a Western woman truly wants those things, is doing it strictly for herself & her own happiness, then that’s her choice. Who am I to try to tell them that God & Goddess made them perfect just as they are? On the other hand, I feel it’s complete oppression brought on by some Western males’ common views of what the ideal female form should look like when a woman feels forced to have any of these procedures to keep/please her husband or boyfriend (or even to attract a mate) or, worse yet, to keep/get a job. I have known a woman whose husband, for all intent & purposes, forced his wife to get breast implants because he ‘loved her but was physically attracted to large breasts’. I was, & still am, beyond outraged. Not only do I see something like that as oppression & the symbolic male-dominance elegant leash, I see that as abuse. Both emotional & physical. And whether we Westerners want to open our eyes & believe/admit it or not, it’s just as bad as when an Eastern woman is forced to wear, say, or do certain things against her true wishes.

    It all boils down to choice. I’m appalled if I hear of a Western woman forced into cosmetic surgery & I’m appalled if Eastern women are forced to wear certain garments against their will. As for ‘honor killings’, I’ve always prayed that was media sensationalism & not the norm. I shudder at the thought, though I also shudder when I hear of Western parents kicking their daughters into the dangers of being homeless on the streets for getting pregnant. It’s all relative when you begin viewing these things through different lenses & with an open mind.

    Thank you, Sylver, for yet another brilliantly thought-provoking post.

    • Cari, this is a wonderfully thought-provoking comment you’ve written, and I will respond to various points individually.
      1. How I love your view of ALL women as beautiful – so wise & true!
      2. I would suggest that in your statement, “Any objections I may have to the type of hijab pictured at the top would likely stem from the knowledge that she was forced to wear it against her wishes.” the word ‘assumption’ be substituted for the word “knowledge.” Because, really, you don’t “know” that she is oppressed; you only assume so.
      3. I am very impressed by your realization that situational oppression does not apply only to Muslim women covering their faces, but also to our Western proclivity to “pimp” young women for the pleasure and profit of men, as well as Western women’s attempts to hide aging by way of plastic surgery in order to remain desirable to men, or hold onto jobs, etc. As I see it, Western women are “forced” into such self-destructive/self-mutilating practices by a male-dominated society which, above all other attributes, rewards youth, thinness, and beauty in women. Therefore, Western women feel forced to adhere to these oppressive norms, or lose jobs, husbands, etc. This is just as oppressive – if not more so – than the Western idea of the oppressive hijab.
      4. You say: “It’s all relative when you begin viewing these things through different lenses & with an open mind.” This is the main point I was attempting to get across in this article. You summed it up perfectly with this final statement. Thank you! And thank you for being willing to look at such an issue with new foreign eyes ; ->

      • Your original post itself, with which I agree & applaud, teaches those of us with ‘Western eyes’ not to assume the hijab is symbolic of oppression unless the woman wearing it has expressed in some way that she is not wearing it by her own choice. Since I agree with that viewpoint, my intended meaning when I used the word ‘knowledge’ in that statement was that if I personally knew, for a fact, that she was being forced to wear it against her will. For instance, if she had told me herself that she didn’t want to wear it or I’d happened to witness her attempting to remove it & then being chastised for it by someone with her. there is the potential for societal oppression in every culture, I’d wager. I certainly hope that more ‘Western eyes’ will at least make an honest attempt to view such things with a more open mind & allow themselves to take a step back to acknowledge some of the oppressive atrocities committed by an all too often male-dominated Western culture.

        • Cari, I enjoy reading your comments as much as you enjoy reading my posts. You have an open, intelligent mind and you are not afraid to express all aspects of your opinion. I’m glad to have such an engaged visitor!

        • why not wearing by her own choice? i m not agree with coz i am also wearing Hejab its my own choice becouse in Holy Quran its Farz and it shows Beeest personality of a woman or a girl

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