Everyday millions of women around the world wear headscarves or veils, but they aren’t just regular pieces of clothing to them.
To some their purpose is to represent their spirituality and religious customs specified in the Koran, while also maintaining their dignity.
To others they are conflicting with the ideals of a modern feminist society, because they are seen as a mark of oppression.
For me it was important to explore this topic because I will never experience it and I think it is more important than ever to understand and respect the customs of other religions and cultures. It is important to make the effort to do this.
Last October Playboy featured american journalist and hijab-wearing model Noor Tagouri. Her aim was to “challenge preconceived ideas of how people should be and how they should live their lives”. She raises a good question – Why would a simple piece of clothing be viewed as the epitome of oppression and why are so many women’s sense of self worth reduced to their sexual allure? Should we really assume all woman wearing some form of head scarf or veil was forced into it?
Of course we need to acknowledge that in different parts of the world, woman are not afforded the right to choose on their own but to assume a veiled woman is an oppressed one is belittling the choices of those who want to wear it.
I suppose in a way the liberation does not lie in the decision to cover up or the decision to not, but the liberation lies in being able to make the decision at all. I guess a lot of people see it as much more than a piece of material given the uproar it causes but maybe there is more to this than we initially thought. To many woman maybe the hijab is rejecting the message that woman must be sexy but not too sexy and rejecting the market that tells woman to attain the unattainable?
To me the hijab poses no kind of threat to a constantly evolving and progressing modern world but what it does do is challenge the consumer culture we are all obsessed with.
Capitalism treats woman as both products and consumers, woman wearing hijabs don’t fit into the categories of – clothes horse, shopaholics or pieces of meat. Take a woman’s magazine off the shelf in any supermarket and you will see a step by step guide on how to breathe, fart and scratch your backside in a way that will drive your partner wild. So why would we think a scarf controls a woman’s sexuality? It is beyond me.
I think the truth is that woman who choose to wear their hijab have chosen to claim ownership over their bodies, and even now that makes people uncomfortable.