I’m sorry but I have very little patience with this, oh woe is me attitude, when there are two women in Morocco who are being prosecuted for indecency for wearing summer dresses in a souq. As far as I am aware, no one is arresting Hanna for wearing her hijab nor is she being forced to remove it.
By implying that women who don’t wear the hijab are slaves to glossy magazines and consumer pressures, Hanna makes the same patronising generalisations that she claims others people make about hijabi women.
Even people who are in thrall to glossy magazines and consumer pressures can easily decide not to be. It’s not so easy for people who believe they are required to obey the rules of their religion to decide to disobey those rules. It’s no great wrench to decide that glossy magazines are just glossy magazines, but it’s a pretty big wrench to realize that some of the rules of your religion are bad rules. I suspect that’s why Hanna Yusuf imputes these crass motivations to people who aren’t like her.
“The control hijabi women have over their bodies,” Hannah continues, “Challenges existing structures”.
Where do I begin with this? Firstly, this idea that hijabi women have control over their bodies is not only simplistic but also ludicrous. Women are told to cover so that they do not provoke men’s desires – where is the control in that?
As for this idea that wearing hijab means you’re no longer objectified and no longer focusing on your appearance is nonsense. We’re humans at the end of the day and always concerned with our appearance. Women in headscarves are no exceptions to this.
It is true that the hijab makes women look duller and dowdier than they would without it. That’s the point of it, after all. But does that mean that their appearance just becomes a non-issue? Like Iram, I doubt it.
If it were just about covering the hair then there would be little issue. But the concept of the hijab is much more than just about covering the hair and Hanna knows it. As some Muslims wrote under my initial piece, it is an entire way of dressing, behaving and believing. Hence why she needed to research for three years before she decided to wear it, because once you put it on there is no going back. Women are free to wear one, just not free to remove it. And as soon as you wear the headscarf you are judged more harshly for your actions because of your perceived piety. If women without hijabs are “exploited” and “objectified”, then so too are those with hijabs, being upheld as models of good Muslim women.
I am glad that Hanna can make a free choice, and is able to have her free choice accepted by a tolerant society – despite insisting that is she faced by a wave of hostility. It is a pity that some of the societies where the headscarf is either compulsory or desired are not so tolerant.
The intolerance of those societies is much of the reason for hostility to the hijab, ironically enough.