I was reminded of the dirty fly-blown women metaphor by Iram Ramzan’s post about Hanna Yusuf’s creepy “my hijab is a feminist statement!” video.
Hanna goes on to say that the hijab “resists commercial imperatives that support consumer culture”. It is true that in the world we live in, capitalism has made consumers of us all – including Muslim women.
In fact, Muslims comprise one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world! The ‘halal’ industry is huge. Everywhere you go there will be an Islamic store selling you all sorts of ‘Islamic’ goods including hijabs and hijab accessories for women. Far from sticking two fingers up to Western consumerism, Muslim women are embracing it, matching their hijab with the latest trendy garments on offer in British high street stores and offering tutorials for other Muslimahs to follow.
Hanna wants us to respect her choice to wear hijab while denigrating women who don’t wear it, suggesting they’re slaves of the western fashion industry. So what does your decision to wear hijab make you, Hanna?
Someone who thought of a cool way to escape consumerism and the fashion industry all by herself, by independently inventing a way of wrapping up the head and neck in a manner that just happens to look like a familiar religious garment. What a free spirit! And the lacy dress and makeup are her own invention too.
And, correct me if I am wrong, there are no countries in the world that make the wearing of a bikini mandatory unlike the hijab, which is compulsory in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Women in those countries are flogged if they disobey the strict dress code. What happened to their choice? It is easy for Hanna, a privileged Western woman, to insist it’s her choice, but about the rights of her sisters in Muslim countries? They do not have that luxury.
If wearing the hijab is a feminist symbol of rejection of western objectification of women as sex objects then does that mean wearing the full Afghan style burqa or Saudi style niqab is a stronger feminist statement, as both garments remove all identifiers of the woman as a sexualised individual?
No. Unless Hanna Yusuf decides in the future to wear a burqa or abaya, in which case yes. (But if she does she will have invented the burqa or abaya herself. It won’t be the one that’s already been invented.)
When I was nine years old, I was taught in mosque that if I did not cover my hair, Satan would urinate on it. No wonder it looks great, I hear you say. Jokes aside, imagine hearing that as a young child. Not only was it terrifying but the concept of shame was instilled in me at a young age, something which is the case for many young girls around the world. Many Muslim women who do not wear the hijab are constantly made to feel guilty about it.
Well, you know…flies…