I wonder how many progressive never-Muslims find this convincing and are tricked into thinking the hijab (and other such Islamic coverings) are some neutral thing that are only bad when the Taliban or ISIL enforces them. This is what my issue with people like Yusuf is. They’re doing a disservice by calling the concept and practice of hijab a way to avoid sexual exploitation or some sort of statement on behalf of women.
Also, let’s be very clear here that advocating for the right of hijabi women to feel safe in non-Muslim societies is not the same as defending the notion of hijab. She does not need to defend the hijab in general in order to defend women wearing hijab.
This is the stupidest thing I’ve read in quite a while:
Last week, I made a video for The Guardian newspaper’s website. In it, I explained how I see the hijab as a feminist statement. As far as I’m concerned this is a straightforward statement; it follows directly from my experience of the world.
This is pure bullshit. It does not follow from experiencing the world. How can a headdress which is required (or very sternly expected) of you by the male-dominated society around you be a feminist statement? And that is what the hijab is for very large parts of the Muslim world. It is a requirement and you face punishment of varying degree for not following it: mistreatment by family, harassment by community, fines by your government, or even corporal punishment.
Second, the issue of what the hijab is is quite simple. It is a disgusting tool used by a very patriarchal system to treat women like objects whose sexuality is used to bring honor or shame to their guardians and their community at large. That is all it is. I’m sorry, but the hijab hasn’t gotten to the point where it can be used by the targets themselves like some racial slurs can be used. Most of the Muslim world isn’t there yet.
An analogy I like to use about this is that there are arranged marriages that work out for the husband and wife. I know of several in my family alone. Just as you can be assigned a random roommate and end up becoming great friends, you can be arrange-married to a stranger and end up being a good match. This says absolutely nothing in defense of the coercive and anti-choice practice of arranged marriage. Just because some women feel that living with the requirement that your head must be wrapped in a cloth even in very hot weather is a good thing for them does not do a damn thing to paint the actual practice of hijab as it exists in large parts of Muslim societies in a good light.
The hijab is antithetical to feminism.
It’s all about choice. The question is: how many Muslim women who wear hijab around the world do it out of 100% personal choice and stand to face absolutely no criticism or violence for removing it whenever and wherever they choose? When the practice of hijab becomes nothing more than a personal choice, only then may it be considered a feminist statement. In other words, when a Muslim woman in a Muslim family and Muslim community can wear a hijab on Monday and then not wear it on a Tuesday (without receiving so much as a mean glance from her family and community), then we’ll talk about the hijab being a neutral or good thing.