A few yards of cloth

A young woman finds an exciting new path to liberation. She takes to wearing the hijab.

 …before you race to label me the poster girl for oppressed womanhood everywhere, let me tell you as a woman (with a master’s degree in human rights, and a graduate degree in psychology) why I see this as the most liberating experience ever.

We know. You’re taking control, you’re being seen for who you really are instead of as a female human being with hair and a neck.

My experience working as a Faiths Act Fellow for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and dealing with interfaith action for social action brought me more understanding and appreciation of various faiths. I found that engaging in numerous interfaith endeavors strengthened my personal understanding about my own faith.

Do you think she uses the word “faith” enough times in that passage? Maybe a few hundred more would get her point across better?

Tony Blair, you have a lot to answer for.

I am abundantly aware of the rising concerns and controversies over how a few yards of cloth covering a woman’s head is written off as a global threat to women’s education, public security, rights and even religion. I am also conscious of the media’s preferred mode of portraying all hijabi women as downtrodden and dominated by misogynist mullahs or male relatives who enforce them into sweltering pieces of oppressive clothing. But I believe my hijab liberates me.

Despite the reality of the misogynist mullahs and the conservative male relatives – she “believes” the hijab liberates her, and faith can move mountains, so there you go.

For someone who passionately studied and works for human rights and women’s empowerment, I realized that working for these causes while wearing the hijab can only contribute to breaking the misconception that Muslim women lack the strength, passion and power to strive for their own rights.

No, that’s not accurate – that “only” is wrong. Working for women’s rights while wearing the hijab can also for instance send the message that you’re confused, or that your religion trumps your commitment to women’s rights, or other possibilities that you probably don’t like.

In a society that embraces uncovering, how can it be oppressive if I decided to cover up? I see hijab as the freedom to regard my body as my own concern and as a way to secure personal liberty in a world that objectifies women. I refuse to see how a woman’s significance is rated according to her looks and the clothes she wears. I am also absolutely certain that the skewed perception of women’s equality as the right to bare our breasts in public only contributes to our own objectification. I look forward to a whole new day when true equality will be had with women not needing to display themselves to get attention nor needing to defend their decision to keep their bodies to themselves.

Uh huh, but the hijab isn’t the opposite of baring your breasts, it’s the opposite of baring your hair and neck.  Different thing. It’s very easy to refrain from baring your breasts without putting on a hijab. There are lots of ways you can attempt to secure personal liberty in a world that objectifies women without wearing a hijab, and wearing one is in many ways a very bad way to attempt to secure personal liberty.