Yesterday was World Hijab Day, a slick piece of public relations that manages to push a religious agenda, including the second-class status of females under Islam, by appealing to liberal sentiments of Westerners. By donning this repressive garment, liberal Western women are said to empower not only themselves, but their Muslim sisters.
Of course I support a woman’s right to wear a hijab, and understand that the intent of this day is to dispel bigotry against Muslims; but I don’t support the coercion of some Muslim countries in which women don’t have a choice to cover, nor do I support social pressure in other places (including the US) for Muslim girls to start wearing the headscarf. After all, this is a garment worn as a nod to the supposedly uncontrollable lust of men, which Islam sees as a women’s duty to repress by covering their hair. (As we all know well, a few wisps of hair can lead to horrible things!) Celebrating Hijab Day is like celebrating a woman’s wearing of a ball and chain.
When I asked a friend their opinion of Hijab Day, I got this response:
I think the same as I would always think. It is a well-intentioned but pig-ignorant mush-brained gesture fetishizing a symbol of female oppression.
The site’s slideshow has these pictures. The first is the site’s header, and note that it speaks of “rights to cover” but doesn’t say something far more important: “Stand for a woman’s right NOT to cover.”
“Modesty is a part of faith”. Well, modesty is the part of faith that’s been inserted by men.
The conflation of modesty and liberation is demonstrated by the woman below.
But look at Kabul, Cairo, or Tehran 40 years ago. Women didn’t veil nearly as much then, for it wasn’t required. THEN they had a choice, and their choice was, by and large, not to cover (see my posts with photos here and here). That, of course, is ignored on World Hijab Day. And, as I’ve heard repeatedly, even women in Western countries are often forced to veil by social pressure—pressure imposed by their mosques, their family, and their peers. I seriously doubt that even a majority of hijabis in Europe or the Americans can be said to have “chosen” a veil in the sense of having worn it in the absence of any social pressure.