December 17th, 2022
The Meaning of Hijab

The hijab for me exemplifies fear and humiliation. It symbolizes a system based on misogynist ideology trying to eliminate women from society. 

As an Iranian woman, I’ve worn a piece of cloth on my head for years, which served not only to cover my hair and body. I viewed it as a tool to suppress, control and turn women into second class citizens. 

November 2nd, 2022
Understanding the hijab from the point of view of an American woman raised in a Muslim community here. She no longer wears the hijab.

We were taught that the “awrah” (private area) for a woman is her entire body except for her hands and her face… We were taught that the Islamic hijab is an order from God, and not a choice… Most Muslims … tend to see the veiled woman as “pure” and therefore more deserving of respect, while an unveiled woman is seen as a “fitnah” (corruption)…

In recent years, the West has seen movements normalizing the headscarf, which I am not entirely opposed to. I do not believe that veiled women should be attacked or face discrimination in the workplace. However, considering its history as well as the way it is used in Islamic theocracies, I do not think the hijab could be feminist nor be truly “empowering.”  

While Western feminists may support Muslim women’s right to wear the headscarf, they should remember that there are those of us who seek the liberty to remove it — both in theocratic states and in Western nations. Many of us may not be controlled by a mullah but by our families and communities.

October 18th, 2022
‘A girl should not be obliged to wear a hijab aged 7. I live in a largely Muslim neighborhood in Brussels and girls mostly start wearing a hijab somewhere between 12 and 14.’

Between 12 and 14 ain’t so cool either, and 7, as this writer correctly notes, is absolutely out of the question – parents are in the position of forcing modesty garments on someone too young to choose to wear them.

The parents are doing it because you want to get your daughter used to thinking that covering up is her only option in life. It’s the only thing she’s ever known. She’s always hidden her hair (and probably her body – such girls are often put in body-hiding robes).

The observation in my headline is one of many comments on a NYT article about multiple lawsuits, character-assassination, and life-destruction resulting from a seconds-long incident in which a 7 year old hijabi’s teacher touched her hijab. Was it an innocuous effort to clear the girl’s vision, which seemed to the teacher for a moment to be obscured by the hijab? Was it a vicious humiliating “stripping” of the girl’s clothing, self-respect, and personal integrity?

Another commenter:

[W]hy is a seven-year old girl wearing a hijab? A hijab is a statement of modesty, a way of deflecting unwanted attention from unrelated males. The girl is seven! In what culture are such innocent creatures the objects of unwanted sexual attention?

The answer is clear: You want girls from the moment they enter the public realm to see themselves as destructive temptresses; and you certainly want them to regard all males as people to whose drives and dominance they must in every way from the very beginning of their conscious lives defer.

Another commenter:

I’m sorry, why is a seven-year-old girl covering her hair? What does she have to be modest about at age seven?? I thought girls were only put under hijab when they began menstruating? How early in our lives do girls and women have to have others’ expectations and projections of what it means to be a “good girl” or “ladylike” foisted upon us?

Another:

I am mostly sorry for the child. Having lived in very conservative parts of the Middle East for some time, I know that seven-year-old children typically don’t wear hijabs unless their parents are really extreme religious fundamentalists.

********************

In Muslim countries where I lived, hijabs are not worn by 7 year olds. Girls starting puberty wear them. Forcing a 7 year old to wear one sounds…

*********************

[T]he early Muslims including Prophet Muhammad PBUH did not preach covering the heads of pre-pubescent girls. This trend simply marks the increase of religious conflict and religious fundamentalism (across many religions).

**********************

More on this controversy.

**********************

Tarek Fatah on Twitter: “Forcing #Hijab on a 7-year-old American girl? Has my Muslim community lost their bearings? Imagine telling a child, her hair triggers sexual desire among men! What has gone wrong with my Muslim community? What next? A hijab for newly-born infant girls?”

October 16th, 2022
They keep coming at the EU high court, grievances flying…

…. but time and time and time again the court affirms the right of businesses to ban hijabs.

Relying on two previous headscarf-related rulings, the five-judge panel held that employment policies that ban head coverings do not violate EU employment law so long as they are applied in “a general and undifferentiated way.” 

Not sure why, given airtight certainty that they won’t win, the cases keep coming.

The solution for women who absolutely refuse to part with their modesty garments seems pretty obvious: Try to get a job at the tons of other workplaces in Europe that don’t object to modesty garments, or perhaps try to move to a part of the world (Indonesia, for instance, is full of hijabs, and lacks Iran’s violent insistence on them) where no one is going to object to them.

October 15th, 2022
GETTIN’ HIJJY WIT IT!

The hijab-obsessed Iranian regime needs help. Millions across the country are stripping off – and burning – their hijabs, a non-negotiable modesty garment as far as the mullahs running the country are concerned. The little hat that hides at least a bit of female obscenity (the body-covering robe women are encouraged to add to the hijab certainly helps even more in the endless task of making women somewhat less obscene) means everything to the guys, and their government’s tanking as much of their population says fuck the hijab.

Short of shooting everybody to death, the government appears to be trying some soft power. Most recently, it displayed, in central Tehran, an enormous billboard with a photo collage of happy proud Iranian women brandishing their wondrous hijab. Immediately a number of the women demanded their photo be removed; they might have worn the thing once under duress, but they hate it and they hate the regime.

Some of these women are high-profile performing artists, and they filmed themselves denouncing the ‘murderous,’ ‘disgusting,’ regime.

Funny, ain’t it, how erasing images of women from everywhere is Job #1 in many Islamic regimes (and of course in their doppelgangersultra-Orthodox Jewish circles), but when they start feeling truly endangered they plaster women’s photos in the city square…

Anyhoo here’s the help they didn’t ask for but will now get.

You wanna keep women in hijabs you need to launch a trendy American style campaign, with goofy bold ecstatic young Iranian women dancing wildly while singing a new hit song, inspired by the massive Will Smith hit, Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It. The Gettin’ Hijjy Wit It campaign will transform the hijab from a drab oppressive requirement to a wild and crazy Fun Thing. Trust UD. Give it a go.

October 13th, 2022
What a Hijab Revolution Sounds Like

From New York Magazine:

From the first day, I put my scarf in my bag and never put it back on my head. We know that we can be arrested for not wearing our scarves, but we know that people will defend us. And the police know how angry people are. At night, I look online for tips on how to defend myself: if they tie my hands and legs, how I should fight back. We share this information with each other and take it very seriously. 

**************************

What is a priority for me is true freedom, collective freedom — where we have a route to express our grievances. It’s striking for me to see the younger generation on the streets — people in their early 20s. They are extremely brave — more so than I. I think the government itself was not expecting this generation to be this fiery. Any stereotypes about women as fragile and weak are completely gone.

****************************

It’s not unusual to see girls wearing hijab among the protesting students. Girls with scarves and girls without scarves hold hands together and chant slogans demanding justice and freedom of choice to wear what they want. It is common to see women without scarves walking around the city. I saw a young girl without a scarf boldly pass in front of police on the street. A few meters away, some young Basijis ran after her. The girl continued walking slowly. When the Basijis approached her, she turned around and shouted, “What, what? Come on, kill me. Don’t you want that? Just like you did to Mahsa and Hadis?” All three of them stopped dead in their tracks, shock visible on their faces. They didn’t dare say another word.

Even if the government wants to fight to enforce the dress code, it can’t. It’s impossible to count how many women are bravely walking without their headscarves. These days, no morality police can be seen on the streets.

**************************

This is a critique of unequal power relations in all forms — of anyone who is stepping on your rights and limiting your freedom. This critique can be applied in every time and place. The worst thing that could happen would be if people in other countries look at us and see us as poor, oppressed women who are stuck fighting for rights like American and European women did a century ago — that they think we’re at the beginning of the road. People need to understand that our fight is shared with people all over the world including themselves.

________________________________________

Don’t you want that? Don’t you want to kill me? She’s right – annihilating women under burqas, policing them in hijabs, removing the genitals of baby girls, making them clean themselves up all the time in ritual baths, refusing to sit next to them on planes and buses, erasing them and their images from the public square, making beating them legally permissible, etc. – they do want to kill her.

What’s striking in the scene described is the apparent shock on the part of the Basijis as they confront, no doubt for the first time, this desire.

As for their confronter: She can die protesting in the streets, or she can rot to death behind their shrouding and numbing and homicidality.

October 13th, 2022
As Switzerland proposes $1,000 penalties for wearing a …

… burqa (they’ve had a ban for a while), and as Aljazeera restates the party line on how appalling it all is, let me link to this UD post.

October 8th, 2022
Voices in Support of Truly Secular Canadian Schools

Quebec’s bill prohibiting public school teachers from wearing the hijab remains popular. Here, from this time last year, are comments — from immigrants from Muslim countries — on the bill:

“For me the hijab is a symbol of inferiority even if they [the Muslim teachers] say they don’t feel inferior or superior or equal to men. It’s a symbol of inferiority and I insist on that point,” said Ferroudja Mohand, who immigrated to Quebec from Algeria in 2011.

Mohand said she is worried that her daughter will be influenced by a teacher who wears the hijab at her school and decide to take up the practice. 

“Teachers must be neutral because children are impressionable,” Mohand said.

Ensaf Haidar, whose husband is the imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, said she is “shocked” when she sees Quebec women dressed in Muslim religious clothing given how they are treated in Saudi Arabia.

“The hijab is not a good image for Quebec,” said Haidar, who fled Saudi Arabia not long before her husband’s arrest in 2012.

Djaafar Bouchilaoun, an Algerian immigrant and father of two, told the court he considered the hijab an affront to his “dignity as a man” because it supposes men are sexual threats to women.

A teacher who wears a hijab, he said, is sending “subtle messages” to children. He called the hijab a “symbol of Islamist proselytizing,” adding: “It is pernicious because of it.”

The parents were called by two pro-secular groups — Mouvement laïque québécois and Pour les droits des femmes du Québec — who have intervenor status in the case. 

As part of their defence of the law, lawyers for Mouvement laïque québécois are arguing that rather than strip minorities of rights, Bill 21 upholds the rights of parents to have their children receive a secular education.

“This is a necessary condition for the freedom of conscience,” Guillaume Rousseau, a lawyer for the Mouvement, said in a recent interview.

October 8th, 2022
Snapshots from Tehran

 At the juice stands and shopping complexes that were open, nearly all the young women had their head scarves down, as did middle-aged women doing their shopping. What was transfixing, though, was seeing bareheaded women in central parts of the city where such liberties are rarer, on the backs of motorcycles darting down Enghelab Street, at cafes frequented by university students. At an outdoor mall in eastern Tehran, a young woman flounced past a stall selling shawls and head scarves. “Pack up and go, sir. Don’t you know this is all over?” she exclaimed, sweeping her arm past his wares. “Why don’t you buy them and then burn them?” he suggested, smiling.

October 7th, 2022
‘The Quran does not stipulate that women shouldn’t drive, as in Saudi Arabia, or that women should be forced to wear conservative dress. While the Quran asks both men and women to dress modestly, it does not discriminate.’

How many times must it be said? There’s no scriptural warrant for the hijab, much less the medieval burqa. Iran mandates hijabs because its leaders prefer women to be stashed away. But women refuse to be stashed away, and now Iran’s leaders are shooting them dead.

October 6th, 2022
‘I struggle a bit with [the columnist’s] explanation. The gut test I use is replacing burqa, in relation to the Halloween reference, with any other religious attire — the turban, yarmulke, the Pope’s garments, for example.’

Ah, but we all know the burqa represents a different category from the examples of religious attire the Toronto Star‘s public editor lists.

He’s explaining to readers why he erased part of an opinion writer’s column about the hijab revolution. At one point the columnist jumped from hijab to burqa and – rather like Boris Johnson comparing wearers to letter boxes – commented that the women in them seem to be wearing Halloween costumes. This was deemed too offensive to retain.

If, as seems likely to me, many girls and women hidden under black hoods and robes are oppressed (a lot of them probably envy the hijab that’s causing all that trouble in Iran), I don’t suppose it’s very nice to add to their downtrodden condition by taking these sorts of jabs at them… OTOH, you could argue that, short of outlawing it (which much of the world – and, for many public-facing circumstances, some of Canada – has done), various forms of verbal complaint about it might help give some burqa wearers the clarity/guts to stand up to their husbands/imams/communities and take them off.

And as for the editor’s effort to see it as equal to turbans and yamulkes (The thing about the pope is ridiculous, though it does reveal the radicality, the extremity, the editor rightly intuits about burqa-wearers — tens of thousands of ordinary citizens dressing every day in a look comparable to that of the head of the global Catholic church? You expect to see lots of people every day in Toronto dressed like the pope? Even the pope doesn’t routinely dress like the pope.), there’s a vas deferens between guys plunking a small or even large head covering on their noggin, and the astounding full-body coverage (including black gloves so you can’t even see fingers) of the burqa. The way it blocks access to basics, like sunlight, free movement, full vision — much less simple interaction with other people in the world. The way it features black cloth over your mouth. The way it subjects eight year old girls to this.

Nope. The burqa is incomparably problematic, which a glance at its legal status in much of the world will reveal.

October 4th, 2022
‘[Y]ou can’t escape from the sight of the gradual public deconstruction of modesty norms. If you are motivated to remain loyal to the [Iranian] Islamic Republic, you can’t rationalize it away nor can you live in denial of it. And since you (the ultra-religious supporter of the regime) are raised to think that it is the duty of women to prevent you from sensing arousal and being tempted to sin, you cannot ignore the fact that the city has become much more titillating, which you will interpret as directly hostile to your own spiritual well-being.’

[T]he regime should have let go of hijab,… even if we consider nothing but its self-interest in surviving. The younger generation would have persisted in their blissful political inactivity, and the poor horny basijis would have soon learned to acclimate to the new situation, their libido subconsciously adjusting to the new normal.

It’s all so neat and easy. What’s so hard to understand? You remove girls’ clitorises so they don’t sexually excite themselves; you remove their hair, faces, and bodies from the public realm so they don’t excite men. Women happily, proudly wear the hijab, because “it is the duty of women.” Men protect their spiritual well-being by draping cloth over women and numbing women’s capacity to feel anything sexual, thus making them even less threatening to men’s spiritual well-being. A beautiful world any of us would wish to live in.

Or, you know, failing that – a really … interesting, different world we would never think of judging.

September 26th, 2022
‘The blatant evidence that a woman’s failure to cover a few strands of hair can upend her right to security, life, and freedom has shocked Iran’s conscience.’

‘[A] distinct feature of the current protests is the presence of very young women at the forefront. In many of the protests, women appear to outnumber men and do not seem afraid of being seen without hijab, even in the presence of security forces…

As evinced by the outburst of public indignation triggered by [Mahsa] Amini’s death, her case is not seen as an isolated incident but the visible tip of an iceberg of injustice, humiliation, indignity, and oppression routinely felt by countless Iranian women intercepted by the so-called guidance patrols charged with enforcing Article 638 of the Islamic Penal Code: refusing to comply with state’s conception of “Islamic hijab” in public spaces is a criminal offense punishable by flogging, incarceration, or a fine…

More than four decades after the Islamic Republic embarked on the Sisyphean enterprise of bureaucratizing a very narrow definition of Islamic morality, with an almost obsessive focus on women’s appearance in public, mandatory hijab as well as the institutions set up to enforce it have failed veritably at forcing the state’s interpretation of “Islamic hijab” on Iranian women.

Instead, this encroachment on women’s liberty has gradually sown resentment in the hearts of millions of Iranian women and their families—resentment not only toward a dehumanizing law but also toward the state as a whole. Countless videos now course through social media showing the humiliating way Iranian police officers routinely manhandle women into vans before they are taken to detention centers to be “guided” and “educated.” Such encounters are at best stressful and patronizing, and at worst lethally brutal.

It is also counterproductive. In the face of such repression, women’s voluntary adherence to the state’s ideal hijab has not increased but drastically decreased over the last few decadessomething even authorities openly acknowledge. Support for the hijab law and the morality police is even lower than the rates of public compliance…’

Sajjad Safaei, Foreign Policy

*****************************

Injustice, humiliation, indignity, and oppression: It’s important to think hard about the micro-phenomenology of all the heavy black coverups – of face and mouth and breast and head and hands – reserved for the world’s women.

Now, the Syracuse University pool-drapers (see this post) will say the following: We love God, and we know that the right way to humble ourselves before our loved one is to hide from men, because above all God asks that we do not allow our female sexuality to tempt man to sin.

We can point out all we like that there’s no scriptural warrant for self-demeaning behavior whose roots lie above all, obviously, in fear – a fear of exposure and engagement and visibility that must be instilled in women at a very young age. Hijabs are something you put on your eight-year-old.

Its roots lie also in repression and self-hatred — from a young age you regard yourself as a vessel of sin that must be put away. Any stray hair may lead an innocent man to perdition. You must police your hoods and robes constantly, as do the Iranian morality police, for the slightest betrayal of your atrocious allure. It is hard to think of anything more purely, more deeply, more thoroughly, more malignantly, misogynistic.

********************

Who can be surprised that Iran’s women have correctly identified the state’s “obsessive focus” on… the economy? education?… no – on the perverted and violent erasure of women – as intimately and unacceptably humiliating every single moment of their lives? Who can have failed to grasp the self-annihilating stupidity of a state that thinks tickling the dicks of morality boys is more important than statecraft? It was always a matter of time before the lascivious/homicidal energy against women implicit in Islamic Iran’s twisted founding principle destroyed enough women and girls to detonate a populace enraged by daily sexual degradation.

All of this makes the work of Western hijabis – who disseminate material like this to free women who might be persuadable to be unfree – much, much, harder. Good.

The West’s idiot fashion enthusiasm for the hijab is due for a takedown. Here’s one.

[P]eople in the West continued to regurgitate the Islamist propaganda, insisting to we who know better that wearing hijab is simply “an empowering choice.” … You continued to parade the hijab on the cover of your magazines and books as if it was nothing more than benign cultural dress…

You actively supported extremists who encouraged you to make child-size hijabs in the name of inclusion and diversity.

Endorsing hijab on children is endorsing child abuse and gender segregation. Those are not cultural values; those are toxic misogynist ideals.

Here’s another:

When I see non-Muslim western women donning a hijab in so-called solidarity with Muslim women, I wonder if they take into consideration the oppression of women in Iran. For many, the hijab has become an odd sort of feminist symbol, but they do not take into account that the majority of women in the Muslim world only wear a hijab when they are forced to do so.

September 25th, 2022
Hey, Hijabis! You gonna let him get away with that?

A guy’s writing in the New Yorker, of all places, and he says this:

[A]s the popular legitimacy of the Iranian regime has crumbled, its leaders have clung to antiquated concepts of female modesty to prop it up.

If that doesn’t bait you, nothing will. You’ve been telling all of us that burqas, much less hijabs, are liberating choices for modern women; you have railed against burqa bans; you have organized international everyone wear a hijab days. Now, with a massive hijab burning going on in Iran, western observers seem less and less shy about saying how they really feel about the hijab and its reliable companion – big dark blowsy body robes that cover up any sign that you have a female body (these robes are also mandatory in Iran).

Remember the ill-fated Council of Europe campaign that said FREEDOM IS IN HIJAB???? Remember how it enraged politicians all over Europe and was immediately shut down and rejected by the Council of Europe itself, which basically said We fucked up?

What are we learning here, ladies?

Tell you what. The heroines of Iran are really messing up your campaign to make us see antiquated marks of female modesty as hip marks of empowerment. I see trouble ahead unless you stop being pussies and instead find your Phyllis Schlafly and let her bellow out your truth: Hijabs and body covering robes are beautiful, emancipatory…

September 24th, 2022
‘The Ukrainians’ efforts have demonstrated that liberal democracy and human dignity are causes people are still willing to fight and die for. They are showing that these ideas have great power.’

Also the Iranians’ incredibly brave efforts. The attention of the world is, rightly, on the dissenters in the streets of Tehran as well as on the Ukrainians. But the forces of illiberal democracy – A sham designation, no? Fascism is better. – in Russia, Hungary, Italy, and of course right here in the MAGA movement – are certainly on the march, and we must always call them out, and fight them with whatever weapons we have.

I do wonder about Europe’s militant hijabis. What do they have to say? Why have we not heard their opinion of this massive anti-hijab movement?

Next Page »

Latest UD posts at IHE

Archives

Categories