Muslim women are respected,
For many students who have enrolled at
this University for the first time, you have probably noticed how diverse
it is compared to where you previously were.
There are so many different people acting
and dressing in so many different ways. Some of us look at those people
and wonder what makes them behave and dress the
way they do. It's incredibly hot and humid;
why are those Muslim girls completely covered from head to toe? Are they
forced to do it against their will?
If you are someone who believes that Muslim
women cover themselves (wear Hijab) because they are the symbol of absolute
subjugation and are in dire need of rescue, or
that having such women as part of the
North American landscape is frightening, or that they are "the veiled woman,"
belonging to some foreign place, or that they are
poisoning this "free and democratic" culture
with their "weak and submissive ways" -- this column is for you.
In the Western world, the Hijab has come
to symbolize either forced silence or radical, unconscionable militancy.
In reality, it's neither. It is simply a woman's assertion that
judgment of her physical person is to
play no role whatsoever in social interaction.
Progressiveness for women is unfortunately
still defined by how much we are willing to reveal. The more power women
seem to gain, the more compelled they are to take
off their clothes.
This paradox is at the root of the confusion
faced by North American women: they are supposed to be strong, independent
and assertive yet, at the same time, they are
made slaves to an ideal physical image
which cannot be achieved by the vast majority of women.
This duality is a marketable commodity.
Take the fashion industry, for example; the hottest look of the season
is usually full of glossy lipsticks, slip dresses, and spiked heels.
Women object to it; they hate the fact
that the female body is used for selling everything from cosmetics to clothing
to cars. Yet when Muslim women cover themselves up
and protest the very same thing, they
are conversely regarded as being oppressed.
The confusion about women's freedom is
terminal. While some fight against what they see as objectifying women,
others feel the ideal way to ultimate freedom for women is
the right to exploit themselves in public.
The rationale seems to be that once our bodies are desexualized then it
will be safer for us to go out on the streets. We just have to
give up our dignity, our modesty and our
privacy. And it is in the midst of all this confusion that women in Hijab
have arrived. Their unwillingness to play into the hands of
either side has earned them scorn.
The Hijab allows a woman to step outside
her home with her attention on the tasks she has set out to do. The Muslim
woman does not try to impress anyone but Allah when
outside her home. She is not concerned
if men find her attractive, or if people are impressed because she has
the latest fashions, or the newest hairstyle. She leaves her
home as a self-confident part of the human
race, not as a fashion plate seeking stares and adoration in order to gain
The Hijab cuts down on competition among
women. How many people in the West sacrifice financial savings and health
in order to have plastic surgery -- in a desperate
attempt to meet up to an unrealistic standard
In Islam, women are appreciated for their
knowledge, piety, and contribution to society. When women wear Hijab one
finds that the most beautiful women are not
necessarily the most popular. Rather,
a woman is assessed for her mind, and not just superficial physical traits.
So who is oppressed? An oppressed woman
is one who has the inability to see the society for what it really is.
Oppression is abiding by the idea that a woman's beauty is
public, and that lustful admiration is
equal to respect. True equality will be had only when women don't need
to display themselves to get attention and won't need to defend
their decision to keep their bodies to