How it creates a dangerous space for non-hijabi women
Instant gratification, on the spot judging, 30 second reels. This is our life now.
We accepted it.
Yet, I find it extremely difficult to accept the simplistic virtue signal around the issue of Hijab. What started out as the “right to wear the hijab on the head” in college has now evolved into the right to wear the full burka veil.
I am not against Hijab for religious reasons. Not at all. Religion is a source of great help to many. Nor do I advocate militant atheism or antitheism. I also believe that women should be able to decide what they want, without being judged. This is what women have been fighting for for over a hundred years now, these are freedoms worth fighting for.
But the devil, as they say, is in the details.
I summarize them in five points below.
Women’s safety is more important than any religion
The hijab is obligatory in Islam. You can go on saying it’s a choice all you want, but every religious scholar will tell you it’s obligatory or face punishment. Add to this the attitude this invariably leads to – that only women wearing the hijab are virtuous and it quickly degenerates into a society where non-hijabi women, Muslim or not, are dehumanized. And we also have overwhelming examples. At least 5,000 very young women, raped, sold into prostitution and exploited in British grooming gangs, all belonged to this class of dehumanized women. Harmless? NO!
Even if women preach misogyny, it’s still wrong
Just because some, mostly high-caste Muslim women, advocate the hijab doesn’t mean it’s a feminist voice. They only express the Islamic patriarchy for religious reasons. A valid comparison would be the role some women played in opposing first and second wave feminism. Patriarchy supported by women is still patriarchy.
You don’t have to support Hijab just because your political opponents oppose it
This intellectual honesty and courage are expected of educated people. On the one hand, educated and privileged Muslim women, who themselves don’t wear a hijab or burqa and identify as “feminists”, have championed a symbol of women’s oppression for decades. On the other hand, there are Muslim women in countries like Afghanistan under the rule of an Islamist group such as the Taliban where they are killed for fighting for their right NOT to wear a hijab. Because if the hijab is a choice, not wearing it should also be a choice, right? Your activism cannot be based on convenience.
All clothes are not the same
It is simplistic, even dishonest to say that all clothes are identical. A girl wearing modern clothes is actually defying societal rules of what is acceptable behavior that guarantees safety. Anyone who advocates the Hijab is doing the exact opposite. Many Muslim men only consider hijabi women worthy of respect. Islamists believe that a woman who is only covered is a virtuous woman.
A poster in India recently showed burqa-covered women saying “everything valuable is always in a pardah and the garbage is always open”. This type of ideology dehumanizes non-hijabi women and paints them as a target. This makes public spaces unsafe for non-hijabi women.
Sacrifice feminism on the altar of the covenant
Let’s stop pretending that everything I said above is new. This is the basis of what we have fought for over a hundred years. Social media feminists pretending not to know these fundamentals; their refusal to analyze the social impact of the opinions they defend; undoes the basics of feminism.
Of course, allying with any group, especially one they consider oppressed, is fine, but it is NOT fine when that alliance comes at the expense of feminism itself. Let us not forget that in Jammu and Kashmir, in 2002, four young women were beheaded by militants for not wearing the burka.
Choice? I dare say no.
It is time to move beyond simplistic virtue signals on the issue of Hijab and analyze the issue without bias. We owe it to the pioneers of feminism.