Abstract Chatter

I’m a hater, and haters gonna hate
December 2, 2010, 9:23 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

I’m reading this article, with the hopes of being as open minded as I possibly can. But for some reason, bits and pieces of it rubbed me the wrong me. Maybe the simple fact that a man was writing it delegitimized the entire narrative (sexist, I know- but aren’t my weaknesses diluted because I recognize my own biases?). Or maybe it was because I skimmed the article, and missed the essence of what he was trying to say…but either way…

Let’s begin with the author’s assumptions:

1) That hijab is a choice, and not a mandate.

The problem is, depending on who is the authorizing force is, a hijab could be a choice for a child and an obligation for an adult. OR it could be a choice for an adult (and through transitive property, a choice for a child) per his suggestion.

If it’s an obligation for an adult, then it could mean the child (close to the age of puberty) is preparing for what God has prescribed. (Such as prayer and fasting, as he mentioned in the article.)

2) He’s making the assumption that context is irrelevant, simply by his universal tone in describing the hijab. (ie, a hijab in Egypt does not have the same meaning or understanding as a hijab in the States or in the West.) As much as we attempt to amalgamate our experiences into one, there’s a clear distinction. (Albeit one that I can’t fully define quickly.)

He is utterly unclear about his audience. He uses Egypt as the foundation of all his examples, yet his target audience are British citizens. The connections between the two are weak and it really produces an inadequate narrative.  In Egypt, the hijab can be associated as more of a cultural garb, which might not be the case in the West. Therefore, the idea of force is entirely different. And it just may be that all the little girls are wearing their fashionable, multi-colored scarves with bows along the side—making it a fad above anything else, and thus innocuous.

He should clarify what his intentions are, and who he aims to speak with.

3) How erroneous it is to say that sexuality is restricted to a specific age group. The fact that young children are having sex, or engaging in sexual behavior is a fact which cannot be ignored. But by no means, do I suggest to the solution to promiscuity is a hijab.

Now on to the points that disturb me, in some shape or form:

  • “Adult Muslim women are expected to dress modestly so that men outside the family cannot see their bodies.”

How is that men are left out of this conversation. From my very simplistic understanding, modesty is applicable to both genders. And we’ve once again, reduced hijab once again to sexuality, when in actuality, this “covering” encompasses so much more.

Here you have the author wanting freedom of choice; freedom for pre-pubescent girls to choose what to wear and not to wear, but he feels suffocated by the doll in an abaya. Maybe it’s not the most ideal of Barbie characters, but it’s another choice that a child can have between a blond, partially naked Barbie number 1, and a blond bikini-wearing Barbie number 2. Much research has been conducted on the psychology of young girls and dolls that resemble themselves… finding dolls “that represent some version of the reality of our tonal diversity.” It’s a critical component to a child’s upbringing and identity.

  • “If they see that their sisters have to be covered up from a very early age to avoid being exposed in front of men, it is only natural that they grow up with the concept that women have to be covered, controlled and restricted.”

REALLY? Why is child-rearing not part of the equation? Boys will of course think like this if we allow such a mentality to perpetuate in our society. It becomes necessary upon our society to educate men and dismantle myths on sexuality and women.

I agree that a childhood should be left untouched, and depriving one of such a thing is repulsive. And I may have played devil’s advocate throughout my blog. I just feel blessed to have enough mental faculty to see that we need to step our game up (at least in the West) when it comes to hijab and the beard; and not diminish our understanding of religion and of piety to the two VERY surface level characteristics. Or maybe I’m just being a hater.

Also, food for thought: Oprah magazine: 9-year old girl asks to wear hijab, shocked mom’s reaction