Ditch the Hijab

Demonstration_of_Hijab_&_modesty_in_Nishapur-_July_12_2013_10There’s a Tumblr photo project that features Muslim women who have ditched their hijabis.

When I saw the news story, a huge smile appeared on my face. I have issues with the hijab and the way it’s used to oppress women. It’s nice to read a news story about women who are fighting against the oppression in a non-violent, ingenious way.

From the bio:

Featuring ex-hijabis with awesome hairstyles and tattoos and piercings. Ex-hijabis in bikinis and little black dresses and cargo pants and hiking boots. Ex-hijabis who are femme and ex-hijabis who are butch. Ex-hijabis who are women and ex-hijabis who are men. Ex-hijabis topless and legsome and all decked out and minimalistic and with long hair and buzzcuts and everything. EVERYTHING.

The project is run by a woman going by the name, Marwa. Her bio page says this:

I am an ex-Muslim, an apostate, an atheist, an escapee from the Middle East, a victim of both religious-based violence at the hands of my own family and the crushing Western war machine in my homeland,”

I’ve had conversation with Muslim men who say the hijab is a sign of respect. Some have argued that it’s even a sign of reverence.

I find it strange then that none of the men are rushing to wear one. If wearing a bag is a sign of respect, then there must be men who are worthy of the same respect…right?

When I’ve pointed this out to them, I’m usually met with silence.

The article points out another problem I have with the hijab:

The debate over Muslim women’s wardrobe choices is obviously contentious. On the one hand many believe veil customs, and in some cases violently enforced laws, reduce women’s agency. In addition, Marwa contends that “Your body is awesome and not a shame!” In this she directly challenges the beliefs held by many in the Muslim community (and in the more fundamentalist Christian community under a set of ideas broadly described as “modesty culture” and “purity culture”). The set of beliefs include the idea that sex, and by extension women’s bodies, are shameful whenever they are displayed or enjoyed in the “wrong” context.

The veil and modesty and purity culture are also entwined with the idea that men are incapable of respecting women’s bodily agency or controlling their own thoughts if “too much” of a woman’s body is on display. These teachings lead many women to conclude that their bodies are shameful things which need to stay hidden. And they put women in the unenviable position of having full responsibility for maintaining chastity, keeping themselves from being assaulted, and even for what goes on in other people’s minds.

The highlighted part is my doing.

Not only does the hijab oppress women, but I think it shames men as well. It makes the statement that men are worse than animals, and all we need to see is a small bit of uncovered skin for our minds to turn directly towards sex and sometimes even rape.

However, I also don’t agree with people when they say the hijab should be outlawed. I understand why they make that argument, but I also think that to do so makes us no better than the religious authorities that mandate the wearing of the hijab. I would rather try my best to dissuade people from using the hijab than to have it made mandatory that no one can wear it if they wish.

What do you think of the hijab and do you think it should be banned, like it is in France?




  1. I find the hijab to be repulsive and disturbing, just like Christian “modesty clothing”, creepy “Purity Balls” and Jewish women (Hasidic) who shave their heads and wear atrocious wigs. I would mock and satirize it, but I would not outlaw it. I think laughter is more powerful than outlawing.

    A male friend and I once pulled a crazy stunt where he pretended to be my “Godly-Servant-Leader” husband so we went to a wacky Evangelical church that preaches “traditional roles” with me in a dog collar, duck tape over my mouth and a leash. We received stares and finally someone asked what was going on and my fake “Christian husband” explained that he was exercising his leadership role in “Christian Domestic Discipline”. We provided them with pamphlets on this delightful Bible-based practice:


    We sat through the sermon and when we left, we could not stop laughing. Sometimes you have to stage, perform, their own insanity so that , hopefully, some small measure of reason can be mirrored back at them.

  2. The hijab is one of the most misunderstood parts of culture, and it’s really kind of tragic.

    Inherently, there is nothing wrong or oppressive about wearing one. It certainly can be a sign of oppression when women are told they HAVE to wear one and men act like not wearing one makes them disrespectful.

    But, as you said, for women in that culture wearing one is a sign of reverence and respect. The reason men don’t wear one is because there’s a lot more pressure for a woman’s face to look beautiful than there is for a man’s. Is that wrong? Yeah, but one problem at a time.

    I knew feminists in college who spent semesters abroad in countries where women wore these and they said they -loved- wearing them. They said it gave them a sense of privacy they didn’t have in America and eliminated the pressure to fix their face up before walking out of the house. They even said they were times they wished they could wear one.

    I have nothing problem with women wearing these as long as they have the freedom to wear it. I don’t consider it a sign of oppression, it’s a chance for women to stay private rather than force them to make themselves up as if they’re going on display.

  3. As a European I’m more familiar with the contentious laws in France than the root problem of the hijab itself. How is it liberating to make a law banning a woman from wearing her clothes? It makes as much sense to me to ban a woman from covering her breasts in public. Most of us just wouldn’t go out and that’s the only thing the French laws result in, less women from these cultures seen in public. It makes me really mad to think they are trapped between two cultures ordering them to wear it or not to wear it!

    Seeing them cast off their own veils is wonderful, of course. While I doubt I’d ever enjoy wearing a hijab, I hope the headscarf will some day become a fashion accessory, because they can be so beautiful, but I can’t wear one for fear of the religious and political implications.

  4. It’s crap. Period.
    Remove the cultural/religious context and ask any woman if she would feel happy to wear one and I’ll wager pretty much anything that most would say no straight out unless it was deemed a fashion statement or to keep the sun off their heads while riding a camel or suchlike.
    As you rightly point out, blokes don’t wear one and wouldn’t dream of wearing one either, so why should women?

      • It also baffles me that they are ‘insisted’ upon to preserve modesty and protect women from lusting sinful (not Muslim, of course) men, like me, who would no doubt upon encountering a Muslim lady in the supermarket not wearing such garb would immediately do a Bruce Banner and, overcome by some aberrant form of deranged baser urge, sexually assault her in Isle 21; up against the Cornflakes and All Bran continuing until we reach the packets of sugar and the Nescafe display.
        Meanwhile, my wife and the lady’s husband ( or male companion, as she is not allowed out on her own, of course) are busy loading their respective trolley’s with (her) dog biscuits ( on Special for one week only), packet trifle and un-perfumed deodorant, (him)Halal chicken, Halal razor blades and Halal multi-purpose oil because the damn gate keeps squeaking, and their bloody dogs go into a frenzy every time I come home from Mosque.
        And they, like every other shopper are completely oblivious to my assault and her screaming blue murder.

        And yet,even though I am now labelled as lecherous bastard on trial and soon to be put behind bars , she is the one getting stoned to death for being raped.

        Common sense, really.

        Sheesh, chuffin’ headcases, the lot of them.

  5. Being an avid fan of the Ninja, I was always quite supportive of full head dress until I found out that people wearing the burqa in particular, weren’t necessarily masked assassins. You can imagine my disappointment.
    I’m not sure I can entirely agree on the matter of “choice” when you disagree with the French law. Can we say with any certainty, that there are no women that are under duress by their male partners to wear such garments and that their rights shouldn’t also be protected?
    If we pass laws removing religious paraphernalia, are we taking away people’s right to follow medieval doctrine, or are we setting a new code of practice that provides for a more cohesive society?

  6. Pingback: Wearing a Headscarf is a Choice…Unless You Choose Not To Do It | Godless Cranium

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