Wearing a Headscarf is a Choice…Unless You Choose Not To Wear One

The horror!

The horror!

A Saudi Arabia news channel is taking some heat after one of their female news anchors (gasp) went on television without a head scarf:

A Saudi Arabian TV channel is fielding complaints from viewers after a female anchor appeared on a news program without covering her head.

The unnamed journalist has previously anchored on the state-run Al Ekhbariya channel while wearing a hijab, but in a recent broadcast, her long black hair hung loosely around her shoulders while she read the day’s news.

The appearance sparked outrage on social networks in the conservative Islamic country, the Independent reports, with some condemning the break from traditions.

So much for that whole choice thing. Sure, you have the choice to not wear one, but as soon as you do, we’re going to condemn you for it. In fact, we’re not just going to condemn you for showing your hair, but we’re going to apologize for you even conceiving of such an outlandish idea.

Saleh Al Mughailif, a representative for Saudi radio and television, explained that the news anchor was speaking from a studio in London.

“She was not in a studio inside Saudi Arabia and we do not tolerate any transgression of our values and the country’s systems,” he said.

The spokesman said that the station will take measures to ensure that the incident isn’t repeated.

They should take steps to ensure it’s repeated often – or as often as women choose to go with their head uncovered.

I’ve written before about the wearing of headscarves, and been told that it’s a choice. It seems suspicious to me that all women decide (by choice) to wear the same thing. If I look outside right now, I don’t see all women wearing skirts. I don’t see all women wearing jeans. I don’t see all women wearing sweaters or T-shirts. You’d think that if women truly had a choice to wear what they wanted, you’d see a little bit of diversity.

Is it really a choice or is it mandated religiously and culturally?

Here’s your answer in Saudi Arabia at least:

Lashes, hanging and even beheading are among the punishments awaiting women convicted of blasphemy, apostasy, adultery and witchcraft.

It is illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia and Islamic codes of behaviour and dress are strictly enforced by the “mutawa” religious police.

What is considered acceptable varies across the country, with the full veil (niqab) worn almost universally in the more conservative capital Riyadh, whereas some women opt for the hijab in the more relaxed city of Jeddah.

It’s 2014 and we still have countries where women are forbidden to drive or go with their head uncovered. They face horrible punishments for superstitious crimes such as witchcraft, and they’re harassed by religious police.

It’s outrageous and we need to start asking ourselves ‘why’. Why are these regions of the world oppressing women so openly? Why are women treated like animals? Why are men thought to be unable to control themselves around women if they show their hair or a patch of skin?



  1. I certainly agree this is religious repression in action. And, I would add, I’m not sure those of us in the “West” can be too critical until we “lift the veil” of our own repression and oppression of women. I also admit that, though a woman’s body is a beauty to behold and sexuality is a wonderful natural joy, it is somewhat refreshing that there are cultures where the body is not on display and advertising sexuality everywhere you look.

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