Happy February everyone! It’s been a while since hijab has dominated the headlines (har har). But with so many people talking about hijab-as-veil, hijab-as-appropriation, hijab-as-the-only-thing-defining-muslim-women this past week, today is a special hijab version of the roundup.
In other news, Bremen becomes the third German state to recognize Islamic organizations as official religious bodies — meaning that Bremer Muslims can now take ‘Eid off! Muslim students in a Maryland high school can now pray during class time — but only if their grades are good. And while it was feared that extremists destroyed priceless manuscripts in Timbuktu, the bulk of the collection was saved, by fabulous superheros in the guise of mild and meek librarians.
Today’s lesson: Don’t mess with people who command Silence in the Library and smash metadata for fun.
1) So another World Hijab Day has come and gone.
Some marked this social experiment by wearing a special designer, invisible scarf known as the NoHijabHijab,™ some marked it by wearing their touques, Tilleys or sun hats, and some marked it by joining a relatively safe and supportive community environment to see what it feels like to be a “veiled” Muslim woman for eight hours in a relatively safe and supportive community environment. You know, without the hangups of praying, fasting, giving zakat, being discriminated against for having a Muslim sounding name, community racial microaggressions and invalidations based on gender, being overlooked for education/employment/marriage/social mobility because of hijab, or experiencing all sorts of gender and religious based injustice…
This exercise reduces a Muslim woman to one yard of material. It is not an action that one can adequately educate and put another woman in their position. It’s completely disingenuous to think so.
Will having my teammates wear a hijab for a one hour match allow them to understand a lifetime of stares, barriers, “No, sorry you can’t play with that on” decisions, struggles and then my own strength and confidence to embrace it and keep going?
No. No, it won’t.
Just like wearing a hijab for one day will not provide a woman with contextual understanding of challenges and the realities that a woman in hijab may face: misogyny, cultural stresses, financial problems, prejudice, racism and even effects of war.
WHD was created to fight hijab stereotypes by inviting non-Muslim women to try it for a day. Al-Jazeera has a summary of the myriad reactions to the event — everything from, “yay, we all love and understand each other” to “boo, this sucks” to “taking the hijab off the next day defeats the purpose of hijab.”
The BBC used the day as an opportunity to use their horrid “Muslim Headscarves” infographic, and concludes their coverage by saying, “the day is about showing the world that women can choose the hijab willingly.” Making it more difficult to be critical of places where women can’t.
And now, a music video about Class Tourism.
2) This entry should really be in the above piece, but it was too delicious not to give it a seperate honour.
For WHD, the HuffPo published some full on hijab tourism with Natasha Scripture’s investigative journalist fray into a wild and wonderfully desexualizing eight hours of hijab:
So, one morning, after carefully tucking my stray hairs under a plain black headscarf, tightly wrapped around my face (traditional Sunni-style, with my face visible), I looked at myself closely in the mirror. Who is this person? With my long hair concealed, I immediately felt that my face was unequivocally defined by my eyes and that even the faintest shift in my facial expression would be detectable by the least discerning of observers. Most strikingly, I felt instantly de-sexualized. It was as if putting on the veil had melted away my sexuality, and I was left with just me.
Yeah. Because “veiled” Muslim women have absolutely ZERO sexuality. None. Nadda. But oh man, wait until that stuff comes off. Then BAM!
I went to meet a girlfriend at a crowded Thai restaurant for lunch where I was absolutely stunned by the transformation in myself, more so than the way people were treating me. As ridiculous as it sounds, I felt myself becoming more demure, which is not my personality at all. As a journalist at heart, I’m naturally adventurous, even flirtatious, so it was strange to feel this wave of shyness creep over me. I think I became that way because the strangers surrounding me — the server, the hostess, the patrons — expected me to be that way.
Demure Muslim women in hijab isn’t a stereotype at all. Now, why would one’s personality change? Because the hijab has the power to remove one’s sense of self? Yeah, I put it on and wonder where I’ve disappeared to. It’s my invisibility cloak.
Anyway, the piece goes on to talk about how she ended up finally herself again after trying to flirt with a guy over a beer. That’s when she ripped off her hijab and let her hair fly free.
Like a bird.
3) Hijab rapid-fire:
- We all know that tabloid media love, love, love-love-LOVE pictures of white women in hijab. The Sun has yet another, “meet real LIVE Britons who have converted to Islam” exposé. With before and after hijab pictures of course.
- It’s almost Fashion Week in New York! This means that the Muslim modelling company “Underwraps” is making headlines again. With some really lovely fashion pics!
- More on the fashion front, a Chicago human rights attorney launches a hijab design contest to encourage people to come up with a “truly American hijab style.”
- Female lawyers in Turkey have won the right to wear hijab in court.
- And Morocco’s only female Minister claims that wearing hijab has made her a media target, attempting to discredit her by publishing false information.
4) And finally, it’s the hijab tutorial to end all hijab tutorials. A must watch for anyone telling you how you should cover (and it’s by a Canadian to boot):
**And a hat tip to the always lovely Krista Riley for inspiring “invisible hijab.”