Why I hate the hijab

by Yule Heibel on September 4, 2004

Warning: This is a rant — one which I rather hoped to put off writing because I knew I couldn’t sound “fair and balanced” about the subject. I was finally prodded into writing it after seeing Dave Pollard’s entry, Veil of Truth. I wondered, To comment or not to comment on Dave’s entry? If you’re a reasonably regular visitor to this site, you know that I’ve hardly posted in the last few weeks (months!?), and I’ve been reading other blogs even less. So why get excited about a completely random read on an old favourite?

Well, the whole issue of working the female body — through tattooing, cutting, fashion, hair removal, hair augmentation, making visible, making invisible, big tits, little tits, etc. etc. — this issue of working the female body as a marker in patriarchal society pushes my buttons. It pushes my buttons because I have experienced (sexual) abuse, harassment, prejudice, several attempted rapes, and many slurs and slanders. Those are the things I can quantify and name — I won’t even go into the things I can’t quantify, such as the more subtle sexual harassments that a graduate student receives at the hands of a male professor, or the subtle ways that a junior professor is put on the back burner if she’s female and a candidate for breeding, not tenure, or how a daughter is expected to grow up to become invisible.

My rant is provoked by the hijab and France’s ban on wearing it in public schools. I hate the hijab. I hate the idea of putting the onus for men’s sexual predation on the bodies of women. I applaud France’s stand in banning the hijab from public schools, even though it’s a clumsy way of taking a stand. The statements by some Islamic organisations condemning the hostage taking appear to be hypocritical, motivated by wanting to curry favour with France. When Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni was killed last week in Iraq, no Islamic group raised a voice in opposition. But now we have French journalists in danger, and France historically has a strong position in the Arab world, hence the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is speaking out, as is Al Jazeera, and others. But remember, as the Neue Z


Doug Alder September 4, 2004 at 1:16 pm

Well said Yule and good research. I always thought the hijab was historical and you’ve shown it is not and by doing so have rightly removed it from the context of religious freedom.

Mike Golby September 5, 2004 at 4:56 pm

Yup, much is made of the ban which, I believe, pertains only to schools. Yet I’ve heard no outcry over the ban on my daughter wearing nose and ear studs, dying her hair red, or wearing makeup to school. Where are these people? I want to hear from them. These things are perhaps more important to my daughter and have as much religious meaning to her culture as the hijab does to Islam.

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