Niqab - choice vs conformity
When it comes to attire, women and girls face a unique dilemma – to either conform or not conform to modesty – and that is all the choices we are “granted”.
As you can see in the image above, there are 5 different ways a Muslim woman or girl can conform to modesty. The attire in a heated debate in Canada is the “Niqab” that leaves only the eyes exposed to keep modesty glaringly obvious.
Yes – women must have the right to choose whether they want to wear any brand of attire that will reduce them to an object of modesty – no person has the right to deny her that right.
Is it always a choice though? No – in fact, it’s rarely a choice. Practicing a “choice” is having the ability to assess the level of comfort in something through own experience or approval – but where is that ability when a female child is dictated from infancy to adulthood about the “necessity” of female modesty, especially when it’s defined as a divine law of prevention to tackle sexual violence – a claim that is dangerously contrary to the rate of sexual violence faced by women and girls in Islamic nations.
In countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, wearing these attire that confirm female modesty is mandatory – not a choice. In any country where Sharia is heavily enforced – it’s always an obligation to wear them, even where it’s not mandatory – but choosing to not wear them comes at a great price of being ostracized by family and society. Islamic nations are infamous for charging women and girls with “moral crimes” after being sexually assaulted or fleeing forced marriage – and in such countries, where is the “choice” to not wear them? They are already guilty of “indecency” for being a victim of sexual violence and/or harassment – so what terror do these female populations face when they refuse to wear clothing romanticized under the fallacy of preserving modesty and honour?
Has Canada already forgotten Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons? How can the trauma created by a culture of shaming female bodies and sexuality that claimed the lives of these two young girls have been so easily forgotten? It nauseates me that the same sentiment that triggered mass bullying of these girls is being defended in the name of tolerating Middle Eastern attire that commit the same offence of shaming female body/sexuality. Todd was bullied over a topless photo and deemed too “indecent” to live with dignity. Parsons was gang raped, photographed during the rape and then slut-shamed and was also deemed too “indecent” to live with dignity. The two girls committed suicide as a result – and yet, Canadian pseudo liberalism defends the niqab that denies dignity to women and girls everywhere.
So when it comes to “choice” to “dress modestly” – it’s hardly a choice if it’s based on some irrational fear of humiliation of one’s own sexuality and/or body.
The multiplicity of labels that assault the identity of women and girls are endless – if they use their intelligence, they are a “bitch”. If they are in a bikini – they are “slutty” and “rapeable”. If they dress loosely, they are “too masculine” and must be a “dyke”. If they wear makeup or fancy clothes, they are trying to “impress other people”, so of course they are “asking for it”. If they are dressed in a hijab, burqa or niqab, they are surely fun targets to rape or harass because they won’t even report it due to how precious modesty is to them. When the f*** are we not objectified and dehumanized – whether in a bikini or an abaya? The common denominator is “modesty” and the fetishization of it that diminishes the humanity of women and girls to that of objects of someone else’s pleasure or amusement.
Pseudo feminism in the west has too much cultural and religious ignorance that grants them affinity towards sexism and misogyny in non-western cultures/religions in the race to appear friendly towards multiculturalism – which has continued to lower the standard of human rights for women and girls of colour who live in both eastern and western nations. And what’s even more appalling is how leftists are using Prime Minister Harper’s rejection of the niqab as an opportunity to score political points against the conservatives. Yes – Harper is an opportunist [just as a great majority of leftists criticizing him] – but his rejection of the niqab is logical and his reputation for being a far-rightist does not in any way absolve the niqab of its imposition of gender-segregation and sexism.
My issue is an ethical one – either you uphold human rights by ridding society of abuse or you can pretend to be morally superior and continue to restrict the liberty of women and girls by selling the illusion that the subjugation of them as objects of modesty is a “choice”. But when you have the audacity to label that “feminism”—you repel me. It’s unforgivable when society easily embraces patriarchal values and cripple the feminist movement [that works to abolish sexism, regardless of people’s gender] and frill such garbage as “equality”.
Women and girls’ rights hang in a perilous realm of exploitation without ever a chance for independent choice free of shame, fear and manipulation for as long as our identities are denied.
We do not live in a post misogynistic/sexist era – so the claim that it empowers women and girls to “choose” niqab to express modesty is logically impossible. Even the statement of “being modest” is a declaration of embracing objectification of our bodies. How is a woman or girl exposing more skin than a woman in a niqab lacking modesty? The assertion of “being indecent” through a lack of clothing is an assault on every women and girls’ dignity.
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