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Thread: Niqab - choice vs conformity !!!

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    Niqab - choice vs conformity !!!

    Niqab - choice vs conformity

    March 15,2015

    Aki Muthali

    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.

    Cont on Page 2....

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    Integrating into Canadian society means your religion has no precedence over that nation’s laws, which means sexism is unacceptable whether religiously or culturally sanctioned. What the niqab demands is gender segregation and prompts “discomfort” around the opposite sex which is discriminatory. Canadian men and boys are being collectively branded “indecent” if they ever glimpse at a niqabi’s face. The casual interference to complicate the fight against sexism and misogyny will not be appreciated by genuine feminists. I will respect your “right” to wear it, but I will not sacrifice my right to call bull**** on your primitive sentiment of gender segregation. Imagine being told you cannot perform your legal duties because you are “male” – how can we achieve equality while tolerating ideological elements that demand sexist accommodation?

    It should be terrifying to the modern civilization when the niqab which is consistent with the abuse of women and girls as properties of their husbands and family is accommodated by violating the rights of others. Canadians too far gone in their western privilege produced hyperbolic conflation of the niqab to turbans, beards, medical masks and exposure of breasts and genitals, etc. – apparently, it makes total sense to assert that the exposure of a female face is equivalent to nudity, growing facial hair and using medical gear to prevent disease and viruses as if our faces are visually sickening. With such shameless stupidity – I feel desperation and horror for those women and girls forced to wear the hijab, niqab or burqa in both Canada and other parts of the world.

    Polygamy is also religious – but remember that it infringes on the dignity of women [and girls] and therefore deemed a violation of human rights whether they enjoy polygamous relationships or not, thus made illegal – yet somehow, the niqab and burqa are still legal under the banner of “choice” – such
    choice can only be described as a dangerous phenomenon resulting from preposterous standards of decency.

    Choosing and conforming are not binary – they do not represent any commonality. One simply cannot be pro-women and girls’ rights and simultaneously pander to modesty that is structural to gender-based discrimination and violence affecting billions of women and girls worldwide. You are either compelled to
    conform to the established patriarchal requirement of female modesty or you can choose to have your own identity – starting with your face.
    What a niqab creates is an environment of isolation – annihilating any sense of integration into any non-Muslim society therefore always feeling disenfranchised. Also, does concealing your face in public create a frenzy of distrust and fear? Yes, it does. Is it because the person is “Muslim”? No – it’s because it’s a stranger who cannot be confirmed and has a mask on like a common criminal in the west.
    Canadian pseudo feminists and liberals have happily shown how obtuse they are when it comes to registering gender segregation of great proportion – so I wish them luck in embracing Middle Eastern misogyny.
    It's dubious that there's a World Hijab Day to romanticize the reduction of women and girls to objects of modesty yet no day to recognize solidarity for thousands of women and girls
    forced to wear a hijab (and niqab or burqa) and often face violence and confinement for rejecting it. Will hijabis and niqabis in Canada [and the rest of the world] who claim to wear them by choice ever remove their hijabs/niqabs to show a day of solidarity for their sisters who are forced to wear them? It’s a choice for you after all and will not result in any injury. I look forward to seeing your support for your fellow Muslim sisters in peril.
    Patriarchy has successfully set an embargo on female liberty by maliciously labeling gender-apartheid “religious” and “cultural” rights – and it seems every clown is ready to tout this bull**** to appear “tolerant”. Embracing the concealment of the female face as “religion” is in correlation to maintaining male egotism in both religious and non-religious worlds of patriarchy. Both Eastern and Western worlds are exploiting women and girls, except they express it with two extreme opposites of modesty – and the admiration both extremes receive is a disturbing trend of human
    nurturing that continues to strip away the dignity of all women and girls.
    I can only hope education and secularism will empower women/girls to embrace independent choices that will not conform them to patriarchy’s will and cooperate with judicial and public processes that require facial verification without the need of gender segregation. Women and girls have come a long way – especially in the Muslim world that is slowly embracing liberty and equality over iron-age practices and deviating course from theocratic oppression to modernization – so I’ll embrace a
    modest smile to that.

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