Nadia El-Awady, who you’ll recall as a science writer in Egypt who helped chronicle the revolution from Tahrir Square (she’s also organizing this year’s World Conference of Science Journalists in Doha), tried an experiment:

I experimented last week. I took off my hijab – the headscarf many Muslim women wear to cover their hair.

I have been wearing a headscarf when I leave the privacy of my home for 25 years, since I was 17. That’s a long long time in human years.

I took my hijab off during a recent trip to Europe. I wanted to know what it would feel like. I wanted to know how people’s perceptions of me would change and how my perception of myself would change. …

I went to the breakfast hall and immediately felt that I was invisible. I had become accustomed to being noticed – just ever so slightly – as a woman wearing hijab in Europe. It was usually more evident in the breakfast hall in hotels: a woman wearing the hijab, walking into the restaurant all alone. It’s not all that common as you can imagine. For the first time in my traveling years, I wasn’t noticed. And I IMMEDIATELY missed the attention. I was a bit hurt, I must admit. …

It really was an interesting experience. When I started comparing how I thought I was perceived without the hijab and how I thought I was perceived with it, I truly could not find any significant difference. That completely shocked me. Apart from that one feeling of relative invisibility and lack of attention at the hotel breakfast hall, I was pretty much invisible no matter what I wore when I went out. I even tried wearing a short dress and heels. Nothing.

No matter what I wore, there were still the rude people, the nice people, and the we-could-care-less people. …

Two things did happen as I walked around these two European cities without the head scarf. But they were internal.

I felt that a Nadia I had known years ago reappeared. It was high school Nadia. Nadia before the hijab. It wasn’t that I had felt young again. It was more like I had figuratively peeled away some layers to bring back a person I was many many years ago. It was refreshing.

I also felt more feminine than I believe I’ve ever felt in my life. I felt more of a woman. Not that people reacted to me as more of a woman. But that I internally felt more feminine. It was exciting.

There’s more, and I encourage you to read it over at her place. It’s a fascinating and personal exploration of the reasons why women take the hijab off, but also the reasons why they put it (back) on.

Comments

  1. #1 howard.peirce
    May 31, 2011

    Amazing story. Thanks for sharing. Oddly, it reminded me of a recent situation I was in where I saw a South Asian woman wearing salwar kameez while enjoying a glass of wine. The incongruity led to a delightful conversation with her and her husband about being a global, secular person while still being connected to local culture and traditions.

    There’s a whole lotta smart, secular people in the world, who “think globally and act locally,” and they aren’t all Westerners.

  2. #2 Nazanin
    May 31, 2011

    I really enjoy white western men whose white guilt prevents them from thinking critically about female apartheid in the muslim world.

    Hijab isn’t some quaint local custom, like the running of the bulls in spain, it is the idea that women should be either entirely or partly invisible and hampered by a restrictive dress code. It is the idea that all men are rapists who can’t control themselves if they see women, that men own women who should only be seen by their husbands and relatives. It was a truly amazing event for me when I escaped to the West only to find Western liberals seeing hijab as this multicultural treasure, I was so disgusted. Women are brainwashed from birth to accept it, and many never can break those mental chains.

    In Iran, I had no option but to wear hijab. It was cover up and be partly invisible or jail.

  3. #3 scott
    June 1, 2011

    Nazanin:
    “It was a truly amazing event for me when I escaped to the West only to find Western liberals seeing hijab as this multicultural treasure, I was so disgusted.”

    I’m with you Nazanin. I’m a liberal, and after studying Islam and recognizing the oppression of women and other religiously inspired human rights violations that I thought would make anyone’s moral compass start to spin, I was having a conversation with a liberal friend about it and how awful it was, I was expecting him to feel the same way as I did about it. And then I got blindsided by his insistence that it was their culture and that made it okay and I was wrong for questioning it.

    The same thing happens on this blog and others sometimes, I’ve been called a bigot, racist, and islamaphobe when questioning Islam and the many horrible practices it condones. Some of the practices are directly attributed to the Quran while others have been hijacked from once upon a time cultural norms and twisted into and kept alive only in the fabric of Islamic faith.

  4. #4 lotharloo
    June 1, 2011

    I agree with Nazanin. Before anyone jumps in to say that these women choose to wear it, consider this: there are women who actively fight against women´s rights and they also do it by chose. The point is that nobody wishes to force the muslim women to abandon hijab but rather, to allow them grow up in an environment where they are not brainwashed or threatened to become a second or third class citizen.

  5. #5 Ashley Moore
    June 1, 2011

    @4 lotharloo.

    There are actually laws that do force muslim women to not wear hijab. And many other people would like to introduce such laws in countries where they do not exist.

  6. #6 modestgrrl
    June 1, 2011

    The ethnocentrism is THROUGH THE ROOF in the comments. Good job, Team USA!

  7. #7 Frank
    June 3, 2011

    Hijab does not equal Islam. For example, Senegal is around 90% Muslim, but women wear their hair uncovered, or an African headscarf which does not cover all the hair.

  8. #8 julian
    June 3, 2011

    Jesus Christ, you all read that and honestly felt it was uplifting? All that piece did was reinforce (at least to me) that there are no Muslim feminists.

  9. #9 Sara
    June 4, 2011

    Nazanin, I completely disagree with you. While your personal opinions about hijab are your right to have, how can you possibly be so simple-minded to really believe that all of us who wear it and hold it dear are brainwashed? I was born and raised in the U.S. so it was never forced on me–not by my country, not by my family, not by my religious community. Hijab is a huge part of my religious identity and it is NOT worn because men can’t control themselves. I wear it for God, not for anyone else. Why do you wear any clothes at all? Do you dress the way you do because men can’t control themselves? You see, there is no universal standard of modesty. Different cultures have different notions of what it means to dress modestly, and while these standards may be different, we shouldn’t judge each other by them. Yes, in some countries hijab is mandatory. I’m not saying that’s good or bad but you must consider that in the US men and women have different dress codes as well. If I were a guy and wanted to go outside without a shirt it would be fine, but as a woman if I did that I’d be arrested and charged with indecent exposure. There are actually protests held concerning this inequality every year in the U.S. Now, is that fair? Depends on how you look at it. Consider also that in some parts of the world it is entirely ok for women to walk around topless–and I’m not placing any kind of moral judgement on these societies because I understand that different standards of modesty exist throughout the world. I don’t think that I should have to cater to someone else’s standard. My decision to wear hijab comes from a great deal of thought, theological research, and personal conviction so your assumption that I’m “brainwashed” is both offensive and ignorant. You have every right not to wear it, I don’t really care what you wear, but you have NO right to judge my decision to wear hijab. I hope you can all see past your ethnocentric biases or personal prejudices to understand that it really is offensive for you to dump your own perceptions about hijab onto an entire community of people around the world for whom it is very sacred.

    peace.

  10. #10 julian
    June 4, 2011

    “I wear it for God and no one else.”

    Then your God is a controlling schmuck and you should find another one.

    This is why religion is so damaging to soceity, it sets up any evil or injustice to be perfectly justifiable to the wrong doer and the victim.

    Sara, you claim no one forced or coerced you into wearing the head scarf (because the US is such an incredibly secular nation the sway of religion is hardly felt) but how can you say that when it’s what you yourself admit is mandated by your religion? This wasn’t something you decided to wear just cuz or because it framed your head nice. You interpreted your God as demanding it.

    Modesty? This sounds. Like the gibberish used to force women to live a certain way. Forgive me but after reading the Count of Monte Cristo and seeing Dumas’ facsination with women who look like weeping willows I’ll pass.

  11. #11 TylerD
    June 4, 2011

    All I got from the excerpted text was that the woman writing it is a gigantic attention whore, which, if representative of Muslim women, would make them not much different from women in general. Hardly a surprising observation.

  12. #12 Anthony McCarthy
    June 4, 2011

    Got that, Sara, Julian knows what you should wear better than you do. By his own statement, he’s a controlling schmuck, you are not to wear what you choose to wear.

  13. #13 julian
    June 4, 2011

    Mr. McCarthy, how can you, as a feminist (forgive me if I’m remembering you wrong) look at both Sara’s rationalization and that of Nadia El-Awady with approval?

  14. #14 julian
    June 4, 2011

    @Tyler

    She isn’t an attention whore but you might be a twit for that comment. Hard to tell.

  15. #15 TylerD
    June 4, 2011

    *grabs popcorn and waits for more white-knighting to commence*

  16. #16 Anthony McCarthy
    June 4, 2011

    Sara is an adult and an adult gets to make her own decisions about what she wears without consulting you or me.

    This reminds me ever so much of the scene in the old Dr. Who show “Robot” when the guy checking credentials at the door of the crypto-fascist science club questions Sarah Jane about the suitability of her outfit. When she says that’s for her to decide the little twit says “For the time being”.

    How about makeup that spreads eye and other infections? High heels, the Western form of foot binding. How about girdles that ruin the muscle tone of the person wearing it. You going to go give the Westerners who wear those a piece of your small mind?

  17. #17 julian
    June 5, 2011

    I take from your examples of Western sexism in how it requires women to dress you not only see the sexism in how Islam requires women to dress you consider it harmful.

    Had Sara said this is between me and my husband would you be so eager to console her and say she made the right decision? I think your God has compromised your integrity, Mr. McCarthy. He’s made you made you an apologist for an overtly sexist culture.

  18. #18 julian
    June 5, 2011

    Tyler go back to /b/. I don’t have the patience to deal with you and McCarthy.

  19. #19 Emma
    June 5, 2011

    Hi Josh

    You’ve probably seen it already, but if not, Leila Ahmed’s latest book ‘The Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence from the Middle East to America’ might be of interest. In it she argues that in some instances, wearing the hijab helps women to subvert other conventions. Ahmed argues that wearing the veil can be a way of negotiating more freedom within the context of say, family or societal expectations. Her research is focused mainly on Egypt rather than say the US, but makes some interesting points.

  20. #20 Anthony McCarthy
    June 5, 2011

    Julian, Barcelona is not an Islamic country, you did read the article, did you not? How about this part:

    I’m back home in Cairo, wearing my hijab. I don’t feel regret for having experimented. And I don’t currently feel like I want to permanently take off my hijab. There are a few reasons I feel that way. I don’t expect people’s reactions to me taking off the hijab in Egypt – people I know – to be positive or supportive or we-could-care-less. There would be lots of drama involved and I don’t know that I’m up for that.There’s also a part of me that still feels that the hijab might be obligatory. Maybe God really does want me to cover up from head to toe. I still need to figure that one out.

    In the meantime, I’m glad to think I have options. It’s exciting to think that I can continue to experiment when I feel like it in the privacy of my own Europe and perhaps even among friends I can trust. And it’s comforting to think I can continue to wear my hijab when I feel that’s more appropriate, whether for me or for the people around me.

    Whatever she decides is her decision. If she feels it’s possible to exercise that right or not might be part of her decision in Egypt but it’s still her right to decide.

    Sara is an adult who gets to decide what she wants to wear. She doesn’t need some guy’s permission to wear hijab if she chooses to. How would you like her getting to decide what you have to wear or not wear?

    I really don’t want you to feel it’s necessary to “deal with me”. I’m quite happy to have us mutually ignore each other. I’ve tried to broker that agreement with one of your colleagues, only to have them unable to do it.

  21. #21 julian
    June 5, 2011

    But we’re not talking about countries, Mr. McCarthy. We’re talking about Sara and Ms. El-Awady’s religion and the culture that’s imposed this dress code them. And, of course, the community Ms. El-Awady (despite her assurances) that excercises enough control over women that even a worldly and well educated woman feels the need to defer to it.

    Btw, I’m glad to see you find others pressuring individuals to conform troubling. Now if only you’d notice I’m not the one doing that we may be able to find some common ground.

  22. #22 Anthony McCarthy
    June 5, 2011

    That’s the difference between us, Julian, I figure both women get to make those decisions for themselves, by themselves and on whatever basis they want to make those decisions within whatever parameters within they live and work or against those. If they want to complain about or protest against whatever pressure to wear hijab they perceive, that is their right as well. Their decisions are their own to make not some guy living somewhere else with no connection to them.

    Assuming you’re the North American or European man I suspect you are, why do you think they should listen to you? Who died and made you the Mr. Black of Egyptian dress?

  23. #23 julian
    June 5, 2011

    Mr. McCarthy you are a white male raised and living in New England. You are in no position to play the worldly man. You’ve less credibility in that department then even our wise and so opened minded host.

    “For themselves, by themselves and on whatever basis they want to make those decisions within whatever parameters within they live and work against those.”

    Almost as sad as the quiverfull movement. I guess you see nothing wrong with that, either or feel the women and young girls involved are being taken advantage of.

  24. #24 Anthony McCarthy
    June 5, 2011

    You are in no position to play the worldly man. Julian

    Playing the worldly man? Saying that a woman gets to decide what she wears? That a woman born in Egypt or a Muslim and who knows her own mind and the milieu in which she lives has the right to decide whether or not to wear what she chooses to and not some white neo-atheist who figures they are the embodiment of enlightenment? Wow, I guess whoever wrote that Dr. Who episode hit it right on the spot.

    You get that, you are to take your clothing instructions from Julian from now on. Julian KNOWS .

  25. #25 TylerD
    June 5, 2011

    >implying that anyone who cares about this issue isn’t white.

  26. #26 Anthony McCarthy
    June 6, 2011

    TylerD, I cut off Mr. Blackwell in my haste, an infamous fashion bully. Though if I hadn’t been so fast I’d have wondered if Julian would be worldly enough to have known him or even worldly enough to google him if he wasn’t.

  27. #27 julian
    June 6, 2011

    Not that it matters but I’m not white. Couldn’t even pass for it over the phone. Believe it or not there are a lot of atheists who aren’t middle class white western males.

    And when did I say I know? I almost never use that kind of absolute language. That seems to be your style, not mine, Mr. McCarthy. And I have not told anyone how to dress or what not to wear. If I have, please point to it.

    While you’re at it, kindlyy answer the last question I asked you. You are of course under no obligation to do so.

  28. #28 Anthony McCarthy
    June 6, 2011

    A woman is under no obligation to make her decisions on the basis of what any man thinks. If she decides to consult one or more than one, that’s her decision as well.

  29. #29 TTT
    June 6, 2011

    High heels, the Western form of foot binding.

    ‘Cos all those Chinese women could take off their crippled feet at the end of the day and wear a different pair.

  30. #30 Anthony McCarthy
    June 6, 2011

    TTT, someone who has damaged their feet, ankles, back, etc from wearing ridiculous high heels can’t change those by changing shoes. The author of the article seems to have been able to take off hijab and put it back on without suffering any residual physical damage.

    Any woman who might wear hijab is unlikely to be influenced by you and Julian and the rest of the new atheist cult in North America in any way you’d like.

  31. #31 julian
    June 6, 2011

    We are discussing feminism and the affects a patriarchal soceity/religion/culture may have on a woman’s decicion making. Please put women first and leave your agenda at the door.

  32. #32 Anthony McCarthy
    June 6, 2011

    Julian, I’m not qualified to lecture on feminism because I’m the wrong gender. Just as I’m not qualified to lecture grown women one what they should wear. Neither are you.

  33. #33 Lotharloo
    June 7, 2011

    Yes, Sara is an adult and she can choose what to wear. She is free to cover her hair. But we are also free to point out that the concept of “women covering their hair” is literally man-made, i.e., made by one man, prophet Muhammad, so other men could not look at his numerous wives. In other words, the concept exists because the Arab society was (and still is) highly sexist and it was where women were considered to be owned by men (and still it is the same way). Such a concept exists because men decided so. And it is also enforced by men. And it is advertised by men. And it is complemented with a myriad of other sexist rules in Islam, made up by men, to prevent women grab their fair share of society.

    But of course, Sara is free to obey every single one of those disgusting laws.

  34. #34 Anthony McCarthy
    June 7, 2011

    Lotharloo, you forgot an important component in this, that women who live in societies where hijab or other covering is mandatory are in a far better position to understand how the mandatory nature of that could be changed within the context of their societies than new atheist blog boys in the United States or other countries other than those these women live in. Of course, Westerners, not having to live with any of the reaction to women agitating for changes in their countries, are free to safely gas on in any counterproductive way their whim tells them to. Which might gratify their sense of superiority but which changes nothing for the better.

    The French type of ban on covering is another matter entirely, it is the imposition of a dress code on adult women of a specific religious orientation who choose to wear some kind of head covering. And which could be expected to give some women a reason to adopt it.

  35. #35 Laurent Weppe
    June 7, 2011

    we are also free to point out that the concept of “women covering their hair” is literally man-made, i.e., made by one man, prophet Muhammad

    Except that the Veil already existed in Assyria, more than 2.000 years before Muhammad was born, and was meant to represent high social status.
    Except that it also was a custom in Western Europe until the late fifties, a custom that had nothing to do with wathever Muhammad thought or did.
    Are you by any chance a member of the Palin school of thought that claim that freedom of expression includes being allowed to fake erudition?

  36. #36 julian
    June 7, 2011

    @ Laurent

    We’re not talking about veils, platform shoes or designers dresses. We’re talking about the dress code manyy Muslim women feel is mandated by Allah (male) as dictatedby their holy men (obviously male). That other cultures have placed and continue to place such restrictions on women is besides the point.

    And can we stop with this social status? That a sexist practice denotes status or how sacred someoneis in a culture doesn’t make it ok. That. Pedestal is just as bad as a cage.

  37. #37 julian
    June 7, 2011

    @ McCarthy

    So we’re not allowed to point out how these practices are demeaning and sexist? Tell me, if we were in the 1840s right here in the good ole us of a, would you be telling off abolitionists because as I slave I would know best about my situation and risk getting myself. Killed by exposing the ideas of freedom and equality?

    It sounds like you are ignorant of how people in these situations internalize soceity’s views.

  38. #38 Anthony McCarthy
    June 7, 2011

    Julian, I can assure you that someone in North Africa or the Middle-East insultingly deriding Americans over slavery in the 1840s would have had absolutely no influence in ending it. The increasing abolitionist agitation in the North of the United States didn’t have that effect in the slave holding states. Like it or not, the resistance to slavery was largely based in religion, liberal Christianity. John Woolman was likely responsible for convincing more people to release slaves than any anti-religious figures of the time.

    Unless you are proposing to put your body on the line, as women in the Middle East would have to in order to change such a deeply ingrained custom, your words on those customs are entirely impotent. And that might not be enough or counter-productive. The invasion of Iraq, supported by new atheist hero such as Christopher Hitchens and others, has set back womens’ progress in a significant part of the region. Ronald Reagan’s funding of “freedom fighters” in Afghanistan ended up being a disaster for women there, both through the war lords and the Taliban who gained power in the reaction to them and in the present war there. Things in real life are so much more complicated than theorizing a half a world away.

    I’m really a lot more likely to take what Islamic feminists, such as you claim don’t exist, say on this than what a new atheist blog boy says. They’ll know the first and second thing about it. It’s Islamic feminists who are more likely to come up with a real, practical way to further women’s rights and they’re the ones who are going to have to pay whatever price is paid in blood.

  39. #39 julian
    June 7, 2011

    I would remind you again, that I’m not telling anyone what to do. Especially not place themselves in danger (though given the state of women in most of these soceities, I wouldn’t call them safe) or turn their backs on their family. I understand and even sympathize with the need to stay a part of their lives even when they have made their disdain of you known. But someone has to talk about what’s going on. Someone has to point out what’s wrong with a system that almost fetishizes complete subservience.

    And someone has to put the condition of these women before taking political jabs at people he doesn’t like.

  40. #40 Anthony McCarthy
    June 7, 2011

    Julian, why did you go to all that bother mocking and deriding Sara, for whom wearing hijab is a choice? This post and this disagreement between us is exactly about women who choose to wear it, for whom it clearly doesn’t carry the same meaning it does for you or for me. That is their right.

    Your real motive was just another excuse to bash religion, it wouldn’t matter to you which one or what it held.

  41. #41 julian
    June 7, 2011

    When did I mock Sara? When did I speak to her derisively?

    I pointed out the sexist nature of her god. I pointed out how wearing the headscarf is hardlya choice if your family, friends and even God demand you wear it. I alluded to how pedestals like ‘modesty’ do nothing to further the state of women in these soceities. When exactly did I mock Sara, Mr. McCarthy?

  42. #42 Anthony McCarthy
    June 7, 2011

    Julian @ 10

    Then your God is a controlling schmuck and you should find another one.

    Condescending and mocking

    Sara, you claim no one forced or coerced you into wearing the head scarf (because the US is such an incredibly secular nation the sway of religion is hardly felt) but how can you say that when it’s what you yourself admit is mandated by your religion? This wasn’t something you decided to wear just cuz or because it framed your head nice. You interpreted your God as demanding it.

    Condescending, accusing her of not knowing her own motives better than a blog boy who doesn’t know her, accused her of not being able to decide what she believes on a basis other than your own.

    @13
    how can you … look at both Sara’s rationalization and that of Nadia El-Awady with approval?

    Assuming neither was honest about their real motivations, again thinking a blog boy knew better.

  43. #43 julian
    June 7, 2011

    1. Neither mocking or condescending. Someone who would dictate how others are to dress to satisfy some arbitrary standard they created can be accurately called controlling. And someone who mandates everyone bend to his every whim can, as far as I’m concerned, be labelled a schmuck.

    2 & 3. I accept the reasons Ms. El-Awady and Sara give for wearing the hijab. I fully believe that in the case of Sara she’s doing this for her god. And I completely understand why a well educated woman would defer to her family and community over how she should conduct herself especially when she isn’t sure what her god wants. But I’m not going to pretend those aren’t instances of coercion. Not blaming, faulting or condemning either woman. So stop pretending I am.

  44. #44 Nazanin
    June 15, 2011

    As a woman who was forced to wear hijab I continue to be dumbfounded by the rationalizations that liberal Western men who go through to defend it.

    It is objectively sexists as men are not required to cover themselves in the same way.

    It makes women either entirely or partly invisible, it also inhibits your ability to move freely.

    Sure, a sexist religion and culture can brainwash woman from birth to hide themselves only for the men that ‘own’ them. But it should always be criticized as a sexist practice. Western liberals who refuse to do so are be hypocritical, probably because of some dogmatic and narrow interpretation of multicutluralism.

  45. #45 Anthony McCarthy
    June 15, 2011

    Nazanin, you have the right to decide what you’re going to wear, you don’t have the right to decide what other people are going to wear. You doing that would be just as coercive as people who force other people to wear hijab. You don’t get to decide that. Boy-julian certainly doesn’t.

  46. #46 nazanin
    June 15, 2011

    #9

    I was born and raised in the U.S. so it was never forced on me–not by my country, not by my family, not by my religious community. Hijab is a huge part of my religious identity and it is NOT worn because men can’t control themselves.

    Really, have you ever lived in Iran or Saudi Arabia? Hijab is not a legal choice there. In many other Islamic nations that I have lived in or visited, it is not a cultural choice as well. Try and not wear hijab in many places in Pakistan as a Muslim woman, you will be accosted and harassed.

    I wear it for God, not for anyone else. Why do you wear any clothes at all? Do you dress the way you do because men can’t control themselves? You see, there is no universal standard of modesty. Different cultures have different notions of what it means to dress modestly, and while these standards may be different, we shouldn’t judge each other by them.

    I am amazed that this argument isn’t laughed at by everyone else. This is extreme cultural relativism and just a bad argument. First, 99% of the forms of Islam are sexist and advantage to men. Most masjids separate men and women, no women prayer leaders (excepts in a extremely small number of new liberal western ones that are derided by mainstream muslims). The Quran itself is sexist, it teaches that men control women and can even beat their wives (verse 34 of Surah an-Nisa). If you hide yourself for your god from everyone but the men that ‘own’ you, then yours indeed is a worthless god.

    Moreover, hijab may be about ‘modesty’ on the surface, but this is a ‘modesty’ that deprecates women’s freedoms by making them invisible. If it isn’t sexist then why no chador for men? Why can men wear t-shirts and jeans in public throughout the Muslim world, show their hair, move freely in public spaces and not woman? This is a definition of modesty that should offend anyone who puts equality of the genders above superstition and narrow interpretation of liberal multiculturalism.

    Different cultures have different notions of what it means to dress modestly, and while these standards may be different, we shouldn’t judge each other by them. Yes, in some countries hijab is mandatory. I’m not saying that’s good or bad but you must consider that in the US men and women have different dress codes as well.

    Your argument that one should wear hijab or go naked is utterly risible. I can accept that there are social norms of modesty. Can you accept that sometimes social norms are racist or sexist and should be thwarted? For example, apartheid and segregation were also social norms, but these had huge disadvantages to people of color. So does hijab for only one gender and the other Islamic teaching that disadvantage women. Just because these teaching claim a divine aegis while segregation what political does not shield them scrutiny. Remember, that hijab is just a part of the system of Islamic gender apartheid that I and millions of other women had to live under. Most of us could not chose who to marry, we couldn’t live alone, we couldn’t be as free and independent as we are in the West.

    I don’t really care what you wear, but you have NO right to judge my decision to wear hijab.

    Actually, I have every right to judge your decision to wear hijab. As a middle eastern women who suffered gender discrimination under islam, I judge you as someone chooses to naively propagate an ideology that holds hundreds of millions of women as second class. I judge you just as if you said something racist.

    My “ethnocentric biases” are based on actual experience of decades in the islamic world and my “personal prejudices” are far more informed than your one of western privilege. Your ‘theological research’ is utterly meaningless to me as it is the research of an ideology of repression that utter lacks an empirical basis.

    ‘Theological research’ is what the mullahs do in Qom as they’ve destroyed my country in the name of your god. ‘Theological research’ is what the Saudi mufti did when he banned women from driving. I read that during slavery and segregation in the U.S., there were white religious leaders that did ‘theological research’ that said that blacks were inferior. Simply because you cite your religion, this may make the some weak Western men in here bow to you out of political correctness, but your ‘theological research’ that results in a discriminatory system against half the human race disgusts me. One can research sexists surahs and hadiths and derive a sexist result. It is not something that the rest of us should respect if it offends the rights of women.

  47. #47 nazanin
    June 15, 2011

    @Anthony McCarthy

    Yes, but I have the right to call hijab sexist. To tell my experience as a Muslim woman who grew up and suffered under Islamic gender apartheid.

    Anthony, tell me, do you consider yourself a liberal? One who values equality between men and women? Then why openly support a system that is empirically demonstratable to have held hundreds of millions of women down? Is it out of a misguided sense of political correctness?

    Please tell me, where in the Islamic world are women treated as equals to men? They have has over thousand years to do it, and women are still second-class citizens over almost all it.

  48. #48 Nazanin
    September 18, 2011

    anyone who feels that hijab is voluntary for most women in the Islamic world should read this article.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/254618/acid-attacks-7-women-burned-in-two-days/

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