If I choose to wear a hijab, will you let me?

They call hijabis ‘oppressed’, but aren’t the people judging and mocking her choice the real oppressors?

Saba Khalid September 05, 2012
If feminism did one thing right for women it was to provide us with an abundance of choices. Something the fair gender hadn’t really experienced before. Whether it was the choice to wear pants and throw away those constricting corsets, or the choice to go out and vote and make a difference in the world. We could drive, abort or use contraceptives.

These are the same choices that helped women like you and me get PhDs, work in male-dominated industries and hold top level positions and get equal pay. We could literally be men if we wanted to be!

But if liberties and choices for women were what feminists were fighting for then why are they the first ones to judge, reprimand and rage against the women who choose to don a hijab?

Feminists preach that women must be judged by their mental capabilities and talents and not by their sexuality and physicality. So why do they look down upon a woman who is daring to put that theory into action? In a world that demonises, demoralises and demotes women to mere sexual objects, isn’t wearing a hijab the greatest form of rebellion?

They call hijabis ‘oppressed’, but aren’t the people judging and mocking her choice the real oppressors?

In the same way, women who choose to not wear the hijab are shown the same narrow-mindedness and pettiness when they don’t wear a hijab in a Muslim country like Saudia Arabia or Iran. They are oppressed in the same way with exclusion, torture and even death for that one choice they make.

But aren’t both women only exercising their choices?

Wasn’t the point of the feminist struggle and the resulting empowerment a way to help women exercise their choices? To not be judged?

So in light of Hijab Day, which was September 4 let’s do one small thing from now on. When you see a woman passing by covered from head to toe, show her some compassion and let her exercise that choice. At the same time, when you see a woman wearing something you’d consider skimpy, don’t roll your judgmental eyes at her for she is also only exercising a choice.

Because the point of it all was to not let anyone squander away our choices.

Read more by Saba here.
Saba Khalid A blogger for Rolling Stone magazine, a contributor to Kulturaustauch and Musikexpres, Saba is an Institute for Foreign Affairs (IFA) Cross Culture scholar for the year 2012 who also teaches creative writing to young aspiring writers. She blogs at www.thecityalive.com and can be found on instagram as @thecityalive
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Saif Khan | 11 years ago | Reply Hijab is not practiced in 70% of Pakistan. Its the issue of 30%. I will support my comment that 70% of the population lives in rural where no hijab is practiced as women are engaged in field and many other works more than men. A women in rural cannot perform her work by waering hijab. If you don't agree then visit the rural area in KP, Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, AJK and GB.
TI | 11 years ago | Reply I cannot bring myself to understand the double standards. If a woman wears a hijab (I'm assuming she does so of her own will and without coercion or pressure) then she should be prepared for discrimination when applying for a job or in everyday life, yet if she dresses less conservatively and someone discriminates against her on the basis of her clothing then all hell breaks loose. I agree with those who think it's ridiculous that a woman who doesn't dress according to Islamic principle is termed 'immodest' or disrespected, but it's a two way street. By the same logic I disagree with those who think a woman dressing according to shari'ah is oppressed (unless she is being forced to wear hijab, in which case she is), backward or is somehow inviting discrimination and ridicule. It boils down to live and let live, a principle our society has yet to master.
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