Freedom in Modesty

In my latest WIP, Pussycat Death Squad, my heroine is Muslimah. When she’s not in uniform, she wears a hijab and dresses modestly. I’ve been doing a lot of research in developing the character. One blogger commented that wearing the hijab is actually liberating. After all, where’s the freedom in being naked? (naked=dressed immodestly). Men want to see you naked. But if you’re covered, you control who gets to see your body, and who you will be sexual with. I thought this was an interesting point. We tend to think of Muslim women as oppressed because they wear the hijab and/or burqa, but are we actually the oppressed ones because anyone can see and sexualize us at will? What do you think?

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9 thoughts on “Freedom in Modesty

  1. Unfortunately being fully covered does not stop men from sexually harassing you. I’ve heard Egypt is notorious for street harassing women no matter how modestly they are dressed. Although in such hostile situations one might take consolation in them not seeing your body.

  2. I’m sure that’s true Lola. I guess the original bloggers point is the one you made at the end. I think we all know that there will always be men who will sexually harass you, but at the very least you have control over who you share your body with. No one can receive sexual pleasure from looking at your body if they can’t see your body. It’s much like what I was talking about in the School Girl post. The girls were dressed perfectly modestly, but because of the way the concept of the ‘school girl’ has been sexualized, just their mere presence turned into something sexual.

  3. She might have a point. I’d probably be enamoured but I live in a city, and I’ve tried running in a burqua (don’t ask) it doesn’t work.

  4. This is an interesting post. My sister-in-law is Muslimah and wears her hijab daily. She also has told family members that she feels happy wearing it as well. I’ve also heard this same thing from my Muslimah friends over the years too. They all said it makes their lives easier so they can focus on their work and/or school in particular when they are in the presence of men.

  5. I think the most important thing to remember is that these women CHOOSE to wear hijab. It’s not something that will get them stoned to death if they decided they wanted to go without. The only Afghani female I met while in Afghanistan was harassed by Afghani men because although she had her hair covered, the men could still see her hair peeking out from under her head covering.

    I own three burqas. I don’t find burqas liberating at all.

  6. Oh, definitely I agree. I don’t think there’s freedom in anything you’re forced to do. Plus, I’m not confident that burqas aren’t over the top, but then I’m not Muslimah, so what do I know.

  7. Burqas are way over the top if you ask me. It’s hard to see through them and the length of the cloth makes them a safety issue. I don’t even want to go into the psychological issues behind the burqa and how burqas are really designed to make women invisible members of society.

    I’ve heard stories of women walking around in burqas in Michigan. Let me see it with my own eyes and I’ll be petitioning to have burqas banned in the U.S. Religious beliefs me arse! That’s Islam extremism. If they “want” to walk around in burqas, then burqa-wearing Muslimahs need to take that crap back to what ever country they came from. Afghanistan is looking for people to repopulate the country and most of the women there still wear burqas.

  8. Shavonne, we have something in this country called freedom of religion. As long as these women are choosing to wear burqas I’ll fight to the death for their right to do so. I’m not particularly religious, but I know that when we start chipping away at the rights of some it’s really an erosion of all our rights. We live or die by the Constitution in this country. We’ve already had nearly a decade of loss of our civil rights. I’ll never be in favor of anything that further undermines it.

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