Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

The woman who can get by without her looks

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    The woman who can get by without her looks

    The woman who can get by without her looks

    It is late in the afternoon at the University of British Columbia and I have been cooped up in this library for hours, trying to compose a thesis for my American Literature term paper. Deciding that a break would help clear my thoughts, I leave the confines of the library to sit outside, only to hear a female voice come up from behind me to ask:
    "Just how is it that you can live with yourself from day to day wearing that THING on your head and letting THEM control your life?"
    Granted, it is an original line, a creative way to break the ice, yet why the code words? Only because I've been yelled at in public before for reasons connected to my appearance do I know what this woman means.
    Code word # 1: "head thing"= 30inch X 30inch yellow and maroon flower patterned polyester blend, a piece of cloth I happen to be wearing to cover my head and neck;
    Code word #2: "them"= all Muslim men who, sinister-like with their dark beards, heavy accents, and hidden Uzi's get a rush out of making women their life-long slaves.
    Having deciphered all this quickly, I turn to face the stranger- a cross looking thing - I smile politely and signal to the empty chair beside me:
    "Would you like to have a seat?"
    HIJAB, the head to ankle covering that leaves only the face, hands and feet visible in public, has made me a very patient Muslim woman. The brave individuals who have mustered the courage to verbally express their opinions about my scarf haven't been the most trying. There are many who can't formulate words coherent enough to communicate their disapproval, and so, rely on simple gestures and sign language. Walking through downtown Vancouver, I've been fingered, spat on, scowled and cursed at.
    Stepping into an elevator, I once traumatized a man who could do nothing but shuffle into the corner of the empty lift and mutter "What the ----? WHAT THE ----?!?!?!?!" I have to take the agitation, the horror, and even the hatred in a stride.
    But never will I be silent about it.
    I can ignore the flagrant distortions no more than I can deny the fact that I am a Muslim living in Canada. Who I am and what popular culture thinks I am, has become a tug-of-war-competition of who can explain the status of the Muslim hijab-wearer convincingly. The media tells the public that I am a weak freak of nature who has been forced to subject herself to the tyranny of Muslim fundamentalists. Catherine Meckes assesses that wearing hijab is "some kind of twisted logic" because it entraps women like animals in a cage.
    The Muslim dress code, she argues, is a form of hiding from society so that I don't have to deal with the realities of my "natural habitat." Ms. Meckes seems to be familiar enough with the Western culture to know that women are constantly objectified, used as commodities, tools to sell beer and boost sales for the next football season. Sadly enough, though, she views women who wish to distance themselves from this commercial degradation with fear.
    She finds women who cover "disturbing" and wished that she didn't have to confront them on their "home turf."
    Pardon my feeble-mindedness, I've pinned my scarf on too tight and squeezed reason out of my brain....just WHO is running away from the truth? I have chosen to set myself apart from millions of Canadians, placed myself in the way of ridicule by a society that demands women to conform to certain ideals,I have refused to hide in the crowded university hallways and malls by looking the way Cindy, Cosmo, or Calvin Klein think I should - all because I'm a spineless caged rodent?!?!
    I have rejected the hip-hugging jeans, the breast-enhancing halter tops, the poofy hair and made-up face, and accepted hijab so that I can be appreciated for my intellect and personality rather than my figure or fashion sense. When I face a classmate or colleague I can be confident that my body is not being scrutinized, my bra-strap or pantyline visible. I have repudiated the perverted values of our society by choosing to assert myself only through my mind. I understand my "natural habitat" ! very well thank you.
    I fully comprehend the distorted image of the "ideal woman," but the difference between me and the Catherine Meckes's of the world is that I am NOT afraid to defy those standards. Islam liberated me from THAT prison.
    Perhaps hijab is so misunderstood because it is prescribed by a religion that makes a bold and shocking statement: Women are precious creatures who have the right to be valued for who they are, and not what they can juggle.
    When I decided to start wearing hijab, my mother pulled me aside and posed this question: "If you found a diamond that was exquisite in every way, would you show it to all your friends, let them gawk at its dazzle, caress it, or would you covet the stone and protect it by preserving its natural splendor?"
    Once you bear something for all to see, the second you display something for its beauty, you objectify it and diminish its value. Because its worth is built on its ability to attract, when it no longer elicits awe from onlookers it becomes worthless. Is it a wonder that neck lines keep plunging every year?- more cleavage means women won't bore oglers, the commercial industries, and the rest of society for awhile. But when will those skirts quit shortening?? For how long will women remain sex objects??
    Islam tells us that every woman is a jewel and when she respects herself enough to preserve her beauty for herself and her loved ones, she rejects being objectified by a society which does NOT value her.
    Only the dearest people in my life know me without hijab because they love me enough to value ALL of me. John and Jane Doe don't love me or care for me, so why must I meet their notions of an "ideal woman" if they are meaningless to me?
    It is the desire to please popular culture that makes 15 year old girls want to fit into Kate Moss's jeans by sticking their fingers down their throats and wretching (throwing up) three times a day. It is the unattainable Perfect-Body society has conjured, that make "fat", "ugly" girls splatter themselves on sidewalks because they just are "not thin and pretty enough". AND THEY TELL ME ISLAM OPPRESSES WOMEN??
    I am thankful that I am not suicidal or psychologically unbalanced because I can't meet the demands of my culture. I am fortunate that my concerns and goals in life lie on a higher plane than the dictates of a pretty fashion industry. I am quite content with my religion, for it values my power to achieve great things through my mind, not through my body.
    Whether I am physically beautiful or not, you have no clue. Perhaps this fact is disturbing for Catherine Meckes and the library stranger because they are not ready to meet a woman who can get by without her looks. Then again, perhaps it is because they are just ignorant of the (WHAT IS IT?) facts. Either way, I don't need anyone's sympathy, I am not really that scary, and your anger does me no harm.
    I am not under duress, or a male-worshipping female captive from the barbarous Arabian deserts.
    I'VE BEEN LIBERATED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    #2
    Did you write this? Its very well written. Thumbs up.

    Comment


      #3
      recieved this in mail today from a friend

      OH NON-MUSLIM WOMAN


      When you look at me
      All that you can see
      is the scarf that covers my hair
      My words you can't hear
      Because you're too full of fear,
      Mouth gaping, all you do is stare
      You think it's not my choice
      In your own "liberation' rejoice.

      You think I'm uneducated,
      trapped, oppressed and subjugated,
      You're so thankful that you're free.
      But non-Muslim woman you've got it wrong
      You're the weak and I'm the strong
      For I've rejected the trap of man.
      Fancy clothes-low neck, short skirt
      those are devices for pain and hurt.
      I'm not falling for that little plan.
      I'm a person with ideas and thought.
      I'm not for sale, I can't be bought.
      I'm me - not a fancy toy.
      I won't decorate anyone's arm,
      nor be promoted for my charm.
      There is more to be than playing coy.
      Living life as a balancing game - mother,
      daughter, wife, nurse, cleaner, cook, lover
      and still bring home a wage.
      Who thought up this modern "freedom"?
      Where man can love them and man can leave them.
      This is not free, but life in a cage.

      By: A MUSLIM WOMAN

      Comment


        #4
        if it is written by you...than you should publish it in some newspaper..

        Comment


          #5
          not mine

          Comment


            #6
            It is great to see an intelligent, articulate, and vocal muslimah. Very well written.

            HIJAB, the head to ankle covering that leaves only the face, hands and feet visible in public,
            Hijab seems to be a very misunderstood/ poorly defined word at this bulletin board and perhaps in our entire South Asian culture, since its origins are Arabic. You've defined hijab as the head to Ankle covering, in our culture, people seem to equate Hijab with the head scarf. so then what is the scarf called? What about the Jilbab & Abayah? Is the scarf in conjunction with the Jilbab called Hijab? or must a woman wear something on top of her clothes for it to be considered "Hijab", what about modest clothes which hide her figure?

            Comment


              #7
              If the woman's auwrah is head to ankle, are sandles cool with Islaamic guidelines?

              Comment


                #8
                very well written!!

                [This message has been edited by Rehaan (edited April 01, 2002).]

                Comment


                  #9
                  sallam guys
                  sorry to dissappoint you guys but no i did not write it, it was an article by a canadian student that someone sent me and i found quite touching, as for sandals there are many schools of thought, some say it is acceptable for women to bare their feet whilst others say that it is an attraction within itself, personally i think it is a choice left to the individual, we as muslims were blessed with free-will by Allah, we should use it well and wisely.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Xara:
                    sorry to dissappoint you guys but no i did not write it, it was an article by a canadian student that someone sent me and i found quite touching,
                    I knew it was someone else b/c the author says she's canadian, and you've told us before that you're from the UK.

                    i think it is a choice left to the individual, we as muslims were blessed with free-will by Allah, we should use it well and wisely.
                    Yes, we've been granted free will to choose right from wrong or do the wrong. Just wondering what the Islaamic perspective is.

                    I've never thought anything wrong with sandles but I wore them to my arabic class the other day, dressed in my ankle length, loose fitting skirt, loose fitting top, and a head scarf.

                    I felt weird, almost like it was an oxymoron.


                    I was so covered up and then there were my feet in a pair of attractive sandles, just seemed wrong to me, at least in that setting .

                    [This message has been edited by Muni (edited April 02, 2002).]

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Regardless of who wrote it, it is very well written.
                      I am some what surprised that people would react that way in Vancouver. I lived there for two years, and my husband is from Vancouver. I guess I really didn't get to know a lot of Canadians, but I would have thought they were a little more intellegent than that.
                      I hope that everyone understands that not every one from western countries feels that way. I certainly do not feel that Moselem women are slaves of their husbands. I have and always will think that the way Moselem women dress is a show of respect for themselves and by their husbands. I am of the Christian faith, and I too believe in dressing conservatively. When I go out in public the only part of me to be seen is my hands and face.
                      I just wish that everyone could learn to accept all people for what they are, and not try and make something ugly out of something that is meant to be pure and good.

                      ------------------
                      Brenda McLennan

                      Comment

                      Working...
                      X