I got really upset last night watching The Daily Show. Dalia Mogahed, of The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a "nonprofit think tank which produces research on American Muslims and Muslim communities around the world," said that the Hijab is about "privatizing sexuality." As in - because she wears the hijab, her body, her sexuality, are off-limits to men. And that means that, if a woman doesn't wear a hijab, hey, anything goes! And that's no doubt what the men who attacked women in Cologne during New Year's Eve celebrations this year were thinking.
That's not only an offensive idea for women, it's a sexist idea about men. It's the idea that men are somehow incapable of controlling themselves around women who aren't wearing a hijab, women who are sexualized, that because of how those women are dressed, how they are walking, how much makeup they have on, etc., men just can't control themselves and must go after that sexualized bod. Anyone who claims that has NO scientific biological basis for that claim. Men are just as capable of not acting on a feeling of sexual arousal as women. If a man is incapable of restraining himself when he is feeling sexual arousal for another person in his presence, then he needs to get into therapy, stat.
How a woman is dressed is not an invitation for sex. Not in the USA, not in Germany, not in Afghanistan, not in Saudi Arabia. It's reprehensible to think otherwise.
I have no problem with a woman wearing a hijab, or a chador, if that's what they want to do, and if she is doing it as HER choice - no family members or community forcing her to. I think hijabs can be quite beautiful. I've worn a head scarf when I've been abroad sometimes, not because I had to by any law, but because it was the societal norm, it made me feel more comfortable in that particular society, and because I was trying to convey my respect for the community where I was. I've covered my head in Eastern Orthodox churches and Catholic churches for the same reason. But I wonder: would a Muslim woman who believes that I, a non-Muslim woman, should wear a hijab in those communities for all of the reasons I've stated, herself choose not wear hijab in a community for the same reasons I've given for wearing one - because not wearing one was the society norm, because it would make her feel more comfortable in that particular society, because she wanted to convey her respect for the community where she was?
I am as disturbed by a woman being forced to wear a hijab by others as I am by a woman who really wants to wear it but is afraid to because of reaction in public. If a woman wants to wear a hijab, or even a chador, in the USA, and that's what she really wants to do, I'm absolutely fine with that. I saw a woman wearing a chador at the grocery store where I live, and knowing she was Arabic (I heard her speaking), and probably the only Arabic woman in my community at that moment, I made a point of walking over and speaking to her in my pathetic Arabic. Oh how her eyes lit up, how happy she was. I was greeted like a long lost friend - she took my hands and just kept saying, "Welcome! Welcome!" I almost cried. I want her to feel welcome in my community - I want anyone to, hijab or not.
I don't want any woman wearing any particular type of covering - or not wearing something, including a hijab - because family, friends or society forces them to. I dream of a world wear all women, anywhere, can wear anything they want.
But let's be clear: the idea that a woman who is not wearing a hijab is somehow asking for sexual advances is offensive. The idea that a woman who is wearing a mini skirt is asking for sexual advances is offensive. The idea that a woman wearing a tight shirt is asking for sexual advances is offensive. Is this is me wanting an idea of the West to be adopted by the world, then, okay, yes, that's what I'm doing.
I am NOT sexualized because I don't wear a hijab. A pox on Trevor Noah for not challenging Dalia Mogahed on that point.