1-We have a lot to flaunt
Despite what right wing extremists like Jean-Marie Le Pen may think, hijabis (women who wear the headscarf) are no different to their ‘unveiled’ sisters. So, in case you were wondering, yes, we have assets too-plenty of them. In fact, we’re bloody gorgeous. But if it makes you feel any better Mr Le Pen, we’re all bald and ugly under our baggy clothes and scarves.
2-But we’re not your eye candy.
In this ‘if you have it, flaunt it world’, one might find it confusing why some women choose to cover their bodies. This is especially strange because everything in this day and age is put on display publicly. Regardless of the religious aspects of wearing the hijab, people need to understand one crucial point: not all women feel comfortable displaying their beauty. Not all women feel comfortable with their bodies being part of the public realm. Some women prefer to keep their bodies private, to be seen only by those they feel comfortable with. The hijab is liberating because it gives you that freedom- you see the parts of me that I want you to see. If that means you see nothing, that’s my choice not yours.
3-We don’t need saving.
Please don’t insult our intelligence by thinking that we’re somehow these poor brainwashed women crushed under the weight of patriarchy and religion . We’re not damsels in distress and you’re not our hero. Yes I’m looking at you Mr Manuel Valls.
4-We love our bodies
We don’t cover because we’re ashamed of our bodies. Far from it, we love our bodies, and only ashamed of those who have transformed the female body into an object created for the consumption of men.
5-Burkinis are for beaches not to hide bombs
Anyone who knows anything about Islamic fundamentalism will know that the likes of Isis are against burkinis. Islamists don’t want women swimming around on a mixed gendered beach wearing a wet-suit like swimming costume. The problem with fundamentalist secular politicians, such as those we’ve seen in France, is that they try to fight the ignorance of the Islamists by putting forward a secular version of that ignorance. Politicians like this know nothing about their enemies and make enemies out of their own people and friends. The victims of these two forms of ignorance are always innocent, moderate Muslim women, who always suffer the backlash against Muslims.
6-One size does not fit all
There are many different types of hijabis. This is an important point because even Muslim women make the mistake of thinking that there is only one true type of hijab. Muslim women who wear headscarves have the right to wear it to level that suits them without being judged by other women. People forget that in the same way that you have different kinds of Christians- Catholics, Orthodox; as well as the various denominations of Protestantism; Islam also has different sects and ideologies. Muslims judge one another forgetting this simple truth and non-Muslims ask us to bare the sins of other Muslims who have very different ideologies to us. Would you attack an Anglican for something a Catholic did across the world? It’s ludicrous. Isis follow a minority sect called Wahhabism. This sect does not represent the rest of us. So please don’t ask us to apologize for the sins of these fanatics. We follow different scholars, ideologies and books and have no connection to them.
7-We fight against the media by overcompensating
A Muslim man can easily blend in, but a hijabi is an unmistakable representative of Islam. This is often a heavy burden to bare and pushes us to overcompensate for the negative media portrayal of us. We like to smile a lot at you and offer our seats. It’s not fair that we’ve become the targets of everyone’s anger and frustration at the security situation in Europe. But we’re strong and will hold onto our principles despite this.
8-The battle for female freedom and equality does not begin in my wardrobe
What the recent drama over the burkini highlights, is that men on either spectrum of religious fanaticism and secular fanaticism are obsessed with the female body. Please, get out of our wardrobes, and if you truly care about female emancipation why not focus on things like equal pay- which is, believe it or not, still an issue during this day and age.