My body, my choice!

My body, my choice!

As a woman, I think I am entitled to the right to dress my body how I want to. I think it is inappropriate for anyone to tell me how to dress ; I’m an adult, I can make my own decisions. Which is why I’m tired, exhausted and drained at the struggle between to different clashes of thought pulling me between them. I get advocated to wear my niqab and hijab once again, to cover a bit more skin, to slip my abaya back on again. I reject these principles on the simple fact : I don’t want to. The tables have turned, I am suddenly inundated with ‘advice’ to expose a bit more of myself, to wear short skirts, bikinis, even to go fully nude, none of these I’m comfortable with. I repeat again, I do not want to. I am comfortable in my current clothes. Suddenly, I’m accused of ‘not really leaving Islam’, an ‘Islamic sympathiser’. Both sides see me as an enemy : the Islamic one for unveiling myself and wearing modest western clothes. I have let myself forget Allah, and shaytaan has took over me. My hair shouldn’t be showing ; I should be in a veil, preserved like a pearl. The other side want to see more of my skin, more of my body , in order to truly ‘solidify ‘ myself with them. I reject both.

I didn’t support the burkini ban in France. I felt sympathy for the woman who was forced to strip. The bikini ban is akin to a swimsuit, and I think France had its priorities wrong. More attention should be focused on the repulsive full burqa and the niqab being forced on women in the Middle East. I do think the niqab and hijab are inherently sexist in principle, to make the woman a walking hymen. They are also nonsensical; it goes against nature to cover so much of your body. If Allah despised hair and the female form so much, why did he create it? I am 100 percent against a woman being forced into a hijab, niqab, jilbab, abaya, burqa, ect. Just as I am against a woman being forced to parade in her underwear or bare naked. Both are extremist ideals, that I want nothing to be part of. Both claim to achieve ‘liberality’. Apparently, wearing a hijab/ niqab/ burqa is liberating a woman from the sexist western fashion that only likes women exposing themselves. It’s ‘liberating’ from society’s ‘sexist ‘ expectations of women. Just as nudists and their movement claim to be the most liberating experience, free of clothes, just as nature intended. Both sides claim the same premise, yet they despise each other. The Islamic side views the western side as shameless, sinful, immoral, fornicating , servants of the devil. The western side see the Islamic side as extreme, oppressive, backward, old fashioned, and patriarchal.

Here is two different perspectives from a Muslim girl I am on good terms with and an ex Muslim girl, also whom I adore. Both have lived in the west for their whole lives and have worn hijab.

A Muslimah perspective:

What is your definition of ‘modesty’, and how do you apply that?

A: Having class. It’s knowing what is acceptable to wear and where. Like not wearing a crop top and shorts to a job interview.

How do you feel wearing hijab?

More comfortable with it, I guess. No one needs to know what my hair looks like. Because it makes me more closed off from others and makes me more of myself and that only I know who I am.

Are you a feminist?

If by definition, that men and women should be treated the same, then yes.

Why do you think it’s a good movement?

Because it later encourages children in this generation and future that they shouldn’t be stopped from being a job that is more ‘manly’. It promotes equal opportunity and I also think the gender pay gap is stupid. It’s a problem.

Do you have positive or negative thoughts about your body?

I don’t know… It’s a normal body. I just want modesty and no one else to see it. It’s like MINE, not theirs. I have a right to privacy in my life. It’s my body, I decide what I do.

What is your view on hijab and niqab? Are they ‘freeing’ or ‘oppressive’? And if so, why?

Hijab I have been wearing for almost 10 years. It’s very freeing for me. It gives me modesty. Niqab, I haven’t worn and I wouldn’t wear. I think it’s too far. Even though some people in my family wear it, it looks very uncomfortable. Hijab is the basic, it’s only covering your hair. There’s nothing oppressive about that. I’m not oppressed. It’s a choice I have made. I don’t think niqab should be forced on people. It’s a big step to cover almost your face. I stick to the basics.

Do you think a woman has a right to cover up or expose herself if she wishes?

I think she has a right to do both. I prefer to cover up, and not ever expose myself. It’s just my choice, plus Islam tells us to do this. Muslim women don’t wear exposing clothes. I follow Islam, I am a Muslim. I choose to cover up. Other women can decide what they want, I am not them. It doesn’t affect me.

How do you feel about western clothing in comparison to Islamic clothing?

I wear western clothing sometimes. Long tops and trousers. Other times I wear abayas. I like some western clothing, but the skirts, shorts and crop tops I would never wear. Some western clothing is too far. Islamic clothing is better for me. I feel more comfortable wearing it.

Do you feel western women are more free than Islamic women?

No. I really hate the stereotype that Muslim women are oppressed. We’re all people, we’re all free. None of the females in my family are in burqa’s and slaves to their husband. The media is just lying. I’m free to do whatever I like.

Do you think exposing yourself is shameful?

Sort of. When it gets to a point where your boobs and legs are all showing, it’s so trashy. I don’t understand why a woman would embarrass herself and wear that. She’ll get loads of creeps after her. It isn’t a good thing to do, it makes you look like a slut.

An Ex Muslim female’s perspective :

Do you have positive or negative thoughts about your body?

I haven’t always loved my body; when I was a Muslim I always felt my body was dirty and only for the use of men. As time has moved on I now know that having larger breasts is not something dirty and perfectly human. I have also learnt to cherish my body rather than consider it as a submissive tool as I would in the past.

What is your view on hijab and niqab? Are they ‘freeing’ or ‘oppressive’? And if so, why?

From a young age I have perceived the hijab and niqab as a negative attribute to society; muslim children are indoctrinated at a young age and part of the practise as a female muslim is to wear the hijab. As a 6 year old I wanted to play games and be young not wear a hijab and fear that a male may perceive me as a potential rape target.
This is where questions began to arise; why doesn’t a male wear a hijab? why are women treated like second class humans? I was witnessing this in my home. Throughout reading the quran I noticed more and more that a females had no place in Islam and the hijab was in fact a tool to oppress women and feel dehumanised. I began to say horrid things such as ‘If a woman doesn’t wear a hijab she deserves rape because she is asking for it’. I questioned myself and noticed I was in the wrong and these toxic thoughts would never be beneficial for me.

Do you think a woman has a right to cover up or expose herself if she wishes?

A woman who opts to wear the hijab and cover up has chosen, however out of consummate fear. The only reason I covered up more was out of complete trepidation of Allah and hell fire. Everyday I would assess whether or not my outfits were too tight or if my outfit brought the slightest amount of male attention.If so, I would expeditiously change to make sure Allah was not angry with me.

Is the Muslim female authentically autonomous if she is choosing to wear the hijab and cover up out of consummate fear?

There is the mentality as a Muslim girl you believe that you cover up because you’re a precious diamond who doesn’t deserve to be seen by every male. When in authenticity it is the male mindset which should be transmuted not the female herself.

How did you feel wearing hijab?

Once I wore the hijab I felt as if I gained the ultimate respect from my parents. It was always about pleasing Allah and this also pleased my parents.

Physically I felt older, mature and even wiser to the world; however there was something missing. My sense of liberation felt as if it was gone and that’s where I took the hijab off and felt more comfortable and at ease within myself.

Did the modesty element of Islam’s clothing ever seem appealing to you, and if so why?

Personally I was never a modest person when it came to dressing myself, I always enjoyed wearing revealing outfits. However as a pious Muslim I was willing to make the sacrifice and be modest for the sake of God.

How do you feel about western clothing in comparison to Islamic clothing?

Islamic attire has always been simple, the black burka and hijab to cover yourself with. There are other types of Islamic styles out there where they don’t wear the burka and just the hijab. However I’ve always viewed most of it negative due to being limited to such small choice.

As for western apparel, you can’t authentically pin it all down. There are several different categories and styles to western clothing. Giving so much more variety to choose from as for Islam there is only the option to cover with a burka.

Do you feel western women are more free than Islamic women?

Yes western women are certainly more free than Islamic women there is no doubt about it. They’re more free In a sense that they are able to do as they wish without being scrutinised for it however Islam limits what a female can do and underestimates her abilities in general. In contrast to western females, Muslim females seem to be denied liberation of being a woman and unfortunately they’re brainwashed to believe that is the right path for them.

Do you think exposing yourself is shameful?
I don’t mind exposing myself because I feel liberated by the clothes I wear or the ones I don’t, initially it all makes me a confident person. Why should revealing my body be seen as shameful?

Are you a feminist? If so, why do you think it’s a good movement?
I’ve always felt obliged to be a feminist from social pressures to the media throwing it at me otherwise I’m seen as if I have betrayed the the female population. I’ve always thought that equality should not be gender specific therefore I’m a humanist.

It’s up to the reader to decide what side they ally with. For me, it’s neither. I don’t conform to any of them. I don’t wear an abaya and a hijab anymore like the Muslim girl. I lack the confidence to wear clothing such as the amazing Ex Muslim. And despite all our different beliefs, we make our own choices. I support the right of the Muslim female to dress how she wants. I support the right of the Ex Muslim to dress how she wants. And I support the right of myself to wear what I want. It’s time to stop forcing conformity. Let us flourish.

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2 thoughts on “My body, my choice!

  1. “A walking hymen”. Ouch! – but I find this to be a perceptive attribution. As your ex-muslim says, “Why doesn’t a male wear a hijab?” The hijab at once designates a woman as a sex object, but says ‘hands off’. In a civilised society, men don’t need to be told ‘hands off’ by a sexist dress-code because they are brought up to respect women as human beings who are inherently entitled to be treated with dignity and respect wholly independently of what they wear. Is it a big deal if a man opts to wear a ‘muscle shirt’ because he wishes to display his physical prowess? The same rule must apply to women, as an unequal dress code only serves to designate one sex as sexual prey and the other as sexual predator. Both sexes are then stereotyped, but the burden of covering is placed on the female and any failure to cover is then automatically deemed as an invitation to sexual attention. Let us indeed flourish by equalising the dress code and instilling in our children the values of respect for others and of freedom of choice.

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