Freedom Behind Hijab

Guest Writer: Mai Ahmed Elsayed

Many males as well as females have misconceptions regarding hijab oppressing the girl’s beauty. This misconception was raised from the belief that women are being categorized as the weak gender and highlighting the man as the stronger gender that can keep their women under control. On the contrary, it is men who needed to be controlled. Despite the fact that claim that women are tempting to men and hence a danger to society, the truth is that males that cannot discipline themselves are the ones that give threat to our social order and that again makes women stronger than men because the scenario now is turned over. This is why I sometimes wonder why is it that unveiled girls seem to get attention over their clothes and body size more than veiled one’s ever do until I spotted out that hijab provides a female with liberation she would never be able to grasp from any other source.

Mansura Abubakar, a graduate of Uloomul Hadith from Riyadh, discussed how females are being exploited in today’s society and how sexuality is being openly used in the advertising world. There are females that sell soaps, shampoos, perfumes and yet even things that men use, trying to attract the desires of men to buy the company’s products.  “Is a woman really free in today’s society? The answer is obviously no.” she said. The constant bombardment by media as to how the perfectly ideal woman should look and dress testifies this. Females are now one of the strategies that media use to grab the viewers’ attention. Even women in hijab watching their husband’s reactions towards advertisements with females that barely have anything covering their bodies make them feel oppressed and wish they never wore the hijab. Moreover, a female now is mostly seen as a figure of sexual desire and thus, the hijab protects her sexual rights and is the best safeguard she can have against all offenses.

Psychologist Fisker S. at Princeton University proved this by performing two tests on heterosexual men. The first involved MRI brain scans while viewing pictures of fully clothed women, some with hijab and some without. However, it seems that the less the females in these photographs wore the more the premotor cortex and posterior middle temporal gyros (which are parts of the brain associated with tool use, hand movement, and the desire to take action) lighted up. The second was a memory test in which photographs of random women were being displayed for a fraction of second. Surprisingly, men tended to remember pictures of girls in bikini more efficiently. This study proved that when a man’s mental brain goes off he sees the object/ person (woman) in front of him as less humane. “You have to be aware of the effect of these images on how people think about other women”, “They’re not neutral.” Fisker said.

Never the less, hijab lessens crime and abuse against women; it also stops their meaningless display. Shabina S., an American journalist, added that “Covering also provided women a spiritual boost and a way to reject sexuality; they were no longer stared at by men and didn’t feel pressure to be attractive.” This illustrates how women felt comfortable in their veiled community. Furthermore, Peter Glick, a Lawrence University professor conducted a study about how co-workers perceive professional women who wear provoking outfit, and he concluded that such females are viewed as less smart and less responsible especially when in an authoritative leading position. Most men said that women especially those in a qualified position of power need to dress conservatively and smartly to gain their colleagues respect.

Women are appreciated according to their beauty since they were children and they try reaching these epitome standards of attractiveness. The hijab simply erases this competition between the feminine worlds. Likewise, Naheed Mustafa, an author who lived in the Middle East said “Wearing the hijab has given me freedom from constant attention to my physical self. Because my appearance is not subjected to public scrutiny, my beauty, or perhaps lack of it, has been removed from the realm of what can legitimately be discussed.” This is freedom! The criteria of the hijab is such that it shelters a female from negative fundamentals in the society and is simply a girl’s avowal that her physical persona plays no part in her social interaction, while promoting respect from all ranges of society.

Where ever we go in the world, the impression of hijab will vary. According to the society, it once brought pride to the girl but now brings oppression. It was once a shame to go out with exposing clothes but now it is fashion to go out with hot shorts. The point I’m trying to prove here is that the characterization of beauty is dynamic but again that doesn’t mean that what fashion categorizes to be beauty is essentially truly beautiful. A girl could look gorgeous in her hijab without the need of exposing her body. In other words, a woman who wears hijab is basically hiding her sexuality but permitting her femininity to be visible. Hijab is not about oppression, but Freedom from evil eyes.

To sum up, Hijab has now become more than a religious rule to follow. It has a hidden message or presentation behind it and as I’ve mentioned before in Peter Glick’s study  many men agree that covered girls look more serious than uncovered ones which means that hijab has become a tool to be used to basically provide a person good first impressions. Plus, it removes the girl’s bodily judgment from outside parties. In other words, it makes a woman feel safer from crime, molestation, abuse and rape. Is there a better implement for women’s empowerment?

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