Can we stop talking about what a woman should and should not wear?
It’s not you, it’s us. The no-Hijab controversy is not just a political problem.
What is up with our country?
I don’t say it often, but I am proud to be an Indian. But, it is not a good time to be a woman in India. Almost everyone is aware of the ‘no-Hijab controversy’ that stirred up in the Southern part of India, Karnataka.
The no-Hijab controversy comes from deep-rooted stigma and islamophobia, but, at the same time, it grabs the roots of patriarchy and selective harassment that women have gone through over the years.
The no-Hijab controversy is baloney. The ‘defying the school rules’ is just a facade for the lack of diversity (again, facade) that the authority desires.
I refuse to believe that the India we think of as our mother wants this. I refuse to believe that India desires this harassment. But, today, I am not going to get political; I fear getting too political these days- so I will stick to my usual genre- patriarchy.
The no-Hijab controversy is definitely (by all means) political- it also talks about years of suppression and comments people have made against women- irrespective of their race.
“Don’t you dare wear this to the party? Do you know how short the dress is?”; “Change your clothes- you know how shallow your relatives are,” these are some things people have told us- be it family or friends. How often do you internally struggle with the thought of the dress being a little too short, or if the top is a little too low cut?
How often have you scowled at a Muslim woman for adorning her Hijab? How often have you talked about how oppressive wearing a Hijab is?
If you have, then let me tell you that you are just a by-product of the vicious patriarchal army our country has created.
Out of all the Muslim friends I have had, none have told me that their parent(s)/ guardian(s) have forced them to wear a Hijab. On the contrary, they adorn it- they feel powerful in it. So, who are you to decide that she is suppressed? Who are you to assume that wearing a Hijab is oppressive and misogynist? Why are women constantly being told to stop wearing this, start wearing that- do this, do that?
This time, I choose to ignore the political angle because Hijab or no-Hijab- nothing gives you the right to question her clothing choices. The funniest (disappointing, but not surprising) part about this entire thing is that a man, yes, a man ruled in favour of the no-Hijab policy.
Why is it so easy to assume that a woman feels suppressed in the clothing of her choice? A few of my acquaintances never wore a Hijab in college- but started wearing it because they desired it.
Let me make it easier for you- wearing a Hijab or not is a woman’s choice. Why is wearing a Hijab a ‘source of suppression’ and wearing a ghoonghat- a veil Hindu women wear on their forehead- not suppressive? This is what I mean by selective harassment. While wearing a ghoonghat is celebrated in Hindu families as a sign of respect among the elders, wearing a Hijab is considered wrong.
India, especially Indian men, have always had a say in the way women dress. How many times have we seen men talking about how ‘slutty’ or how ‘prude’ a woman dresses? How many times have men talked and rated the clothes women wore? Countless.
To have men, especially men of authority, talk about something that they clearly have no right to talk about is not acceptable. A ghoonghat is a woman’s choice, and so is a Hijab. So, it is high time Indian men stop talking about something they neither have the right to nor the permission to talk about.