The propagation of misconceptions

By Farah Ahmed

Othman O’Malley, the author of The Hijab and I, makes the assumption that the hijab has become a political statement for those who allow it to be. If one were to ask a Muslim woman who dons the hijab what it entails for her, the response would be far from political and closer to personal.

In a world where women have become commodities to the point where only the ideal appearance sells, why is it difficult to believe that there are women who would rather be judged on something other than the superficial. A person’s hair may be out of the “realm of politics” but it is not out of the realm of media. The appearance of an individual has defined generation after generation streaming through our movies, music, televisions series, and even our news reporters. So if a Muslim woman chooses to withdraw herself from this harsh and often unforgiving norm by wearing the hijab or if a Muslim man chooses to don a “ridiculous” beard, for the sake of their faith and principles, shouldn’t that be applauded? Instead, they are ridiculed for their faith and stereotyped as fundamentalists. The hijab doesn’t only focus on “shielding women from lustful gazes of men” it forces others to judge the person underneath the article of clothing by their character and intellect.

I question the author as to why he concludes that a hair salon for women who wear the hijab as ironical. Do those women not have hair underneath the cloth? If the author has been exposed to women who wear the hijab, how can he not know that hijab is only worn in front of men who are not family. Therefore, hair can be shown to other women and family, hence the potential necessity of a salon. And even if women didn’t publicly reveal their hair, is it so wrong to style their hair for their own pleasure? Must it be for a critical public?

The author himself acknowledges the important point that the continuing debate on the hijab prevents one to place a critical eye on the political and socioeconomic dilemmas of the world. Yet, O’Malley’s article is a contradiction to that statement because he places a political significance on a simple article of clothing.

The article is infused with offensive descriptions of what is a modest way of life for many. In light of the times, such an article promotes more ignorance on a topic, or rather a piece of clothing, that surpasses the boundaries of the Middle East.

Farah Ahmed

Junior in LAS