Hijabi problem #99: I am oppressed

I am a hijabi (wearer of the hijab)

And I am oppressed.

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For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term hijab, let me clarify (but most of the world probably is by now). The term hijab technically refers to a scarf, but the way it is understood by Muslimahs (female practitioners of Islam) is a little more inclusive.  When we (muslimahs) refer to hijab, or call ourselves hijabis, we are referring to a style of dress which includes a scarf on the head in some fashion, and a certain etiquette by which we live our lives.  Different cultures will define proper hijab in different ways…some more “conservative “, some more “liberal”.  While I feel comfortable in the way I physically wear my hijab and socially practice it, I don’t feel the need to judge others on theirs. Is mine perfect? Hardly. But I consider myself a hijabi none the less.

And like the media loves to trumpet, I certainly am oppressed.

My attire doesnt stop me from physical activity (hiking, swimming, riding bikes, etc).  My dress doesn’t keep me from being fashionable/feeling beautiful (quite the contrary, I’ve never felt so good looking in my life!).  My social etiquette doesn’t keep me out of the work place or secluded at home (I’ve worked with both men and women with no awkwardness, and I’ve gone on outings on my own).  I’m not oppressed by my hijab.  But as a hijabi,  I am oppressed.

I’m oppressed by you.

Not you, specifically, dear friends.  You support me and my right to practice my faith, my way.  I love you all! By “you”, I mean the traditionally “western” concept of hijabi oppression.

Being glared at on the street and whispered about; constantly fearing a violent outburst from a stranger keeps me at home.  The current fashion of see-through blouses and crop tops makes it hard to dress myself.  Requiring I remove my hijab before I can work keeps me out of the workforce and dependent on a man to care for me.  You consistently, relentlessly telling me I am not a strong woman because of the choices I made for myself makes me feel secluded and weak.

I did not oppress myself.  I would not choose a way of life that makes me feel poorly about myself.  The only thing about being a hijabi Muslimah that is oppressive is other people’s attitude towards me and the difficulty of living in a society that doesn’t want me in it.

So when you see us on the street, don’t cluck your tongue and shake your head.  Smile.  Nod.  Maybe a little wave of “hello”.  Make us feel included.  Makes us feel welcome.  If you are so concerned about the oppression of hijabis, maybe you should stop doing it.

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I got 99 problems but my scarf ain’t one.

#hijabiproblems

*light-hearted notes below
1. Like I said before, not everyone does this. If you are reading this and are a hijabi supporter,  hey girl/dude! You’re the best!
2. The new style of “shirt dresses” is great for hijabis and am all about that fashion trend right now! Yes!
3. No, I don’t expect everyone to bow down to hijabi style and not wear sheer shirts and crop tops.  You do you, boo. We just want some fashion options that aren’t boring black Abayas*.
4.*if you like boring black Abayas that’s OK too. 🙂

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Being neutral does not mean supporting…a word on Turkish gov’t

Today I was watching a video on The Young Turks youtube channel, one of my favorite places to get my news (the anchors are hilarious).  I watched a segment on some events going on in Turkey, and I made the grave mistake of looking at the comments.

Just for a little background if you don’t already know:  Turkey is a majority Muslim country with a secular approach to government.  It has been as such since WWI when the Ottoman Empire was ousted and Ataturk, “father of the Turks”, took fledgling Turkey in a more westwardly direction, culturally.

Anyway, in the comments I witnessed some viewers commenting on the current governing party in Turkey.  I couldn’t tell if these folks were Turkish, living in Turkey, or whatnot, but their handles/usernames were not Turkish sounding.  I digress. The comments were expressing a grave concern about Turkey being made more religious/islamized/ whatever wonky word you would like to use, because of the religious agenda of the president/PM. Now, I only know a bit about the current president/PM, and politics being what they are, I don’t feel comfortable giving my own opinion on the governing group because I just don’t know enough.

Personally, I believe that religion belongs in the home/community, and not in the government.  I don’t think anyone has any business telling me to abide by their moral code, and the same applies to me.

Everyone can have their own opinion on the Turkish government, and that’s ok, but what REALLY infuriated me was commentary on a recent law that was passed (early 2014 I believe).  Previously, it was illegal to wear hijab at public universities and federal buildings.  Now, thanks to the current governing party, it is not illegal. I know, this seems crazy considering Turkey is a secular country with soooo many Muslim citizens (around 98%), but it’s the truth. No, not all Muslimahs cover their hair, but when I was in Turkey I saw plenty.  That is a lot of women to bar from higher education and involvement in federal affairs (be it as support staff or political careers).  This brings us to the comments from the unfortunately narrow-minded peanut gallery.

According to them, Turkey was being made more Islamic, and religion is being forced on the citizens because covered women are allowed to enter these locations.

I CAN’T EVEN

  How can anyone draw the conclusion that giving freedom of religion equates supporting, nay, pushing any religion on the populace.  How ignorant can you be?!  So if you aren’t oppressing the people, you are glorifying them? What happened to neutrality? Non-discrimination?

  My heart rate just sky-rocketed and my brows are furrowed as I assault my keyboard.

  If you want the right to live your life the way you want to, and be given every opportunity to succeed in it, you should do the same for me and others.  I honestly cannot understand people who think it is right to shove their way of life in the face of others, and expect the receiver of this behavior to be happier for it.  Just stop. Stop it now.  You will see me be the first to stand up for the rights of others who don’t live by my rules, do the same for me.