Features, Regressive Left, Religion

The Hijab and the Regressive Left’s Absurd Campaign to Betray Freethinking Women

Progressives should act like progressives –

even when Islam is concerned

The first woman in a hijab to anchor a television news broadcast!  To dance as a ballerina!  To fence in the Olympics!  To — cue for gasps at the sheer progressive splendor of the moment — pose in Playboy!  

Headlines proclaiming such “firsts” — performed by Muslim women living, nota bene, in the United States and Canada — have appeared often in the press over the past couple of years. Surely by now you’ve seen them.  The associated coverage is frequently gushing, but when it is not, it is not probing, and certainly not critical.  It is, in fact, part and parcel of the regressive left’s insidious attempt at brainwashing well-meaning liberals into lauding what should be, in our increasingly diverse societies, at best a neutral fact: freedom of speech means freedom of religion.  Women should be free to dress as they please.  Some Muslim women wear hijabs and are the first to do so in various endeavors.  

By no means does freedom of religion, however, confer on religion or religious customs exemptions from criticism, satire, or even derision.  The American revolutionary Thomas Paine, among others, established that.  Too much is at stake.  Unsupported by evidence, at odds with science, and frequently deleterious to the common good, religion and its attendant customs deserve intense, sustained rationalist scrutiny.  Our fellows, of course, are free to base their lives on ancient claptrap ideologies entailing uncritical acceptance of absurdities (talking snakes, virgin births, flying horses, and so on), but they should not expect the rest of us to ignore or let pass without comment the intrusion of said claptrap into the public arena.  In the United States, for example, the faith-addled — though, thankfully, dwindling in number — use their votes to the detriment of, inter alia, reproductive rights, the right to die with dignity, and public education. With religion losing its grip on the young, progressives of all ages need to seize the initiative and speak out.  The established trend is toward nonbelief.

Hence, few spectacles are more puzzling, disturbing, hypocritical, and potentially damaging to women’s rights — and therefore to human progress as a whole — than the de facto campaign in some purportedly liberal press outlets to normalize the hijab and portray it as a hallmark of feminist pride and dignity, and not as a sartorial artifact of a misogynistic, seventh-century ideology, forced upon its wearers by law in some countries and by hidebound cultural norms and community and familial pressure, even violence, elsewhere.  

It should shock true progressives that the hijab’s media champions are, in the majority, non-Muslim women residing in the West, working for secular publications, and enjoying the protections afforded by a secular legal environment: no one is going to force them into a hijab, or threaten or murder them if they refuse to wear it.  They may well hold that they are promoting the right of a mostly nonwhite minority to dress as they please and follow the faith of their choosing, but in fact they are traducing freethinking women in this same minority — and, what’s worse, with the implicit backing of thugs, acid-throwers, and assassins.  Their campaign reeks of betrayal of the most craven kind — inadvertent though it may be.

Before moving on to specimens of “first-hijabi” reportage, it’s worth noting that Muslim populations everywhere — even in Saudi Arabia — comprise both men and women of varying degrees of faith, from diehard believers to reformists to doubters and outright atheists and those who just don’t give a hoot about religion.  (Atheism is, in fact, growing in the Arab world.)  Journalists who assume, say, that imams or hijab-clad women speak for everyone in their communities unjustly deprive nonbelievers, especially nonbelieving women, of representation.  Reformists and nonbelieving women nominally of Muslim background often live with threats of violence and even death, and frequently find themselves ostracized.  The brave, Somali-born atheist and public intellectual Ayaan Hirsi Ali is only the most famous example (she has needed armed guards ever since, more than a decade ago, when she began speaking out against Islam), but others, including the Canadian blogger and illustrator who goes by the name of Eiynah (@NiceMangos) are also at risk.  Eiynah has to hide her true identity for obvious security reasons — a fact that should give the hijab’s cheerleaders pause, to say the least.  Again, we are talking about residents of North America, not North Africa.  

To the press.  The highest-profile “first-hijabi” was, no doubt, the fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics on the American team.  This turned out to be something less than the sparkling gala moment for hijabis it was initially touted as.  Muhammad’s mother chose this sport for her because she could practice it while wearing a headscarf.  Ibtihaj Muhammad later said herself that “I wanted to find a sport where I could be fully covered and I didn’t have to look different” (given that a protective mask would hide her face anyway).  Though her adherence to Islamic modesty customs effectively ruled out any of the thirty-nine other sports at which she might have excelled in the Olympics, the Huffington Post saw fit to inform us that this restricted captive of her mother’s worldview was “Winning Hearts Everywhere” and that her participation in the games (drastically limited as it was) was, of all things, a “Feminist Moment.”

The Huffington Post also apprised us of the case of the fourteen-year-old Stephanie Kurlow, an Australian who converted to Islam at age ten, and her hopes of being the first hijabi ballerina.  Young Kurlow tried to crowd-fund her dance school tuition, but eventually, Swedish tennis legend Björn Borg (who professed to be “really moved” by her story) stepped in, and his organization offered to foot the bill.  Upon learning this, Kurlow declared that she sought to “bring the world together by becoming the very first hijab-wearing ballerina” and wanted to “encourage everyone to join together no matter what faith, race or colour” and thereby “leave [sic] in a world with greater acceptance.”  

How Kurlow intends to “bring everyone together” by espousing a faith mandating everlasting hellfire for non-Muslims — still the majority of humans on this planet — and death for apostates and gays, is anyone’s guess.  Nevertheless, Bjorg’s marketing director swooned over her.  “The strength and the courage that it takes for [a] 14-year-old to not give up in a situation like this, to see possibilities where others see problems, is exceptional.”  (Italics mine.)  

“In a situation like this?”  Presumably, Kurlow converted to Islam of her own free will; it’s not like she suddenly found herself stricken with polio.  What is truly exceptional is this marketing director’s discounting the obvious — that fourteen-year-olds, to say nothing of ten-year-olds, sometimes do and say silly things.  Perhaps worse, though, is that an editor would exploit a teen and her possibly temporary adherence to a belief system to make a highly questionable political point.  

When Kurlow grows up and abandons Islam, as she may well do, will the Huffington Post be on hand to cover it?  

Kurlow credited — if such is the right word — Amna Al Haddad (a hijabi weightlifter from the United Arab Emirates) and Noor Tagouri, a hijabi Internet news anchor in the United States, with inspiring her to pursue a career in ballet while duly scarved.  The twenty-two-year-old Tagouri has since garnered attention for being the first hijabi to pose (fully clothed) for the “Renegades” issue of Playboy (which no longer runs photos of naked women).  The headline for the Huffington Post article about her states, without intimations of satire, that “Noor Tagouri Makes a Forceful Case for Modesty.”  Again, by appearing in Playboy.  

(Google Tagouri and you will find quite a few photos showcasing boldly — that is, immodestly — her model-level looks on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  You will also come across a saccharine Hollywood Life piece about her career, which leaves readers no doubt about how she has leveraged her faith to make a name for herself.)

The Huffington Post also publishes, without commentary but with typos, Tagouri’s assertion that she believes “in rebellion as a form of honestly [sic] . . . .  To be our most authentic self is to rebellious [sic].”  Wait – to be one’s most “authentic self” as a twenty-first-century American woman means adopting a 1,400-year-old religion that demand wives submit to their husbands (even abusive husbands), sets out inegalitarian inheritance rights for women, permits taking captive women as sex slaves, and even sanctions the savage butchery that is female genital mutilation?  No one at the Huffington Post thought to ask her such impertinent questions.

Iranian women protesting the forced wearing of the hijab, 1979

Iranian women protesting the forced wearing of the hijab, 1979

Anyway, since when does obedience to religious dictates count as rebellious?  Lest we forget, truly rebellious Iranian women took to the streets to protest against being forced into the hijab after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.  We are obliged to conclude the obvious: professing Islam as a woman is “renegade” in the West, but only if we ignore or know nothing about the faith’s onerous misogynistic injunctions.  It would hardly be so “renegade” in, say, ISIS-held territory in Libya — the homeland of Tagouri’s parents.  

The Independent, in covering Tagouri’s men’s mag “achievement,” at least publishes a couple of critical accompanying tweets:

 

In the same genre of the “immodestly modest” The Washington Post recounted the story of Colorado-born beauty-blogger Nura Afia, a twenty-four-year-old hijabi who is “one of the new faces of CoverGirl.”  The author at least adumbrates the checkered reality surrounding the “choice” to wear the hijab in Muslim countries.  Afia, chosen as an ambassador for CoverGirl’s So Lashy! BlastPro Mascara campaign, told CNN that, “It’s a big accomplishment for all of us,” since “we’re average Americans . . . .  We’re just girls that love to play with makeup and do everyday stuff.”  CNN also informs us that Afia “has more than 200,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel, where she posts video tutorials on how to recreate various makeup looks, and more than 300,000 followers on Instagram.”  By the virtual world’s standards, this is some mightily impressive “modesty.”  

Which prompts me to ask, just how much money and fame can a “modest” woman earn by capitalizing on her profession of Islam?  CoverGirl is finding out, that’s for sure.  And their target audience (and profits) certainly look set to grow.

Most recently, Halima Aden, a nineteen-year-old Somali-American teen from Minnesota, won attention for a two-for-one: for being, again according to the Huffington Post (notice a pattern?), the “first ever contestant . . . to wear a hijab and a burkini” in, of all things, the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.  A tweet reproduced shows a video of Aden, thus attired, swinging her hips – modestly? – as “contestant number one” on the catwalk in the swimsuit competition.  Emblazoned above her Huffington Post accolade in hot pink letters is PAVING THE WAY.  

One wonders, paving the way to what? to the dawn of Islamic theocracy in Minneapolis?  To the shaming of non-hijabi Muslim women across the land?  To the shaming of uncovered nonbelieving women in general?  A hijab- and burkini-bound beauty contestant “paves the way” to nowhere I would want to go.  And hey, aren’t beauty pageants something to which we progressives should object?  In any case, a shame-based retrograde view of the female body (as nothing but a provoker of male lust) forms the core of modesty dress codes, be they Islamic, Christian, or Jewish.  Such codes implicitly brand the women who choose not to comply as impious sluts inferior to the Righteous Ones strutting about in their ostentatiously self-segregating getup.  

There are, to be sure, other “first-hijabi” features on line.  What we should remember when perusing all this digital dross is that donning said headscarf is either required by law, imposed by custom, or at least strongly encouraged in countries across the Muslim world — countries ranked, by the standards of the World Economic Forum, as eighteen of the nineteen worst on earth for women.  Violators of the law or custom can be murdered or threatened with execution, as the Saudi woman who dared post on line a picture of herself hijab-less in public found out, as contributors to the Iranian hijab-free site My Stealthy Freedom know, and as women who have escaped ISIS territory and joyously ripped off their hijabs would attest.  

The hijab signals a deep, unbridgeable, and mostly (at least in the above-mentioned articles) unacknowledged ideological divide between hijabi women and the rest.  Which does not mean that the garment should be proscribed or that, by any means, obviously, those who wear it should be harassed.  Eiynah tells us, in a must-read piece, that, “Yes, we must oppose anti-Muslim bigotry, but we must keep in mind that this doesn’t mean glorification of modesty codes that target women.”  However, she notes, and it’s worth quoting her at length, that her

[S]ocial media feeds are inundated with well-meaning liberal friends sharing article upon article praisingcelebratingglorifying religious garments like the hijab/niqab.  But it’s a garment used exclusively in its original form to ensure women cover up lest they provoke the lust of men. . . .  The Muslim girls who want to be ballerinas, athletes or models and aren’t hijabis simply aren’t given very much coverage.  

Her conclusion:

As someone who immigrated to Canada from Saudi Arabia, who was forced by morality police to cover her hair, threatened with a cane, I cannot stomach the fetishization and praise surrounding these practices that are primarily used to control and hold women back.

Eiynah’s voice deserves to be heard a lot more than it is.  Ironically, if she donned the hijab, it surely would be.  

 

Jeffrey Tayler is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. His seventh book, Topless Jihadis — Inside Femen, the World’s Most Provocative Activist Group, is out now as an Atlantic ebook. Follow @JeffreyTayler1 on Twitter.

Jeffrey Tayler

Jeffrey Tayler

Jeffrey Tayler is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is the author of seven books, including “Angry Wind,” “River of No Reprieve” and “Murderers in Mausoleums.” Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyTayler1.
Jeffrey Tayler
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Filed under: Features, Regressive Left, Religion

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Jeffrey Tayler is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is the author of seven books, including “Angry Wind,” “River of No Reprieve” and “Murderers in Mausoleums.” Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyTayler1.

35 Comments

  1. Whyaxye says

    “Unsupported by evidence, at odds with science, and frequently deleterious to the common good, religion and its attendant customs deserve intense, sustained rationalist scrutiny.”

    Anything that is frequently deleterious to the common good deserves intense, sustained, rationalist scrutiny; at least if we want to preserve the common good. But as for the other stuff – being unsupported by evidence, and being at odds with science – that could just as well merit being left alone. Those criteria only justify such scrutiny when coupled with a pre-existing antipathy.

    • “Those criteria only justify such scrutiny when coupled with a pre-existing antipathy.”

      The problem with that argument is that religion constantly makes intrusion into secular life, customs, politics. Irrational evidence-free policy deserves condemnation, not a free pass. If they could just keep their clap-trap confined in their homes and churches no one would have a problem – but, of course, they adamantly refuse to do so.

      • Whyaxye says

        “religion constantly makes intrusion into secular life, customs, politics.”

        Some does, certainly; hence my clearly-stated agreement with the part about the common good. But not all religions involve themselves with policy, and “intrusion into secular life (and) customs” is practised by anyone who has a publicly-expressed opinion, (such as those on this site) and is frequently harmless.

        You would need a very low irritability threshhold to take offence (in my country at least) at the beliefs and practices of Quakers, Theravadan Buddhists, Unitarians, Druids, Methodists, Hindus, and even Anglicans. Of course, anyone might define them as “intrusive”, but the same applies to almost any group that one might specify. Generalised aggressive secularism as an on-line fashion.

  2. Pingback: Jeff Tayler back in the saddle again: criticizes the “first hijabi” trope « Why Evolution Is True

  3. Feet binding (cultural expectation) ranks number 1 in reprehensible and horrifying practices, female genital mutilation # 2, metal rings around neck (as with the Karen tribe in Southeast Asia) #3, mandatory hijab wearing In temperatures ( especially in temps over 100 degrees) #4 and the list isn’t finished. So why doesn’t the alt left try to glorify brass rings around women’s neck? The answer is that it is utterly ridiculous like the hijab. The alt left needs to quit finding causes to make them feel sanctimonious and start listening to the purpose behind the actual hijab wearing.

    • Debby G says

      I’m sorry, neck rings, genital mutilation and feet binding are not making an attempt at becoming mainstream in a western society that has decided that the suppression of women’s rights is wrong. Yes, on some level we have no right to judge, which is why the author is careful to say that. The west has it’s own practices that subjugate women, like swimsuit competitions that encourage women to starve themselves. But I hope you can at least acknowledge our confusion when the media touts the wearing of the hijab as a feminist act when there is much behind it that is not about equality.

      • Somer says

        Yes we DO have a right to determine that these things do not become ever more common by stealth. Like FGM practitioners being flown into the west, and SJW doctors recommending that a mild version of it be done by Medical authorities to appease the precious cultural sensitivities of others. And as if swimsuit competitions are comparable to a garb that All women are expected to wear, that goes with a suite of hot clothes that must be worn at all times, on pain of threat of hell fire or in many cases family ostracisation or even worse

    • Ronnie Wright says

      And, of course, a woman would leave out male genital mutilation (circumcision). Next time try taking the red pill.

  4. George says

    I agree with the sentiments, but what if some women wearing the hijab do so for their own reasons?

    This kind of rhetoric makes me sigh and roll my eyes a little bit as it seems as inflammatory as some of the denser ‘non-rational’ religious narratives this article claims to be above.

    • James says

      What if an indoctrinated woman told you that she was better off illiterate and uneducated, would you also take her word for it?

  5. Fully agree. It was very tiring in the summer, what with all sorts of “Celebration” of the hijab especially at the Olympics and then with France, at some beaches, banning the burkini.
    The BBC and Channel 4 in the UK were the worst for this.
    Two things stood out for me, which are echoed in this article. The fencer being celebrated to the heavens. My immediate thinking was her self-limitations. And then still in living memory the forced wearing of scarves in Iran in 1976, as well as Iranian women rebelling against it now.
    It was weird to see the BBC run about five hijab-celebrating stories, and one article about those rebellious Iranian women. It was as if they were not quite sure what to do, but the celebration won over. It wasn’t even noticed that while the hijabi fencer won a bronze (hooray!), another US athlete, a Muslim, was the first ever US female athlete to win a gold in the 400 metres hurdles. But she didn’t wear a hijab, so not covered (no pun) in their output.
    With the obvious root of misogynistic control and often forced wearing, their outlook seems to be “Even if one woman says it’s her choice, then I support it”, never mind considering Stockholm Syndrome or downright lying might play a part.

    • Moreno says

      Fino a prova contraria, la BBC è sempre stata filoislamica; qualcuno forse non se ne renderà conto, ma in Europa abbiamo venduto l’anima per una manciata di petrodollari.

  6. They often say wearing the hijab is a choice but the cultural pressure is much too great to give it up. Religious police in many Arab countries can get very nasty if you don’t cover. Are you aware that fungus is an issue for head and body coverers as well as vitamin D absorption.

  7. Bonnie Berg says

    You lost me at “Eiynah has to hide her true identity for obvious security reasons — a fact that should give the hijab’s cheerleaders pause, to say the least. Again, we are talking about residents of North America, not North Africa.”
    This blogger’s claims seem to be more attention-seeking than sincere. Canada is hardly a dangerous place for ex-Muslims, and Eiynah has her parents’ and her husband’s blessings for her efforts. Women like Raheel Reza and Irshad Manji are out in public and they are doing more important work than Eiynah. Her security reasons do not seem that obvious to this Canadian.

    • The reference to “Eiynah” was a bit disappointing. Okay she apparently said things that would resonate in this instance, but I didn’t hear her say anything approaching that (forced / cranes / threatened) in her three-hour chat with Sam Harris – in fact, quite the opposite.
      I’m yet to be convinced by her, if I ever bother following any other output.

    • So you are joining the Gad Saad / Dave Rubin bandwagon of shaming ex-Muslims who choose anonymity for their own safety? Would you be happier if she had to live under around-the-clock armed security – is that where the bar is set for you to consider someone worthy of your respect? Are you in favor of outing ex-Muslims online because you know better than they do what kind of risks they face by being apostates and critics of Islam? Or are you simply proposing that we dismiss them all out of hand as cowards or attention whores because the only ex-Muslim opinions that matter are the ones expressed by people whose security concerns you have personally deemed sufficiently threatening?

      I am going to go way out on a limb and suggest that the best person to determine the risks Eiynah faces is Eiynah, and I for one will continue to show solidarity with ex-Muslims rather than attacking them for the choices they make to keep themselves and their families free of violence.

      • Bonnie Berg says

        Her decision to be anonymous is hers. I’m not interested in knowing who she is. But I find her reasons to need anonymity in Canada to be debatable.

  8. Amethyst Young says

    I’m an atheist with Islamic heritage and not a fan of the hijab. I found this article quite unhelpful.

    By defining Islam in such shallow terms (and indeed restricting it to) its most regressive characteristics, he betrays fundamentalist traits himself. It is telling that the picture at the front of the article is of woman in a burqa/niqaab (a face veil) worn by few empowered Muslim women. The article goes on to talk about the hijaab, a different religious dress. Given the inflammatory tone of the article I doubt the mix-up was unintentional.

    The author just doesn’t understand religion or why many people believe in it. The hijab is seen by many Muslim women as a cultural symbol. Those that support it in the West (I don’t) often see the successful hijabi woman as someone who has advanced in her own field without compromising her culture to kowtow to the dominant cultural hegemony. To insist that such persons are indoctrinated or sympathize with awful practices is disingenuous at best.

  9. Marc L Roche says

    Bravo Mr. Tayler!!! A much needed rebuttal to the liberal’s hijabi fetish. Modesty culture is deeply
    misogynistic, a giant step backward for women,

  10. NeapolitanDynamite says

    The thing about assimilation is that it can work either way, though. Why assume that nonbelievers who don’t wear a hijab will be shamed as a result of commingling? Why not, instead, assume believers who do wear a hijab will be less isolated and more open to seeing themselves in new ways if supported and cheered on when it comes to engaging in traditionally ‘Western’ activities?

    I agree there are problems with “The Regressive Left”, but I also think you have to define it one way or the other, or else it turns into an “everything you do is wrong!” stance. If identity politics divides people (when you get into things like ‘appropriation’, it starts to look eerily like segregation rebranded… “We’re not segregating you, we’re nobly avoiding appropriating your culture out of respect!”), then the opposite, celebrating inclusion, is actually a turn in the other direction. If one doesn’t agree that males should apologize for the history of maleness and white people should apologize for the history of whiteness, why make women who want to wear a hijab apologize for the history of Islam?

    • Patrick McCabe says

      Being male or “white” is an accident of genetics, not a choice, and does not signify an acceptance of and agreement with whatever history of atrocities the “white” or male population is generally guilty of. Wearing a hijab is a choice and signifies an acceptance of Islam with all its historical warts. So, should hijab wearers apologize for the history of Islam? Why bother? That would be like an abusive husband apologizing to his wife as he continues to beat her.

      • NeapolitanDynamite says

        That’s just identity politics – the very kind of “Regressive Left” thing that the author disagrees with – rebranded, though, as if lumping people together by culture, religion, or ideology will somehow be immune to all the issues that comes from lumping people together by race or gender. By this logic any woman who wears lingerie by choice is supporting the historical objectification of women. That train of thought leads right back to the same place.

        Certainly there are extreme examples where we make exceptions – while it is probably true that the Confederate flag means different things to different people, in my mind it is too tarnished to be used as a symbol for anything. But for the most part I think the dynamic tension is between judging people as individuals vs. blocs, and you cannot erase that by creating an arbitrary line between “anything genetic = ok; anything not genetic = ok to stereotype”.

  11. cooeerup says

    I’m sick to death of this creeping “modesty” culture. I’m sick of being told it’s hypocritical to speak against the hijab using “religious male control of women’s bodies” arguments because ….. Bikinis. I’m sick of seeing pictures on SM depicting me as an unwrapped lollipop with flies buzzing around me. I’m sick of the endorsment of what is tantamount to slut shaming based on clothing choices, when I’ve spent decades fighting the idea that what women choose to wear dictates whether they contributed to their sexual assault.
    I subscribe to liberal secular democracy on principle so accept that religious women can wear whatever the heck they think their particular version, among thousands, of the creator of the universe, or men who claim to speak for it, wants. I think it’s a shame that after 3,000 yrs of patriarchal religion controlling women & their sexuality women still subscribe to this stuff. I for one am not going to applaud such behaviour; i’m certainly not going to support its message & will argue against it because it is illiberal, based on myths, and offensive to every woman who has been fighting to shed ourselves of these methods of control for decades. I’m not going back there!

  12. Where is center? Many “free-thinking women” are merely American women who live in a state of relative openess, but have litlle to show for it. I am not saying they should wear niqab or burkas, yet the issue is a bit more complex than “victory for free-thinking women.” If an Islamic woman or a woman in an Islamic country should wish to choose to NOT cover her hair (as we have seen in Egypt for one), abstractly that is, or perhaps SHOULD BE her right. Yet the “battle for freedom” sounds rather patriarchal in its own way, whether it’s Angela Merkel or Mr. Harris. Can I provide an example? The USA is going to have a huge burqa influx (it’s already underway) and we have got to be ready to see on a case-by-case basis.

  13. I have to say I remain bemused at how so many women who would call themselves feminists, seem to think it is a good idea to support the Hijab.

    They are clearly unaware that Muslim dress codes, including the Hijab, which by the way is in some cultures, forced on girls as young as six, exist because the female form and hair are considered evil and must be covered in order to protect males who would be reduced to bestial sexual predators at the sight of female flesh and hair, including it seems that of children.

    How can anyone ever utter a shred of support for such an evil garment, which makes a mockery of justice, common sense and respect for a human being?

  14. Pingback: The Hijab and the Regressive Left’s Absurd Campaign to Betray Freethinking Women | Quillette | Ruminations

  15. Merry Runaround says

    Who cares if a woman wears a hijab or not? Who cares if some journalist or a blogger thinks hijab-wearing makes for an interesting story or not? This is a simply matter of routine attention-seeking by one or more parties. There is no progressive/regressive angle here at all, or at least not in western cultures where hijab wearing is optional. I care about a woman’s hijab wearing about as much as I care about her choice of shampoo–not at all. Maybe she desperately wants me to care but that is her tweak, not mine.

  16. Malcolm C says

    Seems like an exceptionally long exercise in missing the point… There is every evidence that women who wear the hijab in the West are doing so by their own choice, and also every evidence that they are as the result the victims of the most discrimination, in employment, in terms of harassment, etc. This is especially so in Europe but also true in North America. When people celebrate hijabi women who have succeeded here, it is because they are willing to put themselves in the public sphere despite the animus they are likely to be subjected to (for instance, by the author of this article.)

    The author conflates the horrible practice of forcing women to wear the hijab in many Muslim countries with the free choice of wearing it here, in the age of President Donald Trump, Brexit, etc. Supporting women here who wear the hijab is a rejection of prejudice and discrimination – why does the author think it is equivalent to condoning that women are forced to wear it elsewhere? The question of consent is what matters – if women choose to wear it (as they do here), than their wearing of it is an entirely different matter from women who don’t choose to wear it elsewhere. The inability to see the difference speaks of a powerful lack of imagination.

    At one point, the author sneeringly suggests that hijabis here who have become successful are really exploiting their identity for cash, citing examples such as beauty advice columnists and beauty contests. Again, shows what he knows – I know hijabi women who similarly wear makeup and live in ways that might be unthinkable in places like Saudi or Iran. But we are not in Saudi Arabia or Iran; the author really seems clueless across the board. Weirdly, it seems like he is suggesting if they dress this way that they SHOULD behave the way men force them to behave in ultra-conservative countries.

    Finally, the idea that hijabi women are lording their “modesty dress” over non-hijabi women, Muslims or otherwise, is a crude stereotype. Need proof? Ask a hijab-wearing woman! (The author has apparently never spoken to one, his piece certainly isn’t informed by these conversations if so.) It is certainly conceivable that this is true in ultra-conservative countries, or circles here, but the idea that hijabis are “self-segregating” or feel superior to the rest of us could be debunked in a five minute conversation with a woman who chooses to dress this way in the West. I have heard friends of mine answer this question themselves, always answering in the negative – no, I don’t dress this way to “shame” other women, it’s a personal choice. Of course, here they have the choice, whereas elsewhere they wouldn’t (and that’s deplorable) – but these are two separate issues.

    In short, you’d have to be really thick not to be able to realize that something practiced by choice in some places, and enforced elsewhere, are not the same thing. It’s like claiming homosexual sex is oppressive, because in prisons it is often non-consensual – but what about everywhere else, where it IS consensual?

  17. Easy to critisize a foolish new trend that seems to excuse a harsh religion, but there are so many things we do outside of religion that are “frequently deleterious to the common good” and even constantly deleterious, that your article amounts to hypocricy.

    Also, did it cross your mind that there may be a strategy to this? Acceptance is the first stage of absorption.

  18. The regressive left is finished. They have alienated so many people they cannot win an election against Trump. In France, the incumbent president will not stand for re-election in an effort to save the socialist party from collapse. In his place runs a candidate that supports the burkini ban (like an overwhelming majority of French citizens) and considers the hijab the “servitude of woman”. He is the most islam-friendly of a dozen candidates. The list goes on an on. In the Netherlands the anti-Islam party is largely ahead in the polls. This horror show will not end until each and every islam apologist has been wiped out. The sooner it happens, the better.

  19. Dear Mr. Tayler, says

    Dear Mr. Tayler,
    While I certainly agree that the irony of praising the hijab-first is iconic for the illiberal left, I think that this whole notion of Playboy and other magazines being “objectifying” is way off. It’s not that these women posing in these magazines are forced to do it. They freely chose to do it, because it requires little skill and gets them good money. Also, if female nudity is objectifying, why are so many girls and women “objectifying themselves” on a daily basis on instagram, facebook and other social media platform?
    Also, is the same true for the male cK models? Are they getting objectified? The male body “as nothing but a provoker of female lust”?
    I don’t think so. While it may be tempting at times to invoke the die-hard-feminist narrative (e.g. “pictures of non-nude/half-nude/nude women are objectifying”) to fit one’s point, I think it is misplaced here.

    Looking forward to reading your next article,
    Kind regards

  20. Darwin T of BC Humanists says

    Great letter variety and perspectives on offer here.

    The original veil was a product of ancient environmental necessity. When the second last animal that we domesticated approximately 8000 years ago, the camel, was used to cross vast expanses of desert veils were used by men and women in the caravans to protect themselves from sandstorms. Pulling back the veil and leaving a head covering to protect from the sun was also needed.

    Adaptation by religious leaders followed. They made up a reason to wear hijabs and veils etc. that was based on mythology and power dynamics. Like all ideas we can judge for ourselves whether it is worthy of respect or not. I say it is not a good idea but respect the individual for choosing to wear them if fully aware. The niqab and burka are unique in trying to negate the individual and should have less space to thrive. I do not like them in government offices, airports, banks for starters as the added mystery of wondering do we have to worry about what may be concealed is a consideration. Outside of those places though it must still be a free choice as much as it is a regrettable one. As for countries that enforce this dress code backed by a legal code and armed police, they are not to be respected or catered to.

    The recent visit to Saudi Arabia by the German Defence Minister was covered widely, pun intended, in the region and it showed her deliberately choosing not to wear a headscarf. Was this also cheered by Huffington Post and BBC? Her hosts had much more important matters to discuss and did not press the point of her flouting Saudi law. We need to flood these religious patriarchies with cringe inducing examples on a daily basis so they can grow up. Let’s normalize dissent and secularity in those places as we have in liberal democracies.

    Next up? Have a western leader or diplomat celebrate a trade or cultural agreement by deliberately opening a bottle of Scotch and toasting the agreement in front of all the cameras. Remember the Qur’an says no “khemr” which for the first few centuries meant ONLY no wine. Only after the invention of the alembic copper distillation kettle did we get distilled spirits and that happened in the year 800 CE, long after Muhammad’s death. Only well after that invention did the mullahs and imams decide khemr applied to all alcohol, another Arabic word by the way. Just like all religions they make it up as they go along!

  21. Pingback: Gormless Leftists, LGBTs, And Women Teaming Up With Islamists In Anti-Trump Drive | Ares and Athena

  22. Pingback: How to combat political Islam — Society’s Child — Sott.net – Your Libertarian NewsCast

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