This was an idea i was discussing with my friend recently.
If you are one of the women who thinks/once thought women are repressed by wearing head scarves, raise your hand. My hand is raised right along with you.
For so long i thought that any sort of compulsory head covering by women of any religion was wrong. Why should women have to cover their heads when men don’t? Sing the liberated western societies.
However, let me pose a question to all of the ‘free’ western women. Do you wear make-up? Do you wear short skirts? And do men have to do the same? Well, we all know men do not wear short skirts and make-up. It’s not that we HAVE to wear these things, but for some reason they make us feel better. Why? The same cultural expectations for what women ‘should do’ exist in every society across the world. We are as influenced to do these things as women in the Middle East, Asia or Africa. From a young age women in these countries are (mostly) probably not forcefully told to wear a head scarf (although i recognise that some are), but there are subtle and direct influences exerted on their ‘decision’ to do so. These influences come from family, friends, media, culture and politics. In western societies like my lovely Irish one, us women are never told we must wear make-up and skirts, but be sure that there are a multitude of factors that influence our decisions.
I knew this wonderful woman in Australia called Mona. She was a Lebanese Australian. She wore a head scarf. I asked her one day what does she think of wearing it and how does it make her feel (or something along those lines). She answered with an unexpected ‘when i started wearing it it gave me so much confidence’. That was a surprise! Her head scarf empowered her. When i started wearing make-up i was also empowered. So our decisions were more alike than i thought.
So instead of trying to force our idea of freedom on other societies why not start asking what similarities there are? Perhaps women who wear head scarves see our choices as ones made due to cultural pressures too. Is make-up a form of female repression? Or is it empowering? It is as much a form of repression as wearing a head scarf is. How severe a form of repression is probably a subjective question.
I wonder what a woman, totally devoid of cultural influences would choose to wear. Headscarves, make-up, skirts etc etc etc.