This week in feminism, New Media, and Health:
We discussed disembodiments of oppressed women from physical boundaries into the free cyber space. These women have certain physical spaces that are limiting them (may be political to cultural), but they project their wants online.
The most prime examples used were Muslim women. Muslim women are often portrayed as covered in the hijab, niqab, simple scarf, chador, or burqa. Pictures?
Muslim women often fall subject to patriarchy. Western women have similar problems, but their issues are not as extreme or apparent in comparison. The epitome of oppression for Muslim women comes in the form of a head scarf or any of it various forms.
Now before any hijab flaunting women are offended, Islam holds in its esteem the piety and modesty of women. It expects the same from men. In fact the Quran lists many, many rights given to women in the public, to economic, to familial spheres. The problem is that many Islamic theocracies do not practice those same rights in their government. Sad truth.
But what about all these women who do observe the hijab? Many claim that it is their choice. They feel liberated that they do not have to succumb to notion of beauty set by today’s media. They feel respected, and feel they are not victims to harassment.
They say it is their choice. After all, isn’t choice what all women want? We want the choice for reproductive options. A choice to pick and meet our friends, lover, husbands, wives, etc. We want a choice over which procedures we want our doctors to preform. We want a choice to get the best possible career without settling for less due to our XX chromosomes. We want a choice.
But when is a choice not a choice? Recently, New York City Mayor Bloomberg was successful in banning large soda containers. This was for promotion for healthy eating and weight loss initiatives.
However, many activist against the ban took control of the story and morphed it into an issue of ‘infringement upon our freedom’.
But is it really a matter of freedom? Is this ideology of modesty and respect of women transmitted to Muslim women in the form of covering themselves? Ultimately, the hijab and any of its forms do indeed take the women out of the public sphere. It makes her an outsider. The empirical data shows this if we merely take a look at the power of men and women in countries where many a majority of women observe this attire. We have a glass celling, but they do they even have a notion of breaking one?
So it even a choice?