head coverings, including veils, hijabs, chadors, and niqabs, worn by Muslim women have come to symbolize the intersectionality between race, status, gender, and power. Discourse on the veil is often paradoxical in nature, as staunch feminists who otherwise champion the rights of the oppressed judge the head covering with a voice of colonial disdain. Unlike Western feminist discourses, which attempt to fuse anti-colonialist and anti-patriarchal sentiments, the Muslim feminist discourse can and often does distinguish between the two to champion the rights of women to choose how to express their identity. Muslim women often straddle the line between allegiance to their gender and allegiance to their ethnicity, culture, or religion. The veil itself has become an ironic symbol of both liberation and oppression, giving rise to meaningful discourse on intersectionality, accountability, and solidarity.
The tone of discourse about Muslim female head coverings has shifted considerably, as more Muslim women have entered into the conversation. As Bullock points out, by the eighteenth century, the veil had already come to represent an “oppressive custom among Muslims,” (1). Interestingly, a British woman was the first to champion the notion that the head covering is liberating as opposed to oppressive (Bullock 1). Thus, anti-veil discourse seems to have been dominated by patriarchal voices presuming that (a) Islam is oppressive because it is “other,” or “foreign,” and (b) Muslim women do not choose to wear the veil and are, therefore, oppressed. These two assumptions continue to plague and cloud open and constructive discourse on what the veil truly does represent in terms of identity and social status. Joanmohamad goes so far as to point out that anti-veil sentiments are the crux of east-west culture clashes: “If the position you start from is that Muslims are ‘other’, then no wonder interaction is difficult,” (Janmohamad). It therefore becomes politically expedient to understand the role the veil plays in forming Muslim female identity.
Central to the discussion of the veil is the notion of choice. Choice, freedom, and individualism are categorically Western philosophical concepts, which are being projected on non-Western societies. Al-Sarrani and Alghamdi ask why Western feminist scholars seek to “universalize values like freedom and agency,” rather than to approach the veil from a more genuinely liberally minded point-of-view (1). Likewise, there is an ongoing tendency to “generalize and make unwarranted assumptions” about Muslim society (Al-Sarrani and Alghamdi 1). Linked to the tendency for ethical absolutism related to the veil is a new form of the “white man’s burden,” in which Western feminists seek to “rescue” their Muslim sisters from the yolk of oppression. Janmohamad refers to the way Western feminists act as if they are superheroes entrusted with the power to liberate Muslim women (as if they need liberating) and by doing so, “infantilize” them (1). Similarly, Al-Sarrani and Alghamdi protest the way Western feminists use terminology suggesting than Muslim women need to be rescued. Janmohamad reminds the Western audience of the need to distinguish between genuine oppression and a simple article of clothing.
Discourse on the veil is always related to the intersection between gender, social status, and power. Thus, protestors of the veil are the new colonialists: those who would seek to subjugate veil-wearers on the grounds of cultural and ideological superiority. Ahmed notes that the current veil discourse echoes colonialism and its use of symbols as a means to subjugate. Usually, discourse on the veil can be reframed in terms of discourse on social class status. Social status often impacts identity, and views toward Western superiority. “The lower-middle and lower classesâ€¦had a different perspective on the colonizer’s culture and ways than did the upper classes and the new middle-class intellectuals trained in Western ways,” (Ahmed 1). In other words, social class status is related to affiliation with Western cultural norms. The voices of ordinary, not elite, Muslim women have been systematically silenced.
The silencing of voices is also a critical component in the debate over the veil. As Ceretti points out, “Muslim women have become increasingly important symbols in struggles over war, feminism, immigration, and civil society while rarely having the space to communicate about themselves and their perspectives,” (1). Giving Muslim women the microphone means facing the uncomfortable truth that many Western feminists are loathe to hear: that many Muslim women choose to veil not because they are forced to or because they are oppressed, but because they want to for reasons ranging from personal taste and piety to solidarity and ethnic allegiance. Bullock, a convert to Islam, chooses to veil because of all of these reasons and argues that a new camp of feminism is finally coming to recognize the validity of those voices that have previously been silenced.
There is in fact a call for greater accountability on the part of Western feminists. Western feminists need to be accountable for the truth, and to recognize the ways anti-veil attitudes are colonialist in nature. The desire to “rescue” Muslim women from the veil needs to be reframed as the desire to oppress Muslim women and silence their voices. Muslim women also point out the fallacies perpetrated by the Western media, let alone Western scholasticism. The media has contributed to the anti-veil sentiment by perpetuating the idea that those who wear a head covering of any type are automatically labeled as being ignorant, low class, or oppressed. Often, the opposite is true in which Muslim women are actively choosing to veil as a form of political protest against Western cultural hegemony.
Most Muslim women are perfectly aware of the discomfort their veil causes to Westerners, and may cover their heads purposefully to reveal their solidarity and allegiance with their Muslim sisters. The trend toward voluntary veiling is becoming increasingly common among Muslim women in the United States (Read and Bartkowski). Moreover, the veil has been framed in the media as a symbol of potential danger, as if all veil wearers carry weapons. “Contrary to high-pitched opposition in the media discourse, women who cover their face are happy to lift their veils for identification such as in airports to ensure security” (Janmohamad). Likewise, Asfar notes how Western media is bent on perceiving Muslim women as being oppressed and even “dangerous,” (1).
Clearly, conversation on the veil is becoming richer and filled with the potential to create meaningful social change. As Read and Bartkowski point out, Muslim women who actively choose to veil call attention to the ways “their gender identities reproduce and reformulate existing Muslim gender discourses,” (395). Muslim women are accountable to their communities, and their communities are defined as much by their ethnicity and religion as by their gender. The intersections between race, class, religion, gender, and power are played out in the sense of accountability both Muslim and non-Muslim women have to each other. Veiling challenges non-Muslim women to examine their biases and tendencies to oppress those who are different. The colonialist trend toward “Orientalizing” the East continues, as the veil symbolizes oppression much as foot-binding in China once did. Yet unlike foot binding, the veil is simply a piece of cloth and not something that genuinely restricts human activity.
Western feminists need to become more accountable for perpetuating Islamophobia and Orientalization, as well as the types of divisiveness that can hinder constructive and proactive discourse on peace (Afshar; Ahmed). Women do have allegiances to each other, and are accountable for the way their actions impact those from other racial, ethnic, or status backgrounds. When participants in feminist discourse fail to be accountable, their actions stifle organic growth of ideas and genuine exchanges of truth. By contrast, once participants practice accountability they open the pathway toward mutual respect and understanding.
Feminists use the term “solidarity” without actually applying it to real-world interactions between those from different cultural backgrounds. The third wave of feminism has contended with the domination of feminist discourse by upper class white American women, and the struggle to hear alternative voices continues. To champion the rights of Muslim women to wear the veil in no way condones the actual brutality meted out on women throughout the world, Muslim and non-Muslim. Yet focusing on the veil to the exclusion of real problems does a disservice to all women and all oppressed people around the world. “What is more important is to realize we share more in common in terms of the problems we must tackle together as women. These range from topics as wide and fundamental as poverty, education and legal rights, to access to healthcare, domestic violence,” and more (Janmohamad). The new feminist discourse needs to be more global and inclusive in nature, more open minded, and more dedicated to respect than to divisiveness and symbolic oppression. A fourth wave of feminism will recognize the intersections between race, status, and gender, practice accountability for colonialist attitudes, and reach a new level of solidarity.
Afshar, Haleh. “Can I See Your Hair?” Ethnic and Racial Studies. Vol. 31, No. 2, Feb 2008.
Ahmed, Leila. “The Discourse on the Veil.” In Women and Gender in Islam. Retrieved online: http://www.onbeing.org/program/muslim-women-and-other-misunderstandings/feature/discourse-veil/2224
Al-Sarrani, Abeer and Alghamdi, Alaa. “Through Third World Women’s Eyes.” Analyze. No. 2. Retrieved online: http://www.analize-journal.ro/library/files/alaa.pdf
Bullock, Katherine. Rethinking Muslim Women and the Veil. Herndon, VA: The International School of Islamic Thought.
Ceretti, Josh. “Seeing Muslim Women with Western Eyes.” The Feminist Wire. 2 Aug, 2012. Retrieved online: http://thefeministwire.com/2012/08/seeing-muslim-women-with-western-eyes/
Janmohamed, Shelina Zahra. “Calling All Feminists.” Al Jazeera. 25 Sept 2013. Retrieved online: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/09/calling-all-feminists-get-over-veil-debate-focus-real-problems-201392573343242621.html
Read, Jen’nan and Bartkowski, John P. “The Veil Or Not to Veil?” Gender and Society. Volume 14, No. 3, June 2000.
Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?
Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.
Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.
Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.
While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.
Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.
In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.
Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.
We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!
We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.
Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.
We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.
Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.
There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.
Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.
We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.
You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.
We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.
You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.
Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.
You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.
The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.
Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.
You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.Read more
Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.Read more
Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.Read more
Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.Read more
By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.Read more