An Open Letter From A Hijab

Dear Media Feminist, Bandwagon Feminist, Politician, Educator, and the Lady Who Works The 4-6 PM Shift at Isetan,

I am a symbol. I am not target practice.  I acknowledge your strong aversion to me. I am also aware of the many connotations I come with, in your minds.

It is for the same reason you are allowed these opinions, that I am faced with questions of “restricting women” and “holding them back”. While I applaud your efforts in raising concerns on nonexistent grounds, I’d also like to make it clear that every time you raise your voice against me, everyone I care about feels like a patient that’s been denied a life-saving surgery by people with no knowledge about healthcare and hospitals.
It really sucks.

I hear about the prevalence of victim shaming; where women are blamed for an assaulter’s actions because of their clothing or hair and makeup choices. Yet in the universe, I am trapped in, everyone questions and harasses me for not exposing enough. Over the years, I’ve understood that your noble decision to “liberate” women comes with the undercurrent of leaving nothing to the imagination. How lucky am I, to have heroes like you fight for my repression and the subsequent sexualization of women. This is surely the stuff of nightmares!

I don’t need your saving. My presence is not a lady’s cry for help, nor is it a symbol of patriarchy and brainwashing. Nobody is waiting for you to jump in and save the day because believe it or not, women want to don me. It’s helpful if you learn sooner rather than later that your skewed outlook on liberty is not shared by the whole world.

I don’t need your pseudo-intellectual rationale. I need respect.

In this day and age, where the female gender is pretty much objectified and treated as a sex symbol and where women all over the world are feasted upon by lecherous eyes, my presence offers  women dignity in pretty much the same way my cousins, the coif and veil  function in the christian world. 

Use your energy to help the women that are forced to leave me behind as they enter their workplace because I am not accepted. Use it to train your employees against ignoring people when I am present. Don’t trap the ones that wear me in a choice between freedom and safety in their own country when just across the Straits of Johor, I exist as a symbol of dignity and empowerment that is proudly donned at work - on the streets and everywhere else.

If you consider Ibtihaj Mohammed, Halima Aden or even Mdm Halima Yacob you’ll find that they have one thing in common: me. If Ibtihaj can fence in the Olympics, Halima can win a beauty pageant and Mdm Yacob can become the president of our increasingly powerful nation, you certainly cannot point your finger at me with a vendetta.

So if you are here to free the world of me, I’m afraid I have to shatter your preconceived notions and prejudice. The government has started making amends by entertaining the notion of me at a workplace. Yet I know that I can’t seek refuge in a Constitution where  people still treat me differently. Please stop elbowing me out of the way to sit on your moral high horse, and start committing to actually saving the values you claim to champion.

Your idealism is not anybody’s path to salvation.

(not) Yours,

A Hijab (n.): a head covering, symbol of Islamic Faith that shouldn’t be the focus of your witch-hunt.

[Ed Note:  This article is drafted by Zakkiethunnisa. Final cut by Sanjana Subramanian. If the likes of Kadra Mohamed can serve at the front line in the Minnesota, I am sure our officers can carry out their duties without being impeded by the Hijab. This humble attempt to carry the cause of the inclusion of the hijab is conceptualised by Thinesh Kurunathan.]

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