Week 10: On Reclaiming the Hijab

This digital media piece was inspired by the piece Unveiling Scheherezade: Feminist Orientalism in the International Alliance of Women by Charlotte Weber.  This piece, to me, was an extension of a point made in lecture this week that really struck me and stuck to me: that the role of the hijab as a form of oppression is a product of the male-dominated Muslim societies impacted by imperialism, in which such measures for women are mandated. Weber goes into this, as represented by the left half of the piece: in her argument, she discusses how males of these Muslim societies both are able to oppress women and fetishize women through such a measure, shown through the trope present in literature of women in harems wearing veils, secluded from society due to qualities they associate with women – sensuality, eroticism, and exoticism, which are represented by the some of the phrases found on the left side. Orientalism is also included as a term on this side, in response to an important point Weber made emphasizing the complicity of Western women in this fetishization of Eastern Muslim women through the perpetuation of such tropes, contributing to their oppression by these terms. This is important, as it directly addresses the Western perception that is often perpetuated that the veil itself is oppressing the women who wear it, when the more nuanced point is that it is the societal views of women in these particular societies as a result of misogyny and colonialism that causes this oppression. The right side of this piece, as a result, seeks to reclaim the hijab, allowing women who wear one to define their rationale on their own terms: as a form of resistance against global Eurocentric tendencies, as a form of religious expression and freedom, as a form of nationalism, and through reclaiming these definitions for themselves, as an expression of feminism. This is also particularly important, as it shows that Islam and feminism are not mutually exclusive.

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