Hijab: Empowerment or Oppression? Ed. Vivienne Layne
May 1, 2013 § Leave a comment
I found this zine from 2007 when looking for zines about Muslim culture to offer as part of our Muslim Journeys activities this year. I found it during a visit to Barnard College’s zine library and received permission from the editor Vivienne Layne and Barnard’s zine librarian Jenna Freedman to add it to our zine collection here at CLP. I find this zine really wonderful. Vivienne interviewed six other Muslim high school girls living in New York City like herself, three of whom were born here in the U.S. and three of whom were born in other countries. She asked them primarily about their thoughts and feelings about wearing or not wearing the hijab or Muslim veil. Their perspectives are varied, which I think accurately reflects the complexity of the issue.
Some of the girls found it freeing or empowering to wear the hijab. One young woman talks about advertising in the U.S. dictating “how a woman should be, ‘she should be thin, she should be tall, she should be you know a sex symbol’, they portray her as a sex symbol and that’s like just degrading a woman but in Islam you know it puts women in a very high place. When she’s covered it shows that she’s well respected, that you know she’s someone and not an anything, she’s not a sex symbol for you…” Another young woman says, “I don’t choose to wear it because I personally don’t need it to identify myself as a Muslim. I think I can be just as great a Muslim as one who does wear it.” She also asks the girls about reactions to women in veils after 9/11, the 2004 French ban on all forms of head coverings and their thoughts on a Muslim Barbie doll that wears a hijab. Wonderfully smart and enlightening zine! I have felt irritated when I hear people who are not Muslim women expressing their opinions on whether or not Muslim women should wear a veil, and I very much appreciated hearing these young women talk about making their own choices about it, for themselves.