Friday, July 27, 2007

The Wrong Impression

At yet another wedding, I met a couple of friends (that do not wear the headscarf) that I had not seen in many months. One of my mom's friends saw me and said with surprise, "You're wearing hijab!" I smiled but was flooded with a sudden self-consciousness and blurted out, "My husband made me do it." Then we all had a big laugh. Hahaha. Then I think there was some mention of hijab being a good thing, and how I have a good husband.

Later...I came home and was thinking, "Why oh why in the world did I say that?"

First of all, it's so not true. My husband just encouraged me and said I would not regret it if I tried wearing the headscarf--and he was right. But he did not force me or "make me" do it at all. And secondly, 'why oh why oh why' did I--someone who is supposed to be somewhat intelligent in her awareness of stereotypes and prejudice and who is adamantly against perpetuating such falsehoods--especially the one that women who wear the hijab/headscarf are submissive to and oppressed by their husbands blurt out such a silly comment? What was I thinking? And what was I not thinking?!

I think the reasons were, as I've mentioned in a previous post (re: I'm Nobody)...
1) some kind of resistance to wanting to seem self-righteous or 'better' than those who do not cover up. So I "blamed" it on my husband, something that in itself works for me with other Muslim people because then they get the (very true) impression that my husband is a religious man. And I think I want the world to know how devout he is, especially the Muslim world of my little community, because my husband is a convert/revert to Islam, and both my family and I want the community to know that yes, my husband is a true follower of Islam, which somehow validates my controversial, rare, and curious marriage to an American.
2) Part of it was my insecurity about choosing an "old-fashioned" (stereotype) and "unfashionable" (stereotype) way of dress and lifestyle amid a crowd of the glitz and glamour and pain-staking beauty that surrounded me. I think I felt plain and out-of-the-fashion-loop when I walked into the sea of lovely fabrics and glittering stones and iron-pressed, lovely hair.

Still, I regret saying what I did. And will try not to do that anymore. Because even though those people were Muslim, and even though they left with the good impression of my pious husband, somewhere in their minds is the idea that I, a Muslim woman, was forced to cover her hair by her husband--something that might possibly be a reason they do not want to cover up in hijab, as it was a reason for me--that association with being oppressed or dictated too. I regret saying it, even if it was a joke.

My husband didn't make me. He helped me. And I thank him for that. And I'm still surprised at how such a simple scarf can be attached to such complicated feelings.


Jesmi said...

Hijab is a very good dress for Muslim ladies.

Anonymous said...

We all have our days, don't beat yourself up.

It's so interesting to hear your dilemmas with wearing hijab, because headcovering Christians not living in closed communities (Amish, Mennonites,etc.) feel the same way,believe me. Some days I feel like someone out of the old testament and other times I wouldn't have it any other way.