an open letter to the patriarchal anomalies guarding my freedom

Dear Society,

What do you want from me? Please, I am very confused and I need some clarification. I feel like I am in a constant battle with you. I feel as though I have to constantly prove myself when I just want to be. Yes I am a Muslim and I have claimed my identity as such, but now I just want to blend in and be normal. I am not saying that I want to take the hijab off, as this would not solve anything. I am saying that I honestly feel that my scarf is the answer to all of your woes; yet you attack it, degrade it and treat it as though putting it on somehow wipes out an individual’s identity. Please, I am sure that if you were to look at the issue of women’s status from my perspective I am sure we could come to some agreement.

I recently watched the “Miss Representation” documentary and I absolutely love it. The premise is this: as women become more affluent in North America, especially in the US, there is always a backlash seen in the media. Art imitates life and throughout the decades we can see how the media has achieved their goals at different stages. For example, the “Leave it to Beaver” era when the war had just ended and the men were coming back and needed to return to the workforce. In such sitcoms homemaking was romanticised. The message to women was “Move aside ladies, even though you have been running the show since we went to war and have proven yourselves more than capable, the big boys are back in town and we want our jobs back!” The Miss Representation commentary on women in the media today is spot on. Women being objectified in commercials or the seemingly catty and selfish nature of women in present day reality TV are just two examples of what’s going on out there. It isn’t pretty.

As I watched this documentary, I could not help but think about hijab. It was seldom shown and was never even thought of as a possible answer. Obviously it is not the norm. When I went to Chapel Hill, North Carolina this summer the only time I saw another hijabi was when I went to the Masjid. This was the case in my own city until just recently.  The scarf has only become a visible entity in the last five years and it is only in the last two or three years that I am seeing hijabi’s around town that I don’t know.

I am a hijabi and have been for seven years. I put it on because I had a strong inclination to it. Anyone who knows me on a personal level will know that although I believe hijab is an important part of modesty I actually wear it as a form of protest against Western society’s unattainable expectations of women. Growing up for me was very difficult. Well actually, the growing up part was easy as it is inevitable; but the emotional changes that came with it weren’t always to my advantage. Since I can remember, I have always been headstrong and opinionated. That is why when I was fifteen I shaved my head. A lot of people thought I was being a rebellious teenager, and to a point they would be right. But during that whole “phase” only a handful of people asked me why and so I told them: “I don’t want people to see me for my beauty. I want to be appreciated for my mind and the way I think and that I am an intelligent person with something to say.” But of course people just assumed I was nuts and moved on. Now that I am older many people, Western women especially, wonder why on earth I would “choose” to wear hijab? The answer is simple, and honestly it has not changed since I was fifteen. I want people to see me as a whole person. I am not my hair or my eyes or my legs. I am whole and I am perfect just the way I am.

I am sure people are reading this thinking…. “um Islam is a patriarchal religion!”  Really? Who classified it as such? Did the prophet (SWS) ever say such a thing? No. I am in no way a scholar nor do I see myself as particularly knowledgeable in any way, but please consider this:

  1. Women do not have to work.
  2. If they do work, the money they make is theirs to spend on whatever they want. The only time the husband can legally step in is if she is doing something haram with her money, for instance, buying drugs or alcohol or gambling. Another reason might be if she has a shopping addiction.
  3. If a wife demands a maid or another type of domestic help, the husband must oblige her; and
  4. Women govern most, if not all decisions in the family. True, the husband has the final say but let’s be honest, women will “voice” their opinion until they get their way.

A woman’s only obligation is to raise her children to be strong, independent, moral and knowledgeable Muslims. Contrary to what most people think, it is not her duty to cook and clean. Rather, these are considered sadaqa, or something extra. Nowhere in the Sunnah or in the Quran does it say that a woman must do these things. So I ask you, does this sound like a patriarchy to you?

Knowing all of this I wonder when women are going to rise up against the media and say no to the gender scripts imposed on us by the patriarchal ideologies governing this beautiful land?

My girl Brooke Van Buskirk ❤

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19 responses to “an open letter to the patriarchal anomalies guarding my freedom

  • Creative Metaphor

    I did much the same thing in high school – I wore sweatshirts that were 3 sizes too big because I didn’t want the boys to see my body, just me.

    • sabr33n

      Salam! It’s funny that many converts I know say the same thing. What can I say? Fitrah!

      • Creative Metaphor

        Oh, actually I’m not Muslim, I’m just a woman who feels (and has always felt) very strongly about covering my body. I am likewise unable to grasp how something that should be so fundamental to a woman’s right – her *clothing* – can be seen as so threatening to someone else!

  • Miss Direkshun

    mashallah sister, that was an amazing post!!

  • Miss Direkshun

    Reblogged this on Muslimah Directions and commented:
    Mashallah this post is amazing! jazakallah khayr to the sister who wrote it! chack out her blog too!

  • Unknow Truth

    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

    It is not bad, but with one big flaw….and that is ‘I’….there is no ‘I’ in Mūʾmin’s (i.e. firm believer) life. If one think like this way (i.e. ‘I’…’I’….and ‘I’), she can become good muslim but not good Mūʾmina. The both of your blogs has essence of complain and it seem like some one is only with ‘I’…’I’ and ‘I’.

    ‘I’ can only make individual not nation…..you know what my mean!

    We need to change our thinking direction from attributable Muslim to responsible Mūʾmin.

    Tauhid, Salat, Suam, Zakat, Hajid are the attribute of the Muslim but the responsibilities of Mūʾmin is:

    KUNTUM KHAIRA UMMATIN UKHRIJAT LINNAS. TA’AMORUNA BIL MA’AROF-E-WA TANHAUNA UNIL MUNKAR

    Again with ‘I’….’I’….and ‘I’ only Individual can be created not Ummath .

  • Maryam Hajar

    Jazak Allah khair for this article. We may all say this is a religion that offers more rights to women than other patriarchal religions, but these are fine words which are not put into practice. Culture has intercepted this idea/teaching…and women are delegated to the ‘back of the bus’ within the present day Ummah. This is a great lecture on this topic: http://www.ristalks.com/details.php?v=51
    Wassalam

    • sabr33n

      Salam Maryam, I couldn’t agree with you more. That is why at the end of the article I said this “Knowing all of this I wonder when women are going to rise up against the media and say no to the gender scripts imposed on us by the patriarchal ideologies governing this beautiful land?” That isn’t only for non muslims it is also for Muslim women who feel as though it is their duty to mindlessly do what men say because they were told to.

      100% agree, more Muslims need to start putting theory into practice.

  • Viara Mileva

    Oooh, thanks for the thought-provoking post 🙂 I, too, was a cover-yourself-up-and-wear-manly-clothes/cut-your-hair-short-in-rebellion type of kid in high school. As you know. I am not sure I did it because I wanted people to see *me*, but perhaps.

    However, when I read your line, “I want people to see me as a whole person. I am not my hair or my eyes or my legs. I am whole and I am perfect just the way I am.” I was curious.

    If wearing hijab makes you different, then is it not the case that all people see when they look at you is your hijab? Haven’t you then walked in to the very thing you were trying to prevent? That is, people *not* seeing you for who you really are, but rather stereotyping you based on preconceptions.

    I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, I love you and I’m curious + love these types of debates 🙂

    • sabr33n

      I think you were just doing it because you were cool ❤
      Verchai, I am sorry I didn't respond until now… I am super busy with school. Yes, you are right. I am in a catch 22. The difference is that I believe that I have to wear the scarf which is different from shaving my head. I am not saying that a thunder bolt will strike me down if I don't wear it, but I feel very connected to it. In the Quran it is mentioned as being an indicator of your faith, to let people know that I am a Muslim.
      Unfortunately the scarf does make people uneasy because they many don't understand it or they have their ideas about it. But that is why I have to be a good Muslim so that I can be a proper representation of the religion and not just some crazy head. (although let's face it… I am who I am)
      Verchai I am not offended at all. I love you ❤
      (I hope I answered this)

  • Unknow Truth

    Response for the video: Carefully listen to the answer of Fatima bintey Muhammad (PBUH):

    And think do we really want the same gift like Fatima (RSA) or we want 7,243 hits on video.

    [We have to say truth and truth hurts]

  • brenda anderson

    Hello you wonderful women. Congratulations on such a beautiful video. Thank you for your skinnyjeanrant!! Well put!

  • Albert Lavis

    This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I’ve joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your great post. Also, I have shared your website in my social networks!

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