The Veil

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Why are modern Muslim women adopting the veil, hijab or turban even when their mothers did not wear it? How does veiling shape the identity of these Muslim women? Is such voluntary modern veiling necessarily more oppressive than the pressure Western women are under to always dress up, look good, feminine and desirable as they walk out of their front doors? Discuss with reference to literature on Muslim women in Western minority situations and/or in predominantly Muslim countries. Refer to essential and further readings for weeks 8, and 9 in the Reader. The full reading list is also placed on MyLO in a folder titled Study Guide.

Throughout much of Western Europe, the United States and to some degree Australia, there exists a passionate dispute, a dispute which, remarkably orientates around the subject of women’s clothing. At first glance it is difficult to believe that what appears such an inconsequential matter of attire could bring about such unrest and political debate, nether the less this deeply polarised issue has managed to divide communities, activate policy-makers, engage religious leaders and send an uncomfortable schism throughout feminist ideologues. For the purpose of this essay I will use the word ‘veil’ rather than ‘Hijab, Turban, Burqa or Niqab, since the arguments are in effect about displays of bodily coverings: Where needed there will be an indication of specific coverings. The veil has ignited a quandary which all too often poses more questions than answers. Answers will be given however to the subject of why modern Muslim women in Western minority situations are willingly adopting the veil, even when their mothers did not wear it, and how veiling inevitably shapes the identity of these Muslim women. This paper will argue that such voluntary modern veiling is more about expression than oppression, in addition it will be asserted that the veil represents a liberating and agentic symbol standing in defiance of a majority status that



References: Ahmed, L. (2011). A quiet revolution: The veil 's resurgence, from the Middle East to America. New Haven: Yale University Press. Ahmed, Q. (2008). In the land of invisible women: A female doctor 's journey in the Saudi Kingdom. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks. BBC. (2006, May 10). Straw 's veil comments spark anger. BBC News. Retrieved May 14, 2012, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/5410472.stm Bokker, S Gimlin, D. (2000). Cosmetic Surgery: Beauty as Commodity. QUALITATIVE SOCIOLOGY, 21(1). doi: 10.1023/A:1005455600571 Göle, N Göle, N. (2008, February 21). The Immanent Frame. A Headscarf Affair, a Women’s Affair? «. Retrieved May 15, 2012, from http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2008/02/21/a-headscarf-affair-a-womens-affair/ Goffman, E Goffman, E. (1999). Presentation of self in everyday life. [S.l.]: Peter Smith Pub. Koonz, C. (2009, March 12). The Muslim Headscarf in Europe: Veiled Threat or Religious Freedom? YouTube. Retrieved May 14, 2012, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOF1WkoJk5M Lin, N Pedwell, C. (2008). Weaving relational webs: Theorizing cultural difference and embodied practice. Feminist Theory, 9(1), 87-107. doi: 10.1177/1464700107086365 Ridley Scott, J. W. (2007). The politics of the veil. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Shcharansky, A., Weiss, S. W., & Dermer, R. (2009). Defending identity: Its indispensable role in protecting democracy. New York: PublicAffairs. Taylor, P. (1994, November/December). Hijab Battles Around the World. Islamic Horizons Magazine. Retrieved May 14, 2012, from http://www.themodernreligion.com/women/hijab-world.htm Toynbee, P Toynbee, P. (2006, October 16). Only a fully secular state can protect women 's rights. The Guardian. Retrieved May 16, 2012, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/oct/17/comment.politics3 Winter, B Winter, B. (2008). Hijab & the republic: Uncovering the French headscarf debate. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. Wolf, N. (1991). The beauty myth: How images of beauty are used against women. New York, NY: W. Morrow. Wolf, N. (1991). The beauty myth: How images of beauty are used against women. New York: W. Morrow. Woodhead, L. (2007). The Muslim Veil Controversy and European Values (Doctoral dissertation, Lancaster University, 2007) [Abstract].

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