The Veil Paradox: Scattered thoughts of an Egyptian feminist

I recall when I was kid that I perceived the headscarf as an eccentric phenomenon. I saw a lot of women wearing it, heard a lot of people advocating it or else you are doomed yet some completely rejecting it. I noticed its existence all around me in the streets, yet noticed its absence from the media. There was always this image of privileged, or elitist women all in the media even with female officials in senior positions. This disparity struck me.
Growing up, I started to observe what I start to be aware of as a social phenomenon. I dealt with both camps, if I may use the term camps, the pro-veil camp mostly judge you and your religiosity based on it. If you take it off, you are doomed, religiously, morally, and even socially. The not favouring veil camp often regard it as a sign of backwardness, or inferiority. I’m simplifying both views, they are a lot more complex but I’m trying to be short while tackling the main views. Both were or are not really accepting of me whether veiled or not veiled but let’s face it they were not accepting anyone but who is similar to them. The media was not often inclusive of the veil for political causes no need to tackle now but in short it reinforced judgments in a classist impoverished society.
It remains rather interesting to me is how both camps glorify their struggle claiming the other’s inferiority. Each camp view their struggle as the ultimate one while denounce the other’s. The irony is I believe they have a lot more in common than they think. Both act as if they are morally higher or more enlightened. The most striking similarity is that both camps in fact objectify women and deprive them from sovereignty over their bodies. This is quite ironic since the origin of both stances, aside from religious ones, is supposedly defying objectification by as not submit to society’s beauty standards or not to submit to covering themselves cause of others. It is funny how the a considerable segment of the society misses the point of the real reasons of doing stuff and end up just focusing on the social image, and definitely judging people accordingly.
I’m in no way generalising, this definitely does not represent everyone, but these are samples of mentalities I have encountered.
The thing we miss is that one can have a personal opinion and act upon, you most certainly have the right you but in no way it gives you the right to judge anyone else’s decision.


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