If Headscarf is “Normalized”, Why am I Going Through All of These

When will we be able to live without having to pay a disproportionately high price for our choices in life?

Guest Writer: Mavi

“Society – a hell full of saviors!” -E.M. the Ciaro

I’m going to be twenty-six in a few months. I’ve been wearing the headscarf for eleven years now. In the last few years, I’ve spent a serious amount of emotional and intellectual energy over the headscarf. I wish I could say that this energy was devoted exclusively to a personal journey that consist of readings and questionings about headscarf. This kind of individuality is my ideal and my need. However, the reality is that headscarf is nailed on the center of my life because of the so-called pious, conservative Muslims’ endless delirium over it. Whereas we were speaking of “normalization”/ “destigmatization” of the headscarf, right?

If for a woman to cover or uncover her head had actually been normalized, we would not need to speak about it. We would not be subjected to such judgement about the way we cover from people in streets, in subway, in school and in our families. People would not try to exact on the “proper” hijab. We would not be despised and accused of abandoning religion just because we do not comply with “their” standards of covering. You will understand what I mean better if you’re following a couple of women who wears headscarf on Instagram. Just recall the dreadful comments under the posts that you probably came across several times…

That is why, contrary to the general discourse, I do not think that our society is normalized on the issue of headscarf. For me, the headscarf struggle is now a struggle I have to give against the conservatives rather than the state who imposed secularism for years. Some religious people seem to make younger generation pay the cost of the social traumas related to the headscarf. They expect their struggles for living their religion to be remembered and appreciated all the time. Yet, they are not interested in understanding the different experiences and various concerns of the new generation.

They fail to accept the fact that women with headscarves do not constitute a homogenous community. Just as the members of any other social category, women with headscarf do not share the same life style, religious stand, political view and the way of dressing! The older generation seems to want headscarf to be an existential issue and the biggest social struggle for every Muslim woman…

You can imagine how disappointing all this is. I started to spend a significant portion of my time thinking about how to protect my personality, my choices, my religious understanding, my lifestyle and my clothing style from the harassment of Muslims.

I find myself trying to calculate the “earthquakes” that will occur in my life if I want to wear my headscarf in a different way one day, trying to convince myself that I am brave enough… To be honest, I am not sure if I want the wear the headscarf anymore. But I see that my choices have created and will create disproportionate burdens in my life. In the words of Feyza Akınerdem, when will we be able to live without having to pay a very high price for our choices in life?

I have to clarify that I do not see myself as a victim when evaluating what I have experienced. Life is more complicated than that. I find the reasons of the problems I have been experiencing regarding hijab in my own preferences, their indirect consequences, my environment, society and fate simultaneously. I believe I can solve these problems. I believe in praying. But on the other hand, I know that I have lost certain things.

My belief in the possibility that two people can really hear each other with an open heart is shaken. I no longer need to explain myself. On the one hand, this strengthened me. On the other hand, it made me feel numb. I no longer pay attention to the criticisms I once took seriously in the hope of making use of it. Society that tries to suppress me has left me with no choice but to be pugnacious. I’m no longer discussing my decisions.

My “highly educated” and “informed” pious brothers and sisters who think that they “save me” by violating my individual space. I hope one day you will conclude that to idolize the headscarf is problematic in terms of faith and societal wellbeing. The way to higher morals and becoming a better person goes through good will and humbleness, not through judging people’s faith based on their appearance with a feeling of superiority. We Muslims should have been avoiding this arrogance most. Yet, we consistently fail to do so. We need self-criticism and public dialog.

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