Hijab as a symbol of solidarity?

Italian translation here.

So, this was started by this video, realised by My Stealthy Freedom.


Video which as you can see I cannot post here because it’s on Facebook. At any rate, it shows some Muslims women putting hijabs made out of the American flag around the head of some men and women, at the Women’s March, on the 21st of January 2017.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this. Not about giving women the freedom to not wear the hijab if they don’t want to, about that I have no mixed feelings at all: one must be free to decide whether they want or not a piece of cloth on their head.

I’m not sure if that’s true solidarity or not. Gut feeling? I think it isn’t.
I was very happy to see women wearing hijabs taking part at the recent Women’s March. It’s a good thing that Muslim women get supported, especially with a racist misogynist kid in power in the US, and I did appreciate that one of the images symbol of the Women’s March was a woman wearing a hijab.


And moreover, Muslim women really have a lot to march for. However, I don’t think we can gloss over the fact that the hijab is compulsory and a symbol of oppression in many situations.
Obviously, if the woman involved has freely decided to wear it, it’s not an oppression. But we just can’t forget all the cases in which it wasn’t a free decision; that would be actually really demeaning towards those women facing that oppression.

When I ponder over cases like these, which are extremely touchy, I often compare them to my support for BDSM and my will to spread information and acceptance about it. I’m a passionate kinkster, and one of my favourite game is rape play. Yes, now you know, you’re welcome. And not only that too, violence generally is my thing, plus a big amount of domination/submission. Let’s say I go to a march celebrating different sexual preferences, and I take part in it as a kinkster (yes, there are BDSM marches, usually together with the gay pride marches). Let’s say I then proceed to illustrate rape play to some people, maybe especially women; I could hand out flyers or things like that. I should definitely be expected to underline consent, right? Because a lot of women are raped, because it’s not a sporadic crime committed by some random delinquent, it’s a systematic oppression, right? Right. So I would be an asshole if I didn’t underline consent, and if I didn’t make extremely clear that rape is rape, and it’s shit, while play rape is a game between consenting adults. So I couldn’t simply gloss over the matter, like whoopsy sorry I didn’t remember of sexism. Right.
And indeed, at least from my experience if you speak with kinksters there’s this mantra going around: safe sane and consensual.

Now, I realise this comparison is a little bit stretched: rape play is a way more intimate and delicate thing than wearing a hijab. Still, I think that in both cases we cannot leave out of the question consent and oppression.
If those people wearing the hijab were fully aware that in many situations it constitutes oppression and if there was a general consensus about that, then I’d say there’s nothing wrong. If they, fully aware, felt like wearing the hijab, then let them do it. And I really cannot know if that was the case because, people, I cannot know everything now.

Still, I do have the impression, as I said in the beginning, that it was done in a light-hearted way. As it was done during the World Hijab Day of some time ago, or when posting pictures of you with an hijab went viral for a period, in order to show solidarity to Muslim. Let’s be clear, if one wants to wear a hijab because they really feel like it, all right. But in order to show solidarity? It doesn’t raise awareness. It doesn’t spread information. It doesn’t help oppressed Muslim women. And it doesn’t sound like an overall liberating act to me.

It’s not a tragedy, but I’m really not sure that people superficially wearing  hijabs to show solidarity to Muslim women is the best idea of the century. Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s a bad idea.


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