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 Well, In This Case, the Hijab Is Oppressive

Posted by Matt Zeitlin on December 17, 2007


Tracy Clark Flory’s video, defending her recent post taking a “maybe it’s oppressive, maybe it isn’t” line on the alleged hijab-inspired honor killing in Canada is fairly weak. Her argument is, on some level, almost obviously true. The hijab can be oppressive, and it could not be oppressive, and she would rather not make a judgment in this particular case because she’s a “shades of gray” type of girl.

But let’s take it as a given that this 16 year old was killed because she refused to wear a hijab, and more generally, refused to follow her families cultural strictures on proper dress and behavior for a young woman. Then, we could perfectly confident in making the argument that the hijab is oppressive, as is the whole host of cultural mores that deem women to be the property of their family, and that their sexuality is dangerous. I don’t really see why we need to recognize any shades of gray or why we need to hold out the possibility that the hijab could be empowering in some instances. In instances where not wearing it leads to murder at the hands of one’s own father, it’s pretty unambiguous that, indeed, clothing mandates with the purpose of expressing ownership over women’s sexuality are, in fact, horribly oppressive.


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