Sunday, January 21, 2018

An American Hijabi

as given to us by Madison Avenue (2017)
The sexy hijabi is new to American popular culture.

Due to the rise of contemporary political Islam, and mass Muslim immigration into the West, the hijab is now a highly-charged cultural symbol.

For many American and western Muslim women, it is simply a matter of ethnic identity and faith. In that way, it is not so different than a Jew wearing a kippa or a Shield of David pendant on a silver chain.

Among hip and hypocritical, white, western-progressives, such as Linda Sarsour, the hijab represents freedom, because it represents resistance to the wrong kind of white people.

For Iranian feminists, on the other hand - those who are facing true totalitarianism and who are putting their lives on the line in the face of actual oppression - the hijab represents the very misery that western-feminists see as benign inclusivity.

Jewish people - given our history under centuries of Arab and Muslim oppression - sometimes think of the hijab as a symbol of hatred toward us and the submission of women

But for Madison Avenue, it is just pure gold.

If you Google Image the word "hijab" - at least on my laptop, on this day - the first page is filled with pictures of beautiful women, such as the sexy American hijabi on the upper left of your screen.

{Now that is one hot hijabi mama.}

The Nike Hijabi
There is also the Nike Hijab... "a performance hijab for Muslim women athletes"... for when you want to go running in Central Park or the Golden Gate Park Panhandle.

The inspiration for the Nike Hijab came from US fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad who is the first Muslim American woman to wear the traditional patriarchal head-covering during Olympic tournament play and who earned a bronze medal for Team USA.

She is also the inspiration for the Hijabi Barbie doll as Christine Hauser informs us in the New York Times.

This is interesting from a human rights standpoint because the hijab, whatever else it may be, is a symbol of oppression to millions of women around the world.

The reason that women throughout Iran are waving their hijabs before western cameras is in the hope that European and American and Australian feminists will stand up with them against a sexist, theocratic regime.

Iranian women remove their hijabs in defiance
But the western-left simply does not see it that way because western-feminists do not care about non-western patriarchy.

What they seem to care about are "pussy hats" and safe spaces and trigger warnings and gender-neutral pronouns.

So, no such luck, Iranian women.

Western women, particularly western feminists, do not stand with you.

That is, western-feminism is no longer about feminism at all, nor about universal human rights.

In the 1990s, the feminist-left stood up against the Taliban in Afghanistan, but those days are long gone.

During the Women's March, from last year, directly after the election of Donald Trump, American women donned the hijab as a symbol of solidarity with their Muslim sisters throughout the world.

Perhaps the foremost symbol of that march is an image of a young woman, possibly based on Linda Sarsour, in a hijab comprised of stars and stripes.

Women's March Poster (2017)
The basic, most sincere idea behind those who waved that USA hijabi symbol is that all Americans are Americans.

The hijab can easily be thought of us representing the American ideal of inclusivity.

The United States is a nation of nations.

And the most forward-thinking of us - the most progressive of us - want greater inclusivity because, unless we are indigenous to the Americas, all of our ancestors came from elsewhere.

This is Basic USA Thinking 101.

But what does it mean when, in the name of inclusivity and diversity, western-feminists embrace a symbol like the hijab which Iranian women are ridding themselves of as an act of defiance against an oppressive and patriarchal system?

How is it that the western-left - which tells the world that it stands for social justice and universal human rights - embraces a symbol that represents the opposite of those ideals?

In the United States many women who don the hijab, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, usually do so as a matter of choice. For many devout Muslim American women, the hijab is not so much about submitting to a decrepit theocratic-patriarchal system as it is about human modesty and respect for the deity. Some Jewish women, after all, wear headdresses and for much the same reasons.

Nonetheless, the hijab has now become a fashionable symbol that stands at a cultural crossroad between the American ethos of ethnic inclusivity and the illiberal ethos of female oppression as generated by the Islamic faith.

Thus the sexy hijabi has many faces.

She is simultaneously an image of western openness to people from other cultures while also representing, and thereby promoting, the oppression of women within an Islamic context.

Furthermore, of course, for many people, the hijab represents a symbol not only of oppression of Muslim women but also of the oppression of Jews under thirteen centuries of Arab and Muslim imperial rule in the Middle East from the time of Muhammad until the demise of the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

The hijab as a symbol of oppression is concretized for Jewish people when hijabis screech "Alahu Akbar!" at Jewish people visiting the Temple Mount for the purpose of driving us away.

But the hijab as a contradictory and even malicious symbol in western cultural politics is perhaps no more on display than it is in the current Revlon kerfuffle.

Revlon, of course, is a well-known western corporation that sells makeup and other beauty and skin-care products.

The company recently offered the semi-hip American blogger Amani Al-Khatahtbeh their "Changemaker Award" - whatever that is, exactly - but the hijabi hipster refused the honor due to the fact that Revlon also employs Israeli actress Gal Gadot, of Wonder Woman fame, as a corporate spokesmodel.

Gal Gadot, of course, is a Jewish Israeli who served in the IDF, as do almost all Jewish Israeli kids, because their Arab neighbors force them to do so. Unlike western college students, if young Jewish Israelis wish to see their future children survive they must defend themselves and their families and their country in national service... and that goes for Wonder Woman as much as it goes for any other Jewish Israeli girl.

Unlike their soft and spoiled and obnoxious college-aged western critics, Jewish Israeli kids have to put their necks on the line in defense of their families and friends.

When I was growing up among the pugnacious, skateboarding, late twentieth-century East Coast American middle-class kids in our Keds and Adidas, we called antisemitism racism and the American left hated it.

Now it's called cool and they love it.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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