(hasty blog alert)
I admit to having an emotional first reaction to the niquab.
It is not of my culture, and it does, visually, represent to me all the things that I as a western feminist have worked to overcome.
Or does it?
I know women who feel it is their right to wear skimpy clothes, show their bras as part of their ensemble, wear tiny skirts, and bare their cleavage.
I admit to having an emotional reaction to that as well. Dressing so skimpily represents to me all the things that I, as a western feminist, have worked to overcome.
Or does it?
I choose to dress conservatively, but I would be livid if someone told me to wear a longer skirt OR a shorter skirt. Fundamentally it is my choice. I choose a hem length to balance what I want to say about myself and about how I view myself in relation to the world around me. I love clothes, and I love feeling attractive. But I most definitely do not like sensing that men are imagining me in ways that I would never in reality consent to. Naked. With them. In their sight at all, really. So I balance wanting to look like a beautiful woman with my distaste for being sexualized. And that balance is a very personal one.
That balance is a very personal one for every woman.
My choices are influenced by my upbringing, my dad, my mom, my Sunday School classes, my friends, my husband… But saying that the choice is influenced is very different from saying I do not have free choice.
I assume this is the case with almost all women. There are women who feel pressured to dress sexy for their significant others. There are women who feel pressured to cover up for their significant others.
But we aren’t going to mitigate that by being yet another party in that woman’s life to pressure her to conform to an outside (outside her own head and body) definition of what is, or what is not, acceptable when it comes to how she clothes herself.
My emotional reaction to her choices, her emotional reactions to my choices, do not matter. What matters is that logic dictates that the choice be hers.
Our laws protect her freedom to choose. What she chooses must always be left up to her. And to me.