Veil – Private or Public Matter???
Ever came across debates on why or why not to wear jeans, socks or may be shoes? The question might appear to hit the highest point of hilarity, but seriously, the discussion ad nauseam on ‘To wear or not to wear veil’, and what sort of reaction it reaps from different segments of society, has made it a dilemma worst than Hamlet’s and made me wonder what a strange set of species we are.
Honestly, is that a complex screaming out loud or an agenda to put up or fight off a certain image stereotype of oneself? Where the advocates of liberalism staunchly endorse the idea that what one chooses to wear is purely a matter of personal discretion, and any attempts to impute influence over one’s choice is but a brute breach of privacy, why then we see a spate of articles and blogs cashing in on discussions on repercussions or non-repercussions wearing a certain garment has, on one’s outlook.
Whether you call Niqab an assertion of patriarchy that needs to be fought against or a tool to exhibit modesty, the truth is, it is a still a ‘choice’ made by an individual that needs to be respected and so any commentary on it needs to be snubbed and returned with thanks.
Recently, the so-called modernists who decide to talk about women wearing hijab with subtle hints of speaking about a kind that has landed straight from the stone-age, or a bunch of alien forms who need to be‘humanized’, should know that picking them up as subjects of a discussion or analysis is precisely what is ‘de-humanizing’ them. Is it too novel a notion to understand? We all see how children behave the moment mothers begin talking about them in public. It irritates and annoys them to strange extremes. And here, our women adhering to certain ideological principles, which you and I might not agree with, are made the center of discussions every now and then and on several public platforms.
It’s ironic still how the proponents of feminist rights use the very gender, only to earn popularity and fame for themselves. Yet, if it’s really hard to function without sensationalizing your content, try issues like, ‘why men should/should not wear Shalwar Kameez at work place?’, or perhaps, ‘Is it okay for men to roam about on streets in knickers?’ No? Why not? Because it may not bring half as much fun and views as debating and scrutinizing women’s choices of dressing would.
Talking about free choices, isn’t it too subjective an ideal to discuss? Rationally speaking, our choices are never really independent of socio-political elements around us. Why Pakistani women have almost abandoned shalwars for trousers, tights or capris? Is that a free choice? I don’t think so. I know if I don’t attire in a certain fashion, I’ll be slighted by the society as an old-line and conventional creature. And so if following a certain fashion influences the way people evaluate me as a person, can we then really call my wearing capris a free choice? If not, then one should not go on about criticizing people’s choices as no choice at all, only because in their opinion they are not free.
The discussion here is not whether wearing Niqab or veil is right or not, the question is, where the need to discuss it comes from in the first place? Who has given me the right to pick up someone’s dress choices and trialing them on a public platform or even glossing over it in any which way. It should be none of anyone’s business and one should instead mind one’s own. You can’t demand the right to live the way you want to and with respect, without granting the other the same.