Guest blog from a lady making a welcome return to Twitter
I decided to come back on Twitter recently after taking a couple of years away. I came back on a few days after the Grenfell Tower Tragedy.
One of the very first tweets I saw about the Grenfell Tower went along the lines of “That’s a few less immigrants to take care of…”
Correct me if I am wrong but there were humans in that tower, people like us. People who have a family and a life. Yet somehow due to this ignorance which has manifested itself in some people’s minds it has been deemed acceptable to mock and make disgraceful comments about the people who died in this tragedy.
What I found interesting is that – even when challenged – these bigots always revert to the “Oh they must have been subletting… they were scrounging off the benefit system… they were lying..” All you have to do is have a casual look through hate preacher Katie Hopkins’ Twitter feed on anything to do with the Grenfell Tower and you can see evidence of the hate being openly displayed.
Talking of hate preachers, I have been blocked from Tommy Robinson’s feed since 2014, mainly because being as stubborn as I was back then – whenever he posted anything involving disgusting lies I would copy and paste the truth under every idiotic persons response ;).
Tommy Robinson (who apparently is not racist and who is trying to “help reform” Islam) claims he speaks the “truth”. But how exactly does Tommy speak this truth? I have known about this man way before he was the leader of EDL and part of BNP (people often forget his BNP links). The man is no better than any other hate preacher like “Abu Humza” etc. He does not “help” Muslims, he helps cause more issues between communities. He enjoys causing racial tensions and reporting on “facts” which in truth are generally just things he makes up.
I can assure you that if you check through any of Tommy’s followers at random you will find profile after profile of people tweeting disgraceful Islamophobic comments.
A few very recent examples are of when a young Asian girl was attacked with acid and Tommy quickly reported it was probably because she was too busy enjoying the western culture. The mind struggles at times to comprehend such idiocy but to see such a disgusting reaction actually made me so so furious. The girl could have been me. Yet somehow Tommy thinks it is acceptable to make that comment about an innocent girl. He didn’t even have the right facts – in the end it turned out it was a white male who was behind the racially motivated attack.
We cannot forget how much Tommy enjoys speaking about any sexual assaults by anyone who is an ethnic minority (mainly anyone who is a Muslim). Recently Tommy thought he would retweet the below:
Who turned out wasn’t Muslim after all! Tommy quickly removed it but failed to comment on or apologise for his slander.
The final thing I want to address is a topic which I find very frustrating. Why do these far right people always seem to discuss/march/protest against any abuse committed by ethnic minorities but fail to mention any committed by white male perpetrators? We recently had the Rotherham grooming gang case which was not just upsetting but absolutely a massive failure by the police. These disgusting animals managed to get away with what they were doing for years. Yet we also have the case of Jersey House of Horrors? Year after year children were being abused continuously and yet nobody did anything!
My frustration is why do the far right fail to talk about this? Why do they not talk about the recent case in Austraila of the Senior Vatican George Pell who is facing multiple sex assault charges? Or the issue we have about the sexual abuse of cadets which have been covered up by officials?
In my Twitter words, a nonce is a nonce regardless of the race or religion. The question needs to be asked why we are not discussing all cases?
I will finish with this, I am a 29 years old, sometimes stubborn, independent Muslim chick. I do normal things like shop, eat and sleep. I do not get beaten by men, I probably have more rights then an average chick (mainly because I am the youngest and super spoilt :D) I do not need help from being “oppressed”, bacon will not harm me and I have a great life.
I do not need any fake “do gooders” pretending to help me and the rest of us out there by insulting and “protecting” us in the same breath.
I guess with regard to hijab wearing, in the west it can be a genuine choice, although, it might cause consternation and abuse if a family or community would disapprove of a girl who does not wear it. She could be heckled while walking around her own part of town. Her father might protest. Her brothers or mother might feel it is wrong, argue with her, put her down, or worse. It is only a choice if it is a true choice. How often is this the case?
Second, while that is the situation in the West, it is not the situation in many countries, where the government itself , either at province level or nationally, requires dress codes in public. In this case there is absolutely no choice in the matter and the garment must therefore be seen as denying choice for those percentage of women who would rather not wear it. Arguments as to why it must be worn, coming from the existing patriarchy, religion and culture, might lead to conclusion that it is morally or socially beneficial to restrict the choice, but to argue that women in such places actually do have any choice in the matter, is ridiculous. If it becomes a criminal matter to do otherwise, there is no choice.
It’s rather the equivalent as if there was a land where all girls not only had the choice to become a nun, but were required by law to do so. Or where, not becoming a nun would likely lead to a lot of tensions and arguments around the family and local community. So the equivalence with the spiritually abstinent life of a nun, reclusing herself from wider society to meditate on god, does not follow through – not unless each and every hijab niqb or burqa wearing girl or women has an absolute “free choice” to do so.
This is far from true in today’s muslim world, both in muslim societies, and in western societies. Thus, on balance, the garment remains one which denies women a choice. One might comment on these facts without entertaining any sense of compulsion or criticism towards people who belong to the culture itself. however truth must be the guide to judgement, and the truth is, that free choice is not realised in the world we live in for the vast majority of girls and women wearing these religious attire.
By contrast, there are likely 0 -10 cases globally of a nun forced to become a nun.
As we reach the 3rd millenium AD, by and large we do not have special gender specific clothing requirements in western countries, or in chinese society, or in russia, or in hindu india, or in much of africa, or in south america, or japan, or korea…. Its pretty unique to Islam. Probably the most similar “oppressive dress code” in the west would be the expectation of men in most professional roles to wear a suit and tie! I can’t think of anything else on a par with the hijab/niqab/burqa in terms of so widespread an expectation between a fixed clothing requirement for a particular gender, and a particular culture (islam, and modern business culture, respectively).And in the case of niqab/burqa, when there is a societal expectation to not even show ones face – which is used for something like 80% of human communication – smiles, frowns, quizzical looks, and the like – i feel this is cutting pretty hard to the core of what makes us human, and serve to enclose and shut off women from their opportunities, far more than providing a sense of empowerment.
I would be concerned about women in extreme religious attire being victims of a type of Stockholm syndrome towards a religiously sanctioned patriarchy and those who interpret it as “empowerment” (borrowing from very recent identity political discourse) are simply consenting to a type of modern slavery which escape criticims under the guise of respect for a “Mystical heritage”. I myself believe it was right and correct for women to achieve a greater diversity of freedoms and roles in society, compared to previous centuries in christian societies. However even in its most traditional periods, the role of a women never required her to wear a nun’s attire as a standard social costume. Indeed, as far as i am aware, throughout the history of christian societies, women were free to dress in a wide variety of ways, perhaps explaining why the world’s premier fashion houses are generally French or Italian, rather than coming out of any islamic culture.
I for one do not want to be a party to any coercive system whether it is religious or not.
I have absolutely no problem with hijab as “free choice” to wear – its just a head scarf at the end of the day, no different to wearing a hat or a hoodie.
It is certainly not a mutlicultural dealbreaker and should never be an excuse for hate.
But on the other hand – for every muslim woman who says she is proud to wear it and feels empowered and liberated – should there not likewise be a recognition that many girls and women do not get any kind of choice in the matter. I am not saying that someone who choose to wear is somehow helping to “enslave others”; what i am saying is that to say “this empowers me” in a free society somehow appears to cover up the lack of choice which exists widespread throughout the world. Perhaps because it is considered religiously and morally right that that lack of choice exists. If so, then it is sourced ultimately in religious expectation, and not in freedom .
it is following a code which has been laid down, rather than empowerment, per se. And because it stems from such a code, it can very easily give rise to coercive social and political structures founded on the code – and under which there is no longer any choice. This fact must be recognised because since the time of Thomes Hobbs the western conception of “liberty” firmly excludes coercion from its formulation. It’s the only reason we have such a thing as identity individualism at all.
Really important to distinguish cases of genuine expression of free will from those in context of social structures which “expected” the choice so that it was shaped by family, community, or religious laws. It’s not good enough if even 5% of women do not consent to the thing but have “no choice”. The personal “lack of oppression” cannot then translate to the cultural expectation globally on behalf of “all women”.
If we create a world in which every single girl and woman has this choice freely, then for sure, hijab niqab and burqa cannot any longer be said to reflect oppression . That is not the world we live in today, however.