HIJAB, FREEDOM AND OBJECTIFYING WOMEN By Lan Rey Hassan
Just outside the gate of the Tecno office in Computer Village Ikeja, tweaking, twirling, swirling their waists lewdly, flaunting their breasts in the name of dancing were three ladies who had to have been- if not teenagers, in their early twenties. Of course, there was a boy too with them, but lo and behold, his consummate dancing skills couldn’t draw half the attention the half exposed breasts of the girls did. And, attention; that was what Tecno needed. It would have been a waste to hire more boys, or even as much boys as girls.
As a progressive feminist, one easy way to subject your opinion of the hijab to a timely evolution is to cultivate the habit of counting how many adverts needlessly display women nude. Not that there is any needed display of nude women, but just take it that way.
But wait, don’t put on the TV, that’s too far. Start from the fact that the gas-station opposite your house prefers a female sales girl to a male, and the bank, yes, the corporate bank you use, has more female than male officials by the counter. Of course, you can’t tell about the boardroom.
It is an appalling trend, how women are continually being objectified. In other words; how they are seen as objects through which the (sexual) attention of people can be drawn or through which their lusts can be quenched.
Of course, you can’t blame the people; it is not the lack of proper sexual orientation or upbringing that causes the men to feel sexually aroused, and hence keenly engrossed when they see women’s bodies twirling, while conversely, women feel nothing from watching men do the same.
It is therefore not a problem that can be classified as being social or socio-cultural, but rather biological.
Feminist or not, a man will get more easily attracted sexually to a woman dancing than a woman to a dancing man.
To curb the objectification of women, it needs to be understood that the bodies of women are not merely for pleasure or for every lustful eye to feast on. This will call for a change to the societal notion (even in liberal nations) that a woman’s body is her best asset, and hence has to be exposed so she may show how endowed she is.
If it doesn’t make sense that I ascribe such horrible notion to the most liberal nations, then think about the reason behind a culture that admits the most standard cloth a man can put on; a suit – to be one that covers all his body (since his intellect is what matters) and dictates the standard cloth that reflects the liberty of women to be one that reveals a part of the chest and stops above the knee.
Why, if not because, it is still believed somehow, that the woman’s biggest asset is her body, and thus, has to be flaunted.
This idea is what Islam combats with the Hijab. The woman’s biggest asset is not her body, but her intellect, and thus, in a situation where we have people believing otherwise, Islam enforces it on women to use the jilbaab to protect their bodies from becoming objects of sexual pleasure to men.
It may be argued however, that enforcing it on the women to conceal their bodies is a way of showing sympathy with the notion that their bodies are objects of sexual gratification and are required to be covered in order to prevent the men from satisfying their desires through them.
Well, yes. Everybody’s body is an object of sexual gratification.
But we may as well ask:
Which is the better solution.
Problem : Women’s bodies are objects of sexual gratification and are being used to gratify men’s sexual appetite.
Solution A: Let them cover up and prevent the men from using them as objects of sexual pleasure.
Solution B: No, let them reveal the bodies for the men’s sexual pleasure, for covering up will mean we agree in the first instance that were they to open up, they will become objects of sexual gratification; A belief we want to eradicate.
But being practical, can we eradicate the fact that a man becomes aroused from seeing a woman’s body move? From seeing her half-exposed chest? No.
Because it is not a belief, it is reality.
But aren’t men’s bodies too tools of sexual gratification? well, Islam does not order them to cover up like women, because unlike women, they don’t have the problem of being used by the women to gratify their sexual pleasure so often.
But did you know?
Islam enforces a dresscode on them too: Something that must conceal whatever is between their navels and knees.
No one can say that the effect of the opposite sex seeing a woman’s chest is the same as that of women seeing a man’s. And we all agree, that no culture believes men’s bodies (or sexual attractiveness) to be their biggest assets, therefore Islam has a reason to enforce a longer and stricter dress code on the women which not only ensures their bodies can’t be used to quench sexual desires, but also, cannot be perceived as their biggest assets.
Problem: What we flaunt is our best assets. A woman’s body is seen as her most valuable and hence has to be flaunted.
Solution: Men wear suits and don’t flaunt their bodies outside, because they believe no matter how attractive they are, they don’t really matter.
So, women, do the same. You don’t show that it doesn’t matter by trying to attract attention through it, you show that it doesn’t matter by concealing it no matter how beautiful it may be.
Finally, the question of enforcing the hijab comes in, and we wonder why Islam had to force it’s women to cover up properly.
In other words: why does Islam try to ensure that every woman’s body is saved from being used as an object of sexual gratification? Why not leave those who want to be objectified to be. Why hinder their freedom to be objects with which men’s sexual desires are fulfilled?
Need I write more? The question must have answered itself.
Islam values and is (over)protective of its women’s chastity, dignity and self worth, so much that it leaves no chance for them to objectify themselves, just as governments, such as Lagos’, which value education so much, enforced it on Parents to enrol their children in school, and thereby denying the children the right to choose to be uneducated.
Lan Rey Hassan.
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