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Two Views on Hijab

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Two views on Hijab Hijab: that is, wearing a headscarf as a sign of modesty, a common (but not required) act among Muslim women. What do women who observe hijab really think about hijab in America? This essay will compare two women’s views. The first woman, a blogger identified by the moniker Scarf Ace, expresses her personal struggles with hijab in a blog post titled “Miss or Diss?” The second woman, Fatemah Fakhraie, is a Muslim-American activist for the rights of women. Her article “Scarfing it Down,” originally published in Bitch magazine--a feminist news publication--examines hijab bans and the way they effect Muslim women’s rights. While both women participate in hijab, their opinions differ on the view society takes: One woman wishes that society would accept her choice to observe hijab, the other demands it. Scarf Ace speaks out about her decision to start hijab. She begins by stating the difficulties with wearing the headscarf: it’s hot, people look at her, she can’t have a ‘good hair day’, etc. She continues because of her “husband’s high regard for hijab” and because, as a stay-at-home mother, she can choose when to leave the house, thus not having to wear it constantly (488). Her blog is an outlet for dealing with her decision to start hijab; she has very mixed emotions about it, and she wants people to hear her voice – she wants her decision to be understood and accepted by the people she encounters every day. She hears the voices of her insecurities through the eyes of watchful passersby: “… I’ve got her figured out, and it ain’t good” (489). Her difficulties with hijab stem from the fear of being different and being watched and subsequently misrepresented in people’s thoughts. She employs the use of personal storytelling throughout her article. A technique that proves to be a powerful tool in drawing the reader into her narrative; helping them empathize with her. It’s not written as a ‘poor me’ piece, but rather it empowers both the writer and the reader through the clarity of thought gained by better understanding the situation. Her thesis relies on the fact that everyone has been in a situation where they feel out of place, and her piece dredges up those memories in order to help the reader understand her point of view. Fatemah Fakhraie takes a very different approach to the same topic in her essay “Scarfing it Down.” In comparison to Scarf Ace’s personal struggle with hijab -- and the conversational approach that she takes in her writing -- Fakhraie writes a much more politicized, and aggressive narrative directed towards her feminist readership, to incite outrage and protest against the unfair treatment of Muslim women by the media and the Canadian government. She begins with the story of a girl killed by her father for not wearing a hijab (491): right away she lets the reader know that she has a point and won’t waste any time getting to it. Fakhraie claims “Banning a headscarf … is an issue of personal, not religious, freedom,” and that these bans are pointedly targeted at Muslim women (491). She writes angrily that the politicians who pass the anti-headscarf laws, and the media who polarize the issue to sell papers, are taking away the choice for Muslim women without understanding the meaning behind hijab. She uses specific examples of intolerance to substantiate her point -- the murder of the girl, and the disqualification of the young athlete on grounds of inappropriate attire (though she had competed with the same outfit for the three years prior) -- to rouse her readership. To help people understand her view on the hijab bans she likens them to the banning of any other article of clothing (491). Her article is less successful than Scarf Ace’s in drawing in readers; it is written for a reader base that already agrees with her. To someone coming across this article, it’s a harsh, in-your-face, and incredibly biased opinion piece that leaves no room for compromise; there isn’t a fence to sit on. However, that is her point: she is using the article to pose a question. Is the reader okay with the hijab bans, with intolerance, with the targeting of women? If not, they need to speak up in defense of Muslim women who deserve the choice to participate in hijab if they feel they should. This article is Fakhraie’s voice and the reader can hear her yelling. In conclusion, it’s fairly easy to see the differences between the two writers: Scarf Ace’s blog post is just what it claims to be: she is using her writing as a personal outlet to vent her frustrations and ask questions of herself; and her readership is likely to be women going through similar situations – the blog is for their mutual benefit; Scarf Ace gets the weight off her chest, and she is hopefully helping those who read her words and are also struggling with hijab, or even just being a Muslim in a largely Christian country. Contrasting with that is Fakhraie’s piece: a clearly biased opinion on an issue, written for feminists by a feminist. She makes her side clear, she doesn’t mince words, and she has thought about it and come to a conclusion. Both of these articles are meant by the writer to draw attention to hijab, but more importantly they’re trying to get the reader to look beyond the headscarf (metaphorically, of course) to see that there is a person underneath: a person deserving of respect no matter what the reader’s beliefs might be. Ultimately, the thing these two pieces share is the passion behind them: these women want to be heard, they want to shed light on an issue of importance to them, and most of all they both want their beliefs to be respected.

Works Cited:
Scarf Ace. “Miss or Diss?” Ramage, John D; Bean, John C; Johnson, June Writing Arguments: a rhetoric with readings. Boston: Pearson. (2012): 488-90. Print.
Fakhraie, Fatemah. “Scarfing it Down.” Ramage, John D; Bean, John C; Johnson, June Writing Arguments: a rhetoric with readings. Boston: Pearson. (2012): 488-90. Print.

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