Those of people that are brought up in typical western culture believe that Muslim women who wear the job symbolize the continued oppression of women in the Middle East. In “To Veil or Not To Veil” Jen’nan Ghazal and John P. Bartkowski perform a case study of different forms of identity among Muslim women in Austin Texas. This experiment delves into Muslim culture and tries to analyze both sides of the argument a primarily factual essay. The article carefully analyses both sides of the issue in an attempt to better understand what the head coverings mean for these women, and how their gender roles compare as muslim women.
It appears that some people of the west fail to do before making assumptions about Middle Eastern oppression of women, many stop to ask a Muslim woman what she thinks about wearing a veil. In their case study Ghazel and Bartkowski talked to twelve veiled women and twelve unveiled women in Austin, Texas and asked them questions surrounding the controversy of the hijab. Islamic women’s motivations for veiling seem to vary dramatically. The range can be broad as expressing their strongly held conviction, to critique western culture, for strictly religious purposes, and to be viewed not just as women, but as intellectual equals. Some of verses in the Qur’an and Hadiths (Islam’s holy texts) say that women must wear to hijab to not tempt men and that to be a good Muslim woman she must conceal her body.
This belief makes women overall much more modest and submissive. The Islamic religion according to the article is very much a patriarchal religious institution and some of the bureaucratic men in the society are said to see the veil as a way to keep women subservient in their society. This appears to be the central reason why unveiled women do not wear a hijab. They believe that because the head covering wasn’t originally created by Islam they shouldn’t have to wear it to achieve spiritual welfare or be considered of higher religious caliber. They believe the hijab is an oppressive tool to leave the male social hierarchy as it is now. By not wearing the hijab it appears that the majority of women feel empowered verses those woman who do where a veil. But it is important to note that there exceptions to the rule, the article talked about a girl who wore the hijab to be taken seriously by society and move up the social hierarchy.
This article primarily uses an empirical methodology. The arguments are portrayed through the research and case study that the two authors conducted in Austin, Texas. Both arguments are covered thoroughly and some quantitative data is used. As I read the article I found it surprising that the two authors only conducted this study on twenty four women, twenty four Americanized women no less. An American Muslim woman verses a Middle Eastern Muslim woman can have very different views on the issue simply because the societies are so different, it is possible that the culture of the United States is encouraging this challenging think by these twenty four women.
I also found it a little shocking that the article failed to address the factor fear plays in Middle Eastern Muslim women to wear the hijab. The majority of the Middle East is based on an ideology called Timocracy which is a society based on honor. When women in some countries do not wear the veil they are in affect disrespecting Islam and the nation according to some more radical Muslims. Because of this many women are punished by being beaten for something as little as a veil slipping in public.
It is clear that a hijab does not have just one singular meaning. The veil may be a piece of the Islamic religion, but it is how women view and own the veil that determines what gender arises for the issue. While the some of the cultures may be forced on women, like Iran it takes independent and free thinking women to determine the culture now and how it will evolve.