J is for Jeans
When I’m bored, I like to come up with different scenarios in my head. How would I react if ___ happened? What if I was in ___ situation? How would I handle that?
I wondered what I would do if I came across an Islamophobic person. Maybe a supporter of Candidate Who Shall Not Be Named, or just anyone with a thing against Muslims because of what they are hearing about the problems overseas. Someone who accused me of supporting Radical Group That Shall Not Be Named.
My first response: “What about me suggests that I support them?”
The only response they could have would be my hijab, because honestly there is nothing else about my physical appearance that makes me more similar to someone from said radical groups than any generic American.
If that was their thinking, my response would be: “So because I wear this scarf they must be my people? Well…” then I would look at what said accuser is wearing. Something that we had in common. “You and I are both wearing jeans. Does that make you one of my people too?”
I don’t know what comes after that, because what else could someone say? Because I wear a piece of clothing, some people are going to assume that there is this whole radical ideology hidden underneath. But when you think of the hijab as something as ordinary as jeans, the assumption just seems silly.
Sure, there is a larger reason why I wear the hijab, but in reality, it’s still not that different from jeans. The piece of cloth on the head is not what “hijab” means when you’re talking about the practice as a whole. It’s really about what you allow to be showing: the face and hands. If you think about it in that sense, technically my jeans are also part of my hijab. And I wear both because that is the standard that has been set for me as acceptable public wear.
I know I’m boiling something complicated and layered down into something simple, but that’s the nature of conflict. All conflicts can be boiled down to a simple inconsistency or contradiction. It takes people to be bold enough to point out the simple or “stupid” if we’re going to get anywhere in tackling these problems.