Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Why I miss my veil ('niqab' in Muslim-speak) in Muscat, and when and why I don't
Living in an Arab Muslim country, purely religious things take on cultural meanings and lose their religious, and prejudice against niqab is the same here in Oman as it is in Western country almost. I can't wear it for work in most places, I was asked to take a photo of a woman wearing niqab off of my profile picture on my email (because it scares people and makes them think of ISIS/DAEESH) for work, some people assume it is related to tribal/regional associations of a woman's honour (i.e. her father or husband makes her wear it or it identifies her to be from a certain tribe or area and thus have a limited educational or aspirational background etc), some dudes think any woman who walks alone without a male chaperone while wearing niqab is hiding her identity to be able to like, date them or something (sooooooooooooooo annoying!!!!!).
Religious people, also, just as annoying. Gotta wear niqab a certain way to be doing so for religious purposes (i.e. can't wear flower crowns or pins or maybe even colours for your niqab).
However, it is safer to wear it here. Besides creepy loser guys. I mean no one calls you terrorist, throws stuff at you, harasses you for blocks shouting profanities at you or threatening to hurt you if you don't take it off.
I know. I've worn (and not worn) niqab in both a Western country, and here in Oman.
a. in super cold weather, trust me niqab was AWESOME. EVEN cheap, crap quality niqabs that would kill you over a Muscat summer.
e. Some of the most awesome women's self defense class instructors in Canada wore niqab, and it was always such a killer to see the faces of women when their coach put on her niqab on as we all left the gym.
g. the creepy loser stalkers don't actually know who you are when you are wearing niqab, so when you like, dent their car when you happen to kick it, it is really hard for the police to find you after;) just saying....
h. Wearing niqab means I can wear the darkest red lipstick in the world without anyone thinking I am trying get attention from some dude or make another woman feel insecure or whatever loser thing they think that I wear lipstick for. I just happen to like me some lipstick a lot, and with niqab can enjoy it in peace without any controversy. I can also wear blue lipstick and you'd never know.
j. Religious reasons of course. It means my actions have to speak louder than my appearance, and that my words have to be clearer, wiser, more grounded, educated, and patient. In other words, niqab holds the power to make me, a generally angry, inpatient, prone to cursing, person, a better person. Who considers all aspects of themselves reflected before the world, but first, to the inspection of one's own ideals. ...Some people might see it is as barrier to the world, but the only barrier it ever was for me, was a barrier for shooting out imperfectly formed words strung together haphazardly, a soft reminder that my movements require a cooling rationality to guide the passions underlying them.
...I don't wear it anymore for a variety of reasons... I am perhaps not as religiously focused as I was say four to five years ago. I feel stupid taking it on and off for work. In Oman I get loser dudes following me when I wear it but walk alone etc... People think my husband makes me wear it, or that I am from a tribe, nation, family, religious sect, that I am not. I also don't like seeing women pressured to wear it. Women who don't like it, believe in it, or understand it. As much as I don't like people thinking I am a woman that anyone could force anything upon, I don't like seeing women forced.
The meal only fails to be a meal when you skip the meal altogether, and just choose your own dessert.
...A thing to remember;).