wood turtle recently wrote this great post on a tired, patriarchal online sport: policing women’s bodies by dictating ‘proper’ and ‘improper’ hijab. I reccommend reading the full piece, entitled “beard memes and the proper hijab narrative.” wood turtle’s post includes several examples of this online trend, so go check it out! I’ve excerpted parts of the post below which get to the heart of the issue:
In this online narrative hijabis receive the message that there is only one type of hijab and only a “true muslimah” wears it. Women who don’t wear the hijab aren’t even factored into the equation. They don’t register on the pious Muslim scale, except to slander and shame women who wear the “wrong” type of hijab.
Who is deciding what constitutes the “right” hijab and a “true Muslim woman?” According to more than one of the infographics, the judgement comes from our fellow “brothers in Islam.” Not scholars. Not women. Not God. It sets a dangerous precedent when men feel they can freely comment on and define women’s bodies. These memes and infographics are shared thousands of times over social media. They’re fun, fresh, snappy cartoons — reinforcing the message that women have no agency to decide what makes a good hijab for them, whether fully covered or not at all.
This proper hijab narrative completely sexualizes the headscarf and standards of modesty — turning fellow Muslims into slut-shamming caricatures responsible for the chastity of men. The additional unfortunate subtext of this trend, is that even when women wear hijab according to the requirements of the Sunnah, they’re still not covered enough. Condemned to hell via a whore/Madonna hijab dichotomy.
It would be so nice if people could practice their ideals of modesty without this guit, shame, and gender inequity baggage showing up on Tumblr and Facebook. To be modest and Muslim “just because.” Because it’s stylish or comfortable or just to create a personal connection to the Divine.