Jeans, hijab or whatever – No one, including Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, should judge women on any garment – Commentary
She wears a sleeveless top, she must be “loose man”. She drapes a dupatta on her head, she must be “so backward”. What exactly is the right dress for women in our society? No one seems to get it (no matter how women themselves want to dress), but that doesn’t seem to stop men from having a say in the clothing of the opposite sex.
The latest person to lift many people up is physicist and scholar Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, who recently made unwarranted remarks about women wearing hijabs and abayas in classrooms.
It appeared on G for Gharida to Television A September 14 with Dr Mariam Chugati and Dr Ayesha Razzaq to discuss the unique national program.
The conversation shifted from promoting rote learning in Pakistan’s education system to portraying women in newly published SNC textbooks – which many have criticized.
“There are pictures and illustrations of girls and women sitting on the floor in which they are wrapped (lipti wi hain), said Dr Hoodbhoy.
“But when they [young students] seeing other women in the bazaars or elsewhere who are not wrapped, they will think it is wrong, ”he said. He called the textbooks an attempt to perpetuate gender stereotypes and said he had a lot of problems with that.
“This is an attempt at Talibanization. Imran Khan’s government is trying to get us into Afghanistan,” he added.
Dr Hoodbhoy was talking about gender stereotypes and yes that is a relevant question. But taking a stand against stereotypes means being more inclusive and emphasizing the importance of diversity, not singling out a group of women who dress a certain way.
Referring to his time at Quaid-e-Azam University, where he began teaching in 1973, Dr Hoodbhoy said that 47 years ago it was hard to see a single girl in a burqa. “Now, hijabs and burqas have become commonplace. It’s rare to see a normal girl now,” the scholar said.
“And when they are sitting in class, wrapped in a hijab or a burqa, their activity, their participation in class is very low. [ghatia], to the point where you can’t tell if they’re in class or not, “he said.
He added that even earlier, female students “didn’t ask a lot of questions,” but sometimes when they did, he readily answered questions.
Before we get to Dr. Hoodbhoy’s problematic remarks, let’s look at one thing; there is still a lot to explore on the CNS and this article does not cover it. Criticisms from academics, including Dr Hoodbhoy, that women have lower status in books should be addressed by the government and other academics.
Dr Ayesha Razzaq also pointed out that the representation of women is apparently less present in the program and that women have been dressed in “a more stereotypical way whereas there is diversity for men”. What she did not do, however, was shoot the women depicted in these books, that is, those who wear the hijab, burka and niqab.
Clothes don’t define a woman
People – usually men – often use women’s clothes to make a point and judge a woman’s morality and character. That they say that women wear less clothes than they would like makes them immodest and vulgar (fachash) or if they think wearing a headscarf somehow makes you less intellectual and outspoken than your peers – it’s the same. Men have judged women by their clothes for far too long.
People often equate feminism and the movement with a confusing definition of liberalism. They believe that feminists are fighting for the right of women to wear what they want – and slogans like mera jism meri marzi to do cover different aspects of policing a woman’s body – but it can only be “skinny” clothes.
No. What women want is the freedom to choose. And not to be judged / fumbled / degraded for it.
Feminism wants women to be able to wear whatever they want, whether it’s a niqab, a hijab, or neither. Separating women into two categories – those who wear the hijab or niqab and the “normal” – is no different from people who cry. “fachash“when they see women who aren’t covered to their satisfaction. Either way, you judge a woman by what she’s wearing and that’s not fair.
We know the revered Dr Hoodbhoy has been around for years and must have interacted with all types of people, but generalizing based on your experiences is all that gender stereotypes clash.
And what exactly are “normal” women? The way society dictates a woman’s attire or “acceptable” behavior based on her location, social circle, occupation, and other parameters is not only laughable, it is downright insulting.
This is real life, not a dress up game.
Clothing choices ≠ IQ range
Dear all liberals and conservatives, please don’t reduce a woman’s entire personality to her clothing choices. Wearing a hijab or niqab does not affect a person’s intelligence – what you might mistake for their reluctance is the lack of confidence that comes from households, peers, and sometimes even teachers. We are not surprised to hear from you that women (not just women lipti with) are more reluctant than their male counterparts to ask questions because we live in a society that prefers its women – all women, regardless of dress – to be wise (read calm) than daring (read opinionated).
We would expect someone as learned as Dr. Hoodbhoy not to generalize his experiences to an entire population of women and choose his words carefully. Just as the Khalilur Rehmans of this country have their followers who cling to their every anti-feminist word, many hold Dr. Hoodbhoy in high regard and would be swayed by his depreciation of women who dress a certain way.
Wearing a headscarf doesn’t lower your IQ and neither does dyeing your hair blonde, as stereotypes would have you believe. A person’s intellect has nothing to do with the clothes they wear.
Make your very valid point of view on gender stereotypes and the roles imposed on women, but leave their clothes behind. Talk about a more diverse representation of women without looking down on any group. Unlike other clothes, for some the niqab, hijab, and burka have deep religious value – they should not be used as an accessory or caricatured (we are also looking at you, Kiran Naz, for the niqab waterfall) .
In the end, it all comes down to this: Stop judging women for what they wear. Whatever your political leanings, leave the women and their clothes alone.