Girl wearing hijabWhen I was a little girl, there was a Muslim family living in our apartment building. I didn’t know what Islam was but I noticed the girl, about my age, wearing a hijab. I asked her about it and we talked about it. I thought it was pretty and was horribly jealous that I didn’t get to wear one. I went home and secretly wrapped a towel around my head in the bathroom to see how it would look on me.

Since that time I’ve come to learn the significance of the hijab and still maintain that it looks beautiful. I love the way it frames the face and brings out the individual features of the woman. I’m no longer jealous of those women who get to wear one but I do still admire them.

So when I heard about a woman not being allowed to wear a hijab in court and another who was denied her Oath of Citizenship over her niqab, I was sad. I didn’t see this as a religious rights thing, although there is that aspect to it. What I saw was women being denied the right to choose what they wear.

Historically, to be a “good girl” a woman had to present herself a certain way. Dress a certain way, walk a certain way, talk a certain way, think a certain way, be a certain way. Those who act outside these rules are segregated from “polite society” with such designations as “slut” or “whore”.

Isn’t, then, the hijab and niqab just another piece of clothing forced on women by men and religion? No. To make this assumption is to buy into the very crap women having been buying into for millennia. It is this very thinking that we have to fight against.

When a person; male, female or trans; chooses a course of action, it is their choice. This means, barring those choices that cause harm and destruction to others, that they get to make that choice and the rest of us get to live with it. If a woman chooses to wear a hijab or niqab we get to respect it. No, you don’t get an opinion on the matter.

What? Everyone gets an opinion.

Nope. Not on this. You get to put your tongue behind your teeth and shut up about it. The reason is this; you do not live her life. You do not get to make a statement about her choices.

Until people are willing to admit that women are capable of making their own choices and respecting them for it women will make no forward progress in their movement towards equal rights. This issue goes far deeper than just religious rights. It delves into the heart of equal rights.