Lately I’ve been talking about crochet but I’d like to deviate for a moment so I can weigh in on a debate that’s been raging here in Canada for some time. It concerns a woman who wanted to wear a niqab for her swearing in ceremony as a Canadian citizen.

Time for some definitions.

Different types of headscarves worn by Muslim Women

Muslim Headscarves

First, to the right you will see different types of headscarves worn by Muslim women. This is, by no means, a complete chart nor is it meant to be. Different regions have different customs and different types of headgear. Think of it this way; a woman going to the beach in California is likely to dress like her peers. This may include a string bikini with a cover top. A woman in Florida, however, will dress like her peers. This may mean a one-piece with no cover top. It depends on what is the fashion there.

Second, there is an admonition in the Quran for men and women to be humble. Problem is, that’s all it says. Like every other religious text out there, it doesn’t define what humble is or how to be humble so how the individual follows this is pretty broad. It could mean something as simple as not bragging. Or, it could mean wearing a burqa. Point is, it’s up to the individual.

Third, there is an argument, however silly, that says allowing the niqab will mean losing Canadian culture. Guess what? The niqab is a part of Canadian culture. Canadian culture is simply bits and pieces of those cultures brought here by the immigrants who come to live here. The only true Canadian culture here is that of the indigenous people. It’s funny how those against the niqab aren’t out fighting to save that Canadian culture.

There is something going on here I think we’re all missing and we need to wake up to. This isn’t about hiding a face or Muslims taking over Canada or any other nonsense. It’s about what a woman is wearing.

Let me back this truck up for a moment to let that sink in.

This is about a government, largely run by men, telling women what they can or can’t wear. Sweethearts, this is a tale as old as time. At one time, a woman who exposed her calves was accused of indecent exposure. At one time we were told that to be “good” women we had to cage ourselves in rib crushing, organ grinding corsets. Please don’t get me started on bustles.

Telling women what to wear, either through religion or government or media, is not new. What is new is that we women are siding against the niqab and that’s dangerous. We cannot tell society that we get to choose what goes on, in or our of our bodies if we deny other women the same opportunity. Whether we agree with it or not. If I choose to walk around in a Xena Warrior Princess outfit all day, that’s my choice. No one gets to tell me I can’t. That’s what is at stake here.

I am floored by the number of women siding against the niqab. Stating that it’s oppressive or a sign of her subjugation. Some have even called it abuse. It’s none of that. It’s a piece of cloth. No different than a corset or bikini or pair of socks. If feminists are going to fight for the right to determine what they wear without shame or condemnation, then we must extend that to all women. Regardless if we agree with their decision or not. To do otherwise is hypocritical.