GenderHuman RightsUncategorized

That meme comparing hijabis to nuns needs to die in a pit of fire

On the madonna of false equivalences….

This post is kind of rough because it’s basically copy-paste of commentary I wrote on facebook and I’m drowning in too much translation work to properly edit it, and some of these points have been made on this blog before.

Hey hey! I keep seeing this meme going the rounds so I will take the liberty of sharing my spiel about how blatant these false equivalences are:

Point one: Well, wouldn’t this just mean that these religions are then all… equally sexist?

Even if we go like “gee…could that mean these religions that endorse sexual purity as a feminine value are ALL sexist?” there’s still no comparing some of these. Like if I never hear anyone compare hijab to being a nun again I’ll die happy.

It would be nice to PRETEND that hijab is worn by religious women who want to display devotion to God, but reality has a way of getting in the way of happy myths like that (and believe me once hijab DOES start being largely practiced that way I’m not going to be unhappy, it’s just a blatant misrepresentation of the extant values and practices underlying it). *puts on stoic face* So here’s my spiel:

Muslim modesty doctrines are not contentless symbols of religious devotion. They are not reducible to garment. They rest on premises that reduce a woman’s value to her sexual purity and elevate that above all other social concerns. They treat feminine bodies as objects of discord and simultaneously hypersexualize them as objects while desexualizing them as subjects. They are inherently anti-woman in ideology, and even if they were not, the scale and sanction that enacts them constitutes such constraint that the conclusion of oppression is inescapable.

Muslim modesty doctrine is vastly institutionalized and normative and enacted by legal, extrajudicial, social, and economic forces, and also contributes to an epidemic of traumatic hypersexualization of the bodies of prepubescent girls who are deemed too tempting to men, far before these girls are capable of informed consent about something like sexual purity.

Further to that, often the mobility, safety, employability, social standing, and marriageability of women rests on their adherence to it. It is also stringent and unyielding, encompassing all forms of public presence at all times- as far as I know it’s not a mortal sin if a nun’s hair shows sometimes, and as far as I know, a nun’s worth and standing and status as a moral agent, a human being, does not actually rest on whether she covers her hair in her community.

There is utterly no comparison between the practice of hijab today and a modern day Catholic taking the cloth. I think this is a dangerous and frankly hurtful comparison..

Point two: This is only a false analogy because being a nun is a voluntary career-path while Muslim modesty is often coerced or practiced under social, legal, extrajudicial constraint.

Ie, the thrust of this point is that any oppressiveness related to hijab lies in *coercion* and nothing about the *hijab itself*:

I’ve written about this in much more detail before but here’s the recap: I often see people hide behind the premise that the hijab is only oppressive if forced, like virtually anything else, and when adhered to voluntarily there’s nothing about the hijab *itself* that is problematic. And that drives me all sorts of distracted. Because you can’t extricate the underlying ideology of hijab, how it functions, what it confers, from any discussion of how it’s enacted and enforced. To pretend wearing hijab is just symbolic clothing unless enforced is just blatantly false. The modesty doctrine is itself per force a problem for tying a woman’s worth to her bodily presentation and conduct. Even if it were not such an infuriatingly normative set of values, the values themselves are a recipe for harm and repression.

Point three: Aren’t autonomous, happy adherents to hijab counterpoints? Don’t other religions have stricter interpretations and consequences enacted for their modes of modesty too?

Neither of these are counterpoints. Knowing people or knowing of people who don’t undergo these constraints and/or the mere existence of a religious order in non-Muslim sects with more strict practice does absolutely nothing as counterpoint.

The issue is about deeply entrenched social norms and the institutionalization and the commonality of a practice, not mere jurisprudence or exegesis or any individual’s capacity for choice. A thousand sects could exist that endorse a strict firm of sexual purity for all females (as opposed to voluntary adherents to an ecclesiastic order in the case of nuns, so, like, it’s not like every woman and many girlchildren are automatically opted into modesty doctrine in these sects as a circumstance of birth– you’re still talking about someone whose chosen career is religion). But the mere existence of those sects is not  problematic to the same extent if there are not laws and community groups and social structures enacting the norms of said sects, and if they are not operating in a larger society that defines its currency based on female honor and sexual purity.

I’m concerned not only with what a certain sect says about hijab, but with an epidemic crushing the lives of millions upon millions of women and girls worldwide, where modesty is the sole and final arbiter of everything they have and do in their lives, a phenomenon that is largely denied, downplayed, and obscured. I mean, ffs there are entire countries with millions of women citizens where veiling from childhood is mandatory by law. Countries with socially normalized Muslim modesty doctrines have the highest sexual harassment and genital mutilation rates in the world, because women are viewed as deserving of no dignity or safety or respect unless they adhere to the most stringent of requirements in covering their bodies. Murder is sanctioned and celebrated if a woman transgresses in places like Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan, Iran. In Indonesia women can be stoned to death for fornication and publicly whipped for standing to close to a man. Entire populations of countries practice things like FGM and male guardianship of adult women and there are laws written into our penal codes exonerating rapists who marry their victims or conferring sentences to perpetrators of honor crimes and refusal to criminalize domestic violence or marital rape, all reducible to the doctrines holding the entire worth of a woman and her family and society in her sexual purity.

And you’re talking about nominal anecdotes of the existence of individuals outside systems out of a strongly misguided urge to equitable comparison. If you believe anecdotes are counterpoints, you are endorsing a dangerous false equivalence, and  automatically searching for some rebuttal to talk about the hijab being oppressive belies a severe lack of scope and perspective, honest to goodness.

Point four: What about the merit of listening to different viewpoints and understandings of the Muslim experience? How do we reconcile what you’re saying with what my differing friend who has lived the Muslim experience says? Who has good things to say about Islam and the prophet and the Qur’an?

The thing about being open to hearing from multiple people is that you ought to consider which voices and experiences you’re more likely to have access to and find elevated around you, and why that is.

So i find this interesting. Here you say your friend has “the Muslim experience” And I’m largely like, what Muslim experience ? Which one? Which sect, which community, which country, race, language? If you consider one person’s  differing experience about this to be enough to provide counterpoint, then it is likely their experience is a privileged, nonrepresentative, frankly vanishingly rare Muslim experience that does not and cannot speak to the situation of the vast majority of Muslim women worldwide.

Legal and extrajudicial and institutional constraints don’t just vanish or become non-issues if someone else has a more positive spin on their particular Islam and are free to practice it.

Here’s an analogy. The term “American experience” for instance. You will always always always find an abundance of people who will vehemently defend their positive American experiences– does that make it a counterpoint if and when we want to talk about established, evidenced trends of institutionalized racism, sexism, classism, abelism in this country? And are those experiences any less American, or can their consistent patterned nature be denied simply because they don’t encompass the American experience by far?

Whether or not someone chooses to be a Muslim or wear hijab is utterly, utterly irrelevant because the question isn’t about what the Muslim experience is, whatever that means.

And yes, sure, I know Muslim women who aren’t overly concerned with eg personal sexual agency, or who wear hijab as a symbol of religious faith and only that, and don’t ascribe personal importance to modesty at all. That’s their prerogative. That’s their privilege. That is their Islam. But it does NOTHING to change the fact that in most mainstream sects in Muslim majority countries, hijab and modesty are largely sanctioned and practiced for sexual purity reasons and there is a lot underlying and enforcing that scripturally and socially and legally and EFFECTIVELY.

Also with all due respect, most Muslims in the west are afforded a much less mainstream, less stringent, less binding understanding of their own faiths. I’ve heard every bit of apologetics and exegesis under the sun providing ranges from more nurturing to less overtly violent of bigoted or sexist understandings of the faith. . I’ve heard every contextualization and cherry-picked anecdote and bit of torturous eschatology out there providing a vision of a peaceful and progressive Islam. And I’ve heard all of the less savory bits of jurisprudence and exegesis too.

The existence of milder forms is again not a counterpoint. The fact that people exist who work at and live by and endorse those interpretations does nothing to change the fact that, for instance, in mainstream Jaafari Twelver jurisprudence, gender segregation is required, girls must wear hijab at circa 8 years old, need paternal permission to marry, don’t have automatic right to work or get a divorce, don’t have maternity rights, and it is halal to beat them, can be put to death for adultery and whipped for fornication, and killed for apostasy. There is absolutely no question that this is the extant, adopted, enacted interpretation of Islam in Jaafari communities in Iran and Iraq and the Levant. There is massive scholarship and centuries of tradition undergirding that. No competing Muslim experience makes that problem not a Muslim problem or not a relevant one.

The world today is such that people with gentler Muslim experiences have them because they can afford to. Especially in the west. There is secularism here and societies are not fundamentally honor-based. The cards are not the same.

And the entire question of whether it is fair to talk about this stuff as being a Muslim problem is really a red herring.

Look, this isn’t about some abstract determination of what Islam is or isn’t and what kind of values the religion does or doesn’t endorse across its hundreds of sects and ethnicities and cultures and languages.

Islam isn’t a monolith and there’s no “real” or “platonic” form to it you can get at like some ideological truth, like is this experience more Muslim than that one. Of course some Muslim experiences are at odds with others. Child marriage and FGM are not practiced much in the Levant, for instance, and they’re common as sand in other Muslim communities. Islam is nothing more or less than the sum and conglomerate of Muslim practice and belief. I’m pointing at predominant states of affairs in the modern Muslim world as realities to be dealt with and their ideological influences not obscured. What Islam is or what hijab is for and how it’s practiced in 50 years or 100 may well look very very different. So this is not about what the religion *is* in some abstract sense.

My family put me in a particularly objectifying and abusive and shaming form of hijab at age 8 and thousands of girls around me went through that too while I watched and I am never going to stop highlighting that and its particularly Muslim ideological influences just because there are other less normalized Islams out there that don’t endorse the same. That is no counterpoint.

An abstract defense of an ideology does not take precedence over the rights and lives of women and girls.


~     ~     ~

Please consider supporting my work. Every bit helps:

personal paypal unaffiliated with EXMNA

Previous post

Principles and Politics: The Southern Poverty Law Center Loses the Plot

Next post

Documentary on “ex-Muslims” sparks contentious debate at Portland State



  • Syed Iftekharuddin

    non-muslim women are good they like to please men with their body 24/ 7

    • Matthew Long

      I think you mean “they understand their own pleasure and want and enjoy it for themselves” not “they please men”. Not everything has to be centered around men or even have anything to do with men.

      • Arraik Cruor

        Islam is a man’s religion. ” Your wives are a place of sowing of seed for you, so come to your place
        of cultivation however you wish and put forth [righteousness] for
        yourselves. And fear Allah and know that you will meet Him. And give
        good tidings to the believers.” Quran (2:223).

        This [Qur’an 78:33] means round breasts. They meant by this that the breasts of these girls will be fully rounded and not sagging, because they will be virgins, equal in age.

        Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Volume 10 Surat At-Tagabun to the end of the Qur’an, 333-334

        Abu Umama narrated: “The Messenger of God said, ‘Everyone that God admits into paradise will be married to 72 wives; two of them are houris and seventy of his inheritance of the [female] dwellers of hell. All of them will have libidinous sex organs and he will have an ever-erect penis.’ ”

        Sunan Ibn Majah, Zuhd (Book of Abstinence) 39

        • April Lamba

          Yep, but women’s pleasure and sexuality is demonized, ignored and 100% should be catered to men.

        • Sajjad Rehman

          70 from dwellers of hell? ever-erect penis! will the penis remain erect after the trip to hell? I would not mind a penis like that. And who would want to come back for just 2 houris from the fun in hell? is this ever erect penis meant to be punishment for the dwellers from hell? Nah! these women will be having time of their eternal life, with an ever -erect penis. but isn’t hell for punishment and not a place of pleasure? Which women wouldn’t want to go to a hell that has an ever erect penis ready for them? I hope to meet you there with my ever erect penis.

          • Dave Kinard

            um… isn’t this what you believe and defend?

          • Sajjad Rehman

            Fake news

    • Yadav

      You seem like a dude with extreme inferiority complex and insecure!

      • Dave Kinard

        if you look at his profile, he literally supports al-qaeda and the muslim conquest of the world and subjugation of non-muslims. Dude is basically a Daesh wannabe.

  • Robert David Lindsey

    Did not know about this until now, thanks I will repost it and keep it living.

  • Tee

    Outstanding! Thank you.

  • PrincessOfTheCrystal

    “An abstract defense of an ideology does not take precedence over the rights and lives of women and girls.”

    I honestly feel this way about so, so much ex-muslim and political atheist content where you’ll gladly tear away the few defences practising muslim/hijabi women have against the oncoming fascist storm for some sort of smug sense of superiority, rather than actually protecting & helping women. I think there’s a slightly insidious sleight of hand with articles like this in that it pretends like the meme is meant to be answering the statement “Hijab is forced on women” when in reality it’s retorting “Hijabi women are extreme and should be discriminated against.”

    It doesn’t matter if Nun is a career choice or not(traditionally a coerced one in some cases), the fact is that there’s a double standard in how displays of religious affiliation are treated. If anything the fact that a Nun’s dress is evidence of a whole career dedicated to a religion should be MORE of a marker for apparent inferiority to the rational atheist sorts many are trying too hard to please.

    I don’t understand why modesty doctrine – which extends far beyond hijab into the shaming of/violence towards sex workers, premarital sex etc. can’t be challenged without this relentless attack on hijabi women from all sides.

    • Matthew Long

      it’s not “hijabi women are extreme” NOR is it “should be descriminated against”

      It’s “hijabi women wear hijab due to social/ideological pressure that only exists due to belief and enforcement of religion”

      Re: nuns etc. I agree with you 100%, I don’t really agree with this article in general. It’s quite clear that nuns wear what they wear and practice what they practice also due to social and ideological pressure and it is not so unlike wearing hijab as the article makes it out to be.

      I agree with you re challenging “modesty doctrine” and I agree there is too much focus put on hijab considering all the other issues out there. Hijab and Islam both deserve a mention but this article almost dismisses the severity of other issues out there as if they are not comparable.

      • Where is your evidence that nuns dress the way they do due to “social and ideological pressure”? True, there are some very dark tales about what went on in monasteries and abbeys. But beocming a nun is completely voluntary, and requires someone who is at least 18 years old, who then has to study for at least 3-4 years before being fully ordained. Nuns are not under any male power; their life is in dedication to their religious convictions.

      • Dave Kinard

        I think the point she is making is the nature of that pressure. In the modern west, people who choose to become nuns may feel pressure themslves because of beliefs they learned that, but they aren’t pressured by threats of violence or ostracization. A christian might face ostricization from their family or community for rejecting the faith, but generally they are not subject to violence, nor are they totally alienated from society.

    • Dave Kinard

      If you read this article as an attack on women wearing hijab, you really got the wrong idea. the article was all about how women suffer under the hijab. The point was made that the fact that some women are fine with it isn’t a counterpoint to the fact that it’s forced on millions, and that the muslim women you are personally likely to encounter and interact with have a very unusuallly liberal experience of islam, and are not representative of women living under islam as a whole.

      You seem to miss the point of the article entirely. The author is not denying that there is discrimination and hatred agasint muslim women in the west and that this is a bad thing, rather that fear of encouraging that hatred is no excuse to apologize for the horrible oppression that islamic practices actually inflict on women.

      It seems as though you are in the mind set where there can only be two sides to everything, or relevant to the women being discussed, one threat. The argument is not to shame women who wear hijab, but to oppose the sytem that forces them to wear it and understand the severity of control that system has over women, even in the west.

      It seems like you can’t get out of the mindest “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

      Except that’s not even it. While the “facist storm” you’re referring to hates muslims in general. this author cares deeply for the experiences of muslim women but opposes the ideology that they suffer under. Part of this is a deliberate effort by islamists to conflate criticism of doctrines and cultural practices with hatred of muslims the people. These things are distinct. In no way is the author suggesting shaming or harming a woman for wearing hijab is any way a helpful solution to the problem of the harm they suffer if they do not wear hijab.

  • JohnFMayer

    The only meme I’ve seen on this topic makes exactly the opposite point: why are women in hijab harassed and mocked whereas nuns in habit are not.

  • jane stanley

    First, Catholic nuns nowadays tend not to cover up in the same way they did pre 1980s. Second, most nuns, and Catholics, would probably argue that becoming a nun is a vocation, not a ‘voluntary career path’. Third, nuns are married to God and their habit is a form of modesty as well as a signal they are unavailable – their wedding rings are also a symbol of their unbreakable attachment to God.

    • Also, there is a male equivalent, the monk, who must also dress and behave modestly, and adhere to sexual purity.

  • Russ Blake

    Thank you for your thoughtful post. I agreed with a lot and disagreed with some, but it certainly made me think and I can respect your opinions, even when we differ. This is a subject I think about a lot, as I live in an area of Europe where the Hijab is becoming more and more common. I tend to think along the lines of “if it’s not coerced, then it’s okay”. But I agree with what you wrote: –Because you can’t extricate the underlying ideology of hijab, how it
    functions, what it confers, from any discussion of how it’s enacted and
    enforced. To pretend wearing hijab is just symbolic clothing unless
    enforced is just blatantly false. The modesty doctrine is itself per
    force a problem for tying a woman’s worth to her bodily presentation and
    My counterpoint to that (and I don’t mean counterpoint in the sense that it “proves” yours wrong, by any means) is that you could make the same argument then about high heels or make up. Yes, women choose to wear high heels or make up, but if they weren’t raised in patriarchal societies that told women their worth was measured by their physical attractiveness, would they go through all the bother, pain, and expense of doing that? I know, you can’t equate high heels in Prague or Paris to the Hijab in hard-lined Muslim countries where a woman is punished if she doesn’t wear it. No woman in Europe will be beaten if she doesn’t wear make-up, or if she is, it’s an isolated incident not related to religion. But, there are moderate/secular Muslims who choose to wear the Hijab and are not threatened with violence. And that’s the issue for me…allowing women to choose for themselves. Obviously, this does not happen in strict Islamic countries. But to automatically assume “she was born Muslim so she has no choice” in a country like France, Germany, or the USA is not fair, to me.

  • Debra Lindegren

    I would love to hear your views on why the other half of the Muslim population — the MEN — appear to have been relieved of their responsibility to be pure themselves. If the men had a practice, maybe even a religion, that taught them how to.control their own desires, women wouldn’t have to cover up at all!!!! For this reason I consider men the weaker sex. They are basically announcing to the world, “We cannot control our impure thoughts or actions, so our women must be covered,” thus exonerating themselves from any further responsibility in this regard. Horrible!

    • Sajjad Rehman

      The scriptures instructed men first and then women. Later Christians introduced puppet regimes in Muslim world that they defend to this day, who are under instructions by Christian clergy to defame Islam by twisting its teachings in it’s very own name. Look at Muslim women in free world (europe, etc.) and you’ll find baffling variety and this is what is now disturbing the clergy who in order to keep people away from Islam had convinced their fellowship that Islam forced women on their dress code, are now baffled on how to defend against this false propaganda because women are taking supposedly greater civilised societies to courts for their rights to wear what they choose freely. Ever wondered why articles like this omit the voices of Muslim women fighting for right to wear hijab in ‘free world’?

      • Breadstix

        Why & how is it false propaganda??? LOL LOL LOL!!! That’s rich!!! Twisting its teachings?! Islam does that itself, does it not? Telling everyone how non-violent it is when its books are full of horrible passages about murder & violence? You’re too funny.

        • Sajjad Rehman

          Only time I have come across accusation of violences references in Qur’aan is when things are quoted out of context. That can be done to any religious book.

          • Breadstix

            I guess the whole book is always out of context. All the time. On a lot of pages. In a lot of verses.

          • Sajjad Rehman

            In theology, context is the whole system a religion carves out not just one book or two, let alone a verse or a chapter. I recommend to study Qur’aan with it’s tafseer or enrol on a BA in theology with Islam or comparative religious studies.In UK Birmingham Uni offers a good course.

          • Breadstix

            Nah…no more college for me. 3 degrees is enough. I understand what you’re trying to say. In the case of Islam, it’s not just the books being taken out of context. It is the willingness of even moderate Muslims to take those verses/passages literally & use the Quran as a model to control & abuse their wives & daughters (in an unending myriad of ways), punish those who leave their faith, etc…. I’m not even going to discuss what happens in Muslim majority countries solely b/c of the literal interpretations of the Quran & the implementation of Sharia Law. So it’s hardly taken out of context if the “whole system” (as you put it), legal & moral, is based on violence & subjugation. Even aside from their treatment of women & girls, look at the boy pedophilia travesty in places like Pakistan & Afghanistan, which they justify w/ the Quran’s view on the role women. So I understand the point you’re trying to make. I’m asserting that the whole system you speak of is indicative of the violence littered throughout the Quran. And littered throughout the Muslim world as evidenced by Muslims attempting to live by the Quran’s instructions.

          • Sajjad Rehman

            When we confuse theology whith sociology, we come to confused conclusion. we start to isolate issues in person’s own perspectives and individualised narrowed knowledge, losing the spectrum of the wholeness. Holding a theological concept, in this case Islam, responsible for behaviour of a society or societies is just like blaming Bible for the actions of the nazis, or Geeta over Hindus killing people over cow slaughter, etc., etc. It is no secret who arms the tyrants and dictators controlling muslim populations. And who controls the media to then start pointing fingers. Unfortunately it has become difficult for many to separate out propaganda from the truth.

            Majority of Human beings are naturally good and do not follow evil. There is need to resist being hypnotised by media, politicians and fake news & wars to help us understand how human race in their masses takes on a faith or accept a system, and only then one will come to realise it is not the evil one has fallen for but the good. Because majority of humans are good. It is a separate matter whether one is allowed the opportunity to lead a good life or put under evil control and bombed if did not behave accordingly. It is not too difficult to drive human mind to state of insanity through persecution and deprivation of liberty and when it loses sanity, start pointing fingers.

          • Breadstix

            I think everyone holds religion responsible for society’s behaviors. In this case, when it happens that allahu akbar is yelled seconds before a heinous act is committed, seemingly constantly & all over the world, it’s not a far reach to blame the religion. I used to say *their* interpretation of the religion. But I don’t think that anymore. I think the religion teaches this in the pits of this earth & now in pleasant suburbs & it’s allowed to flourish b/c anyone who criticizes it is branded a racist. Bottom line is this: If the last 28000+ terrorist attacks since 9/11 were committed by Christians, people would be scanning the Bible & searching for scriptures that would give reason as to why Christians were committing such cowardly & heinous acts. BUT…the last 28000+ attacks have not been committed by any other religion but Islam. Why? Why are there pictures on the web of Muslims holding signs that say ‘Islam will dominate the world.’ Why is there calls to hang that guy (sorry forgot his name) b/c he’s accused of blasphemy (and so the hell what if he was blasphemous)? Why can every other religion in the world stand up to criticisms, stand to defend themselves, but Islam & Muslims are the only religion on the face of the Earth that seriously freak the F out when anyone dares to challenge their views? It’s like watching a massive child have a massive tantrum. Every religion has faced persecution, as a matter of fact, according to research in 2016 Christianity was the most persecuted religion in the world…but I do not recall terrorists shooting up a school screaming ‘long live Jesus Christ!’ So you’re right. There is an absolute loss of sanity here. And their deprivation is their own fault. Blaming colonialism & imperialism can only carry a people so far. It’s been fun chatting w/ you. But I’m out. Peace man!

          • Sajjad Rehman

            Same here. Today another 60 American missiles fell on Syria – Iran and Russia called it terrorism, in Christiandom are presented as-saviours, etc.
            I say it is politics not religion. It’s been nice talking. God bless.

          • Sajjad Rehman

            somebody posted this on my Facebook, I checked out the papers and clips to verify being referred to . Only if will of God was allowed to prevail over political and human greed, the world could look a very different place.

          • Dave Kinard

            except those people do so in the name of islam. It would be incorrect to blame the bible for the actions of the nazis. It would be correct however, to put blame on Mein Kampf and definitely correct to put blame on the nazi ideology in general for the crimes of the nazis.

          • Sajjad Rehman

            There is stark difference between a religion and an ideology. Even in case of an ideology, generally what makes an ideology evil is subjective view point. And views formed vary on how one interprets what is being propagated. In all ideologies you’ll find good and evil doers depending on how they interpret and select what they choose to follow and choose to ignore /reject. The point I was trying to make is if it’s fair to blame bible because Nazi ideology was borne out of Christianity and implemented by Christians. I don’t think so.

          • Breadstix

            Then I guess it is taken out of context all the time. And anyone can do it w/ any religious book. That’s not the problem. The problem is the willingness of the majority of the Muslim world to yield to the literal extremes of the book; things like the honor of the men/family being the sole responsibility of the women, punishments for said honor violations, hijab & other covering requirements (esp. if it’s not HER CHOICE to wear it), wife beating, punishments for leaving the faith, and on & on. Even in the U.S ‘moderate’ Muslims turn up on the news for inflicting punishments on their daughters for violating something, & their defense is “it’s my religious right, my 1st Amendment right.” The Christian bible says men aren’t supposed to cut their beards, but if you’ve ever been in a Western country, you’ve probably noticed that most men do not have beards…& it’s not b/c they aren’t Christian. It’s b/c they do not take that particular part of the Bible literally. The other Abrahamic religions have learned to modernize a bit, def some more than others, but Islam is still back in like the friggin 7th century.

          • SentaAPW89

            Islam is a violent, regressive religion, don’t even start with the “out of context” bs
            The MENA is a mess because of both Islam and western “intervention”

      • Dave Kinard

        have you ever even cracked open the hadiths?

        • Sajjad Rehman


  • DaVinci’s Donut

    thank you for helping me understand. I know the modesty doctrine through the Catholic faith, as practiced in Southern California. I can tell you that it’s still a strong influence with moderate Catholics, not just extremist nuns. the underlying idea of tying a woman’s worth to her sexuality is still present. I know Catholic women who have married Muslim men, and converted. I think this was easy for them because the underlying value of women is the same. when I have argued that the hijab is a choice, I was arguing for their right to change religions and still be accepted members of their own Catholic families. when I have argued for respecting the Muslim faith, I was speaking from a point of view of only knowing moderate Muslims, and knowing their homes should not be burned down just because they are not Christian. obviously, I wasn’t speaking with full knowledge of your experience. as an atheist, and a feminist, I need to stand more on the side of rejecting female subjugation through Any religion. I don’t know how to do that without seeming to support the Christian supremacists who want to harm Muslim people. that’s my problem, and I will think about that.
    I appreciate your writing and I encourage you to continue.

    • Krishna Rao

      I hear that a lot by white liberal people in general. They don’t want to look like a racist that is why they defend Islam. The problem with that notion is you do look like a racist because you end up defending some really abhorrent things. Some of which are the same as Christian things you find vile and disgusting. You can be critical of the religion and practices without painting with a broad brush. It takes more critical thinking. It takes more brain power and energy. It takes courage to actually address the problem. The lazy response ends out condoning vale behavior and oppressing ex-believers.

      • Alex anarchas

        I’ve learned to take on being called a “racist” and a “misogynist” by these folks as a badge of honor. If I’m being called names by people who feel threatened by my defending the rights of others, then I’m doing something right. I’ll admit that at first, the fear of ostracization was great, but you get used to it. It’s equally uncomfortable when certain types of people end up thinking you’re on their side for speaking against Islam or peoples silence on this, but they end up going away calling you other names.

        The point being: At first they mock you. Then they fight you. Then, you win.

  • Krishna Rao

    Most Hindu women do not cover their head because of religion. Most don’t even cover their heads. And the few that do, did it because of The legacy of islamic culture in India. They did not want to be raped by muslim rulers of the time. And that was only popular in North India. South India didn’t even have this cultural issue.

  • Sarah Fullerton

    I’m an Canadian ex-Catholic. I’ve hardly even seen a sister wearing a habit. Maybe some of the really older ones, but for the most part, they don’t. Even the practice of women covering their heads when in a church has lapsed.

    • Even if they do, they are doing so by choice, and you must be at least 18 to become a nun.

      • Sarah Fullerton

        I just meant that it is ridiculous to compare the hijab to a lapsed catholic practice.
        “You don’t complain when catholics do it!”
        “Ya, ’cause they don’t anymore.”

  • The comparison between the hijab and other forms of head-covering in the Jewish and Christian faiths is utterly false for several reasons:

    1)- Becoming a nun is an entirely voluntary position, and such a candidate must be at least 18 years of age, with several years of study before becoming fully ordained. However, the hijab can be imposed on girls as young as two or three; I’ve seen this with my own eyes.

    2)- There is a male equivalent of a nun, called a monk. They too, wear modest clothing and must adhere to the same principles of sexual purity, as both monks and nuns believe they have been called to live a pure life. There is no male equivalent of the hijab, and there are many Muslim countries where the sexual crimes of men, like rape, are treated leniently.

    3)- A Christian woman who is not a nun is not obliged to wear headcovering, or a nun’s habit. It would be very strange if they did. However, the hijab is mandatory for all Muslim women and girls according to conventional exegesis.

    4)- Of the Christian women who do wear headcovering (usually Eastern Orthodox), according to Paul’s teachings, there is very little evidence that they are systematically forced to do so, and many wear this covering when in Church– in other words, they may not wear this in their day to day lives. Muslim women and girls have no such option.

    5)- Orthodox Jewish women may often wear headcovering, according to traditional interpretations of the Hebrew Bible. However, women following this exegesis only cover their hair after marriage. Before marriage, and throughout childhood and puberty, they are not required to do so. Again, Muslim women and girls do not have this option.

    6)- Christian and Jewish girls by and large face little to no pressure to cover their hair. Muslim girls do.

    7)- A practicing Christian or Jewish woman who didn’t cover their hair would not be considered an apostate. They would be unlikely to face violence, loss of work, loss of freedom (except in very stringently religious communities, like some of the Charedim). A Muslim woman who did reject hijab would most likely face severe backlash and all of the above from her co-religionists.

    There is simply NO comparison here.

    Also, I am given to understand that headcoverings in Indian culture are not really tied to religion. I thought that this was simply how Indian women dressed. Certainly, if you look at Hindu art, you see women with their hair uncovered.

    • Euphorbia

      I wish to give 20 up votes to your commentary!

  • Alex anarchas

    Not only that, but what woman would ever be shamed for not wanting to be a nun? Yeah, because guess what, its not seen as a sin not to. I don’t even know what to say, when these people put me in a place where I’m defending the catholic church, or at least feel like I am. I don’t even like that religion either!!!

  • buckeyeguy

    Well, I’ve read the whole article and many of the comments posted below. I think the false equivalency is clear and can be stated in a brief manner. The only women in the Catholic church who wear the habit are nuns. Regular female members of the church wear regular clothing. Becoming a Nun is a voluntary decision; becoming a Nun requires completion of a formal training program and they are usually held in high regard by all Christians. A woman who becomes a Nun can choose to leave the occupation without any form of physical punishment. So, the comparison of Nuns in the Catholic church and the wearing of the hijab that is practically universally required of all Muslim women is clearly a false equivalency.

  • Terry Webster

    This site needs a good editor. So much millennial verbiage. Are writers paid by the word?

  • Patch

    I am starting to think that the morons who make the comparison between hijab and a nuns head covering know very well that the situation surrounding the two garments is vastly different, however if they can trick enough people into thinking it is a legitimate argument for pro-hijab Muslims then they will use it.

    Nuns number a few thousand in the UK (where I live). They choose a life of chastity and service to God. Covering their physical form is all part of their expression of devotion to God. Aside from those few thousand nuns, none of the millions of practicing and non-practicing Christians in the

  • Bondan Wijonanto

    Actually, there’s no stoning law in Indonesia. The only province that practice Sharia law is only Aceh but it’s restricted with the national law. The heaviest punishment are caning and imprisonment.