A few weeks in the past, so-called “Muslim Twitter” erupted into flames over a seemingly innocuous tweet. Hijab-wearing consumer @zaanarah tweeted how she didn’t wish to sit beneath the celebrities and drink sizzling chocolate on her marriage ceremony night time; she wished to have intercourse together with her new husband. This sentiment is nothing out of the atypical. It’s a completely pure inclination. However, judging by the response to her tweet, it’s unacceptable for a Muslim girl to specific any sexual want — even inside the bounds of marriage. The younger girl’s tweet was viciously mocked. Most of the (male) commenters have been berating her audacity, labelling the tweet as shameful and wanton. “Girls like you and who think like you should be thrown into the nearest [trash] bin,” replied one consumer.
The authentic tweeter was promptly labelled a ‘hoejabi.’ As described in Romaissaa Benzizoune’s June 29th NYT opinion article “How to be a Hoejabi,” the time period is a composite of the phrases “hoe” and “hijabi.” Apparently, a hijab-wearing woman — or “hijabi” — who’s open about wanting intercourse on her marriage ceremony night time is the same as a ‘hoe.’ While there is no such thing as a universally accepted customary for what defines a ‘hoe,’ it’s typically understood that a hoe is a promiscuous girl — usually the antithesis of a married girl. Reading Benzizoune’s article reminded us of this incident and of the obstacles Muslim ladies face when stepping out of their preset identities.
Benzizoune’s piece touched upon the awkward area many American Muslim ladies discover themselves in. As she noticed, Muslim ladies (particularly these sporting the hijab) face an array of preconceived assumptions. Both inside and particularly exterior the Muslim group, we’re typically assigned one-dimensional personalities. We’re supposed to remain inside the virgin/spouse/mom limits, shouldering the burdens of the group in addition to its self-respect. We’re the bearers of religiosity and piety — which can also be the case for girls in most different main religions. Though each hijabis and non-hijabis are held to larger requirements than Muslim males, the previous are extra strictly morally-policed. Perhaps it is because we’re visibly Muslim in a world that fears and is uncertain of Islam.
As hijabis, we’re held to larger measures of ethical piety and considered one-dimensional madonnas (or barbaric extremists, decide your stereotype). Our lives are assumed to revolve solely round faith. Because of this, we incite gasps of shock and shock after we say our favourite present is the The Walking Dead, or ask if others learn the newest Stephen King e book. It’s as if the hijab hasn’t simply hidden our hair and our bodies, but additionally consumed our complete personhood. Our complexities, our multidimensional personalities, our very humanity is lowered to our exterior appearances and spiritual selections — a few of that are assumed based mostly on the hijab alone.
When we make this level, many individuals reply with, “Well, if it’s that big of a problem, why not take the damn thing off?” Let us be completely clear — for us, it was a religiously-based option to put on the hijab. What we didn’t select, nevertheless, was the sudden taboo towards talking about pure human emotions or the made-up restriction towards sporting pink lipstick. In that sense, we wholeheartedly agree with Benzizoune’s observations.
However, the ‘hoejabi’ debate complicates the difficulty. Benzizoune’s reclamation of the time period lacks a deeper understanding.
Linguistically, the phrase might symbolize the center floor Muslim ladies are by no means afforded. In basic, the 2 main feminine tropes are the virgin (which progresses to ‘the mother’) and the whore (or ‘hoe’). Adapted for the Muslim group, the ‘hijabi’ represents the virtuous virgin determine.
According to Benzizoune, ‘hoejabi’ must be reclaimed as a phrase that gives Muslim ladies a regular, impartial base to specific sexuality. It is, supposedly, a liberating phrase. Benzizoune makes use of the instance of Muslim porn-star Nadia Ali as an excessive instance of a hoejabi.
This is the place Benzizoune’s complete argument falls aside.
Let’s again up and begin with the time period itself, ‘hoejabi.’ As described by Benzizoune, sure, it’s a mocking label. And sure, it’s used to make enjoyable of Muslim ladies who dare to fall exterior the preconceived classes. The phrase is employed to dismiss and demean any Muslim girl who dares to be a advanced human being with various wants, motivations and ranges of religion. It can also be solely used as a slur in direction of hijab-wearing Muslim ladies. It is just not a liberating center floor. Rather, it’s one other caging categorization thrown on us by — sure, you guessed it — (Muslim) males.
In specific, it’s the ugly creation of whom the Twitterverse refers to as ‘wallah bros.’ This subset of Muslim males appear to thrive not on oxygen however on policing ladies’s our bodies. To them, a peeking strand of hair, a swipe of brilliant lipstick, or a stylish pair of excessive heels on a hijabi is seen as damaging to the ethical fiber of the group. Yet, it’s completely okay for these males up to now, flirt, and mainly partake in precise ‘hoe’ habits. When a Muslim man dates and flirts, he’s merely labelled as a misguided sinner. If a Muslim girl does it, she’s branded as a poisonous ‘hoejabi’.
Benzizoune’s argument is problematic exactly as a result of she conflates the supposed promiscuity and habits that encapsulates ‘hoe behavior’ with exterior appearances and customary sartorial selections. ‘Hoejabi’ has nothing to do with appearing in any type or form as a ‘hoe.’
In reality, hoejabi is usually used to explain hijabis who don’t gown in accordance with the rules set by orthodox Islamic rulings. That mentioned, the time period is a linguistic consequence of Muslim extremism and policing Muslim ladies’s our bodies. Being a hoe or porn star is miles away from sporting tight-fitted garments or speaking to male pals — behaviors usually stamped as ‘hoejabi’ traits.
Instead of looking for a center floor between the 2 conventional feminine tropes, why can’t we break away from this categorical mindset utterly? Wouldn’t that be extra liberating than mashing collectively two confining constructs?
Perhaps this restricted assemble is as a result of dearth in each up to date and Islamic materials by Muslim ladies for Muslim ladies, particularly on taboo subjects reminiscent of sexuality and gender points. However, nuance is significant for a fruitful dialogue.