Boom or bust: hijab, and the juggle

Pauline Marois
(Pauline) Marois says she views the Muslim headscarf as a form of submission, incompatible with male-female equality, and a daycare worker wearing such a veil could influence children.

This particular quote in a Globe and Mail article on the charter proposed by Parti Québécois, limiting the display of religious symbols in Quebec—an attempt to advocate ‘the principle of neutrality in the public service’—got me thinking.
Is that what you see… when you look at headscarf-clad (referred to as hijab, in popular culture) me?
Marois is correct in that the Muslim headscarf is ‘a form of submission.’ But a more important point of concern is, submission to whom? Submission to an authority figure you are afraid of is very different from submission to a God you love.
The Mirror, April 26, 1972
And as far as the latter is concerned, celibacy outside of wedlock, the pro-life movement, and male circumcision are all equally valid controversies, but still widely accepted (by which, I mean: still without a proposed charter currently in place advocating ‘the principle of neutrality in the public service’).
As for ‘male-female equality,’ I don't believe such a concept truly exists. While the sexes may equally be privy to both virtue and vice, the struggle that goes into being any kind of woman is incomparable to that of a man. From glass ceilings and bearing children to reevaluating life and your actual jean size—even in times of ease—there is much anxiety lying in wait.
About the influence ‘wearing such a veil’ could have on children, it is just as absurd to assume that simply because their daycare worker doesn't, said child will cease to go on in life and take binge drinking a little too far, overdose on their last hit, or even vote Conservative (if the NDP is your thing, and because, really—the Liberals are so yesterday) to cite a few examples.
Barring immigrant nerds like myself a decade ago, there is only so long that an authority figure can hope to hold on to the prescribed behavior of young ones in this day and age.
Eighteen years old
Speaking of which, I did not always wear hijab.
And at the time, it was primarily one of the two boxes I had reserved for those who did—women whose standard of piety I either had no interest in, or, could never ever hope to aspire to, and so inevitably, had to shoot down. 

Only after having embraced it long enough did I realize how imperfect those aspiring to (just about) anything, could really be.
So, no. Marois does not infuriate me—she may have the resources to propose a charter that is discriminatory, but certainly isn't the only woman guilty of making a blatant judgment call against her own sex.
Everything else in my life that people continue to associate with my hijab however, does.
Yet another reason that as an ideology, multiculturalism is characteristically flawed. Clustering a group of people that look like they represent one faith or ethnicity in particular, is essentially taking away from the sum of their cumulative experiences as individuals, and—as a result—their worldview.
And since the only individual I can speak for is myself, here goes nothing.
Hijab is an aspiration. Much like I aspire to eat fruit on a daily basis, I aspire to excel in my understanding of faith. Hijab is not material proof that one is perfect practitioner of all ways Muslim, or as Marois likes to think, devout upholder of patriarchy under the embroidered facade that is tradition and culture.
At least that is not at all who I am—a weak and decrepit specimen of the otherwise pious species that are Muslim women is more like it, if you ask me.
The very essence of faith is that it works in tandem with being human, with being a concerned citizen, a hard and loyal worker, an honest sportsperson, a considerate neighbor, a respectful team member, a thoughtful friend, and so on—in pursuit of everything that makes this world (and subsequently, the next) better, and before all else, being kind to yourself. That not one of these is alien from what truly makes a person of faith.
I wear hijab, yes; but in no way am I devoid of the wide-ranging desires, hopes, and fears that preoccupy an average twenty-six-year-old woman in the first world.
Body image

First world problems
My weighing scale has seen every measure of pounds between 198 and 141, and not once do I remember feeling completely secure about my body. This could be attributed to a number of reasons: weight bullies in the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, you-know-where-I-am-going-with-this grades, Archie comics and how Betty was so good and so kind yet always looked so perfect (obviously, there had to be a connection somewhere that clearly only I was missing) as I grew older, or an abusive and demoralizing ex-husband in more recent years.
But take away the hijab, and—irrespective of even the best lighting, in the fanciest powder room, in the most elite of dining establishments—I would still find this woman looking back at me in the mirror, somewhat lacking.

Women close to me will tell you that I talk about sex a lot. There is just something about comprehending—what Carrie Bradshaw once so infamously phrased—‘the weight of a man on me’ that I find indescribable.
And italicizing the word ‘man’ is my attempt to distinguish adult members of the opposite sex from those yet unfamiliar with (or deliberately ignorant of) the concept that is manhoodalso singularly known as ‘boy.’
Members who understand that no—by any and all means—is still a no, that if a particular intimate act is discomforting to the other person, it is not merely ideal, but in fact mandatory to stop right away; and most importantly, that the difference between making sweet love and having rough sex has no bearing on the common denominator that is treating your partner with respect.

Spouse, lover, friend, or stranger—sex is also how you get to know a person. But all trimmings such as fantasy, intimacy, love, marriage (and especially, hijab) aside, the one thing I will never again allow in my life is a sexual partner who does not respect me.

‘Certified print nerd’ is my phrase of choice, when describing the field of work I am in. Developing an adult relationship with books (Anne Frank’s diary at seven years old) before I even hit double digits in the age bracket, persevering in the production of mechanicals despite no such responsibility listed as that of yearbook editor both junior and senior year, and an unhealthy obsession with the execution of branding—one you could touch and feel, not just hear and see—through the medium that is print have each played a key role in its concoction.
Certified print nerd
What can I say? I love print.
I also love talking shop, project management, the SUM function in Excel (not that math on paper isn't fun!), proofreading symbols, image resolution that is just high enough, troubleshooting the exhilarating and the mundane, a hard copy colour proof, confirmations of media release, etc., etc. Heck, even my favourite colour is a scientific value—one hundred percent magenta.
I believe that protocol matters, that science devoid of explicit strategy—irrespective of the astounding technological advancements in our industry—is of very little use to the brand, and most importantly, that success isn't at all a speedy move up the ladder, but the steady pursuit of honesty and dedication on each rung.
But, you. All you see is what you think that piece of cloth on my head represents.
The assumption is that Islamic ideology (and hence, practice) is linear. Everywhere I go—events in the community, congregations on university campuses, modest equivalents of girls' night out, or even amidst complete strangers in public—I see many a woman, headscarf-clad, under this immense pressure, struggling to juggle (or at least understand) who they are as individuals, and what they should ideally represent as good Muslims. Turmoil that is, at best, relentless.
'Equal in humanity'
To be absolutely clear, this is not a jab at what ideal representation should be; it is about categorizing women of faith as a single body—one that does not evolve, is disconnected from fellow beings of other faiths (or, in some cases, no faith), and is uninterested in the common good (or at least good that is not Muslim).
The process of understanding oneself should not lead to the (unwilling) abandonment of faith, merely because the resulting discovery happens to be a far cry from what is ideal.
In no way proud of the fact, but, I am a bad Muslim. And in one way or another, I fail at virtue everyday. That does not consequently mean I am a bad person, or that I don’t love God, or that I must take off my hijab because not doing so would make me a hypocrite, to list a few extreme conclusions that could be deduced.
I have come to understand that perfectionspiritual, physical, or otherwiseis (not someplace far up above and into the clouds, but) for one to evolve continuously, that you and I: we were born to fail, born to fall, and born to get back up, that only after which, can success truly be determined.

With all due respect to Pauline Marois, I for one have much bigger fish to fry.
And for times when this perspective begins to elude me, I fall back on something exquisite that Ali ibn Abi Talib, cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad, once said.

Ali ibn Abi Talib

I am amazed at the heart of (wo)man: It possesses the substance of wisdom, as well as the opposites contrary to it... for if hope arises in it, it is brought low by covetousness; and if covetousness is aroused in it, greed destroys it. 
If despair possesses it, self-pity kills it; and if it is seized by anger, this is intensified by rage. 

If it is blessed with contentment, then it forgets to be careful; and if it is filled with fear, then it becomes preoccupied with being cautious. If it feels secure, then it is overcome by vain hopes; and if it is given wealth, then its independence makes it over-extravagant. If want strikes it, then it is smitten by anxiety.

If it is weakened by hunger, then it gives way to exhaustion; and if it goes too far in satisfying its appetites, then its inner becomes clogged up. So all its shortcomings are harmful to it, and all its excesses corrupt it.

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