As Spain considers banning the the burqa in public, let’s celebrate Muslim women’s agency to wear whatever they want through a beautiful photo series of Malaysian women with and without their hijabs.
This series, shot by photographer Francisco Guerrero in 2011, shows 9 different women with and without their cover of choice, and the accompanying text explains some of his motivations behind the series.
The general western argument is that the headscarf is a symbol of the oppression that Muslim women are subjected to by their male counterparts, society and religion. I hear this argument again and again in media reports surrounding the debate. But this opinion is always voiced by non-Muslim women. On the rare occasion that a Muslim woman is asked her opinion ,they are usually looked down upon and treated as a poor ignorant immigrant who doesn’t know any better.
However it may make you feel to see women with and without their hijabs, remember, it’s not about you. Women everywhere have (or should have) the choice to wear or do or say what they please. Wearing a hijab, or a scarf, or a burqa, or a niqab, is a woman’s choice, and it should not be anyone else’s place to judge that decision, or to call that decision oppression. These portraits show these 9 women’s right to choose how they dress, and to express their moods, faith, beliefs, fashion sense, or cultural background in the clothes they wear. When people come from a different culture or background, it can be harder to see their feminism, or sexism, or racism or any other kind of -ism as it is expressed. That is one of the reasons that France, Spain, and Belgium, among many other European countries, have proposed laws banning different types of Muslim women’s clothing. But to quote Jos Truitt from a 2011 article on the banning of the face veil in France, “what kind of feminism supports the imposition of behaviors and values on women by a government?”