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mo melanin, mo problems // nonwestern futurisms // editor, THE STATE, contributing editor The New Inquiry // dxb, uae


A friend of mine is a woman who loves women and wears hijab by choice. I know another woman who calls herself “a woman who acts like a man,” and her ‘butchness’ coupled with her religious choices confuses people around her to the degree that it affects her emotionally, often isolating her. There are trans* Indonesians who wear hijab and go to religious schools, despite being told they’re unwelcome in any heaven. This diversity and these contingencies are not news to women who identify as Muslim, of all shapes and sizes and colors and nationalities. What I’m wondering is why and how we overwhelmingly treat image and identity as static, particularly in ‘othering’—as though a decision to wear hijab is always forever, and so is a decision to take it off. Not everyone thinks exhaustively about spirituality in relation to the garments we choose. We all have our notions of what is ‘proper’ and ‘improper,’ what is ‘safe,’ ‘comfortable,’ and ‘uncomfortable,’ and my point is that this changes imperceptibly by the millisecond—for all of us. Inner life is mutable, yet we treat things as absolute. Some Western media portray ‘women of cover’—as one friend cheekily coined—as oppressed, and some conservative Islamic media portray them as ideal women, rather than all people as complicated, constantly-changing, with social, personal, sexual, psychological, political, cultural, and economic contexts we negotiate on a daily basis. (via durian amok: fluid beasts/hija-beasts | THE STATE)

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