Friday, September 25, 2009

Are guys scared of girls in hijab?

The other night I was chilling with a friend at an arabic cafe when we bumped into one of the arab med students on campus. He invited himself to join us when right behind him walks in this White girl sporting some booty shorts. She walks up to a shelf displaying shisha accessories for sale and within about 10 seconds of her arrival the owner of the place and another employee happily rushed to her service....and I mean rushed!

"Did you guys just see that?" he said..."um yea!" we both replied. "I didn't get service like that...I actually had to go find him. Man that is discrimination against guys!" and he went on complaining about how unfair it is that it's socially acceptable for men to get discriminated against in society.

I had to chime in and let him know that it's not exactly a guy/girl thing; as a girl who proudly wears hijab I don't get such preferential treatment either. I pointed out that when I go to such places my nonhijabi friends usually get special attention in a way that I don't. I understand that one of the purposes of hijab is to give off a certain image and ward off a certain type of attention....but sometimes the differential treatment crosses into the unfair zone.

As an example I pointed out that I used to frequent this place last year with a Persian, nonhijabi and somewhat of a risque-dresser, friend. Sometimes she would get there before me and thus would be by herself until I showed up. On those instances it wasn't uncommon that by the time I came she would have been served with some complimentary drink, desert, and once even a free hookah. I would either end up mooching on whatever free stuff she got or I would end up ordering something I wanted and paying for it! Not that I would want any greasy server checking me out out of the corner of his eye and winking at me, but it wasn't cool that we both came together, we're both girls, and I would pay but she wouldn't. If I got there first and was waiting for her all alone I didn't get anything more than a cordial greeting.

My nonhijabi friend completely agreed with me and says she notices stuff like that all the time when she goes out with a group of girls mixed with hijabis and nonhijabis alike. Although they all came together and are sitting together, and are socializing in the same manner they're still looked at differently and get different attention. Of course there's a certain type of attention we're thankful to not have, but when our waiter is attentive to every word the girl next to me is saying but completely ignores me like I'm not even there......that's just rude! The irony is this differential treatment is much more obvious in arab settings and it's something that Arab guys practice more than Americans....that's my personal experience!

My nonhijabi friend's theory is that she thinks it's because a lot of guys are just intimidated and maybe even scared by girls that wear hijab. For some guys they look at a girl in hijab and see little else. We might as well be a walking hijab and thus they put up an instant barrier. I'd hate to think that anyone was so judgemental of me, but it doesn't mean there's no truth in it.

Our med student friend was listening like this was the first time he was hearing such observations and then added that it's totally not like that across the board. For him he was always more attracted to girls that wear hijab as opposed to those that don't (awwww how cute)...maybe it's just the way he was raised he concluded.

So what are YOUR thoughts about this trend? I definitely don't want this to turn into a discussion regarding the purpose and/or validity of hijab, that's not the point here. I'm talking specifically about our observation that nonhijabi girls get excluded from preferential treatment that their friends get in social settings-and it's usually by our own kind.

Coincidentally, I didn't end up paying for my coffee or hookah that night :)


Sara said...

well I didnt wear hijab for 19 years of my life and let me tell you. the treatment you get without hijab is wayyyy different to the treatment with hijab. When I didnt wear Hijab men would throw in comments here and there to hint they were interested blah blah. Now I just recieve a respectful smile and theyre more curteous and attentive to my needs not because they want my number but because they see me as a sister i think.

Organica said...

Hmm. I can see where you are getting at. It's the same thing in the working world. I worked with a skinny Blond teacher who was athletic, pretty and funny! I noticed that our male coworkers would talk to her more than me. Questions were always addressed to her and her answers really mattered unlike mine.

It's the world of power as I see it. Hijabis are at the bottom of that hierarchy. Blonds maybe on the top and everything else in the middle?

Now as a hijabi I get differential treatment on the subway! The Muslim dudes won't stop checking me out. *vomit*

asoom said...

Sara, yes definitely there is a special respect that is reserved for hijabis that you'll notice, but do you ever feel like you get bad customer service compared to a girl who doesn't wear hijab or that in some social settings you're completely ignored like you're not even there when your friend next to you in the tank top isn't?

Organica...what you mentioned with the blond is like the perfect example of what I'm talking about. Noone wants guys oogling over them in a perverted manner but when you find that the needs and opinions of your nonhijabi colleagues are heard and addressed more than yours that's just not fair. It just makes you feel like you have to command some attention or go out of your way to prove your worthiness.

Osamah said...

Alsalam wa alaikum

First thing i want to say is you should always be proud of your hijab. I am a guy and i do respect women that whear hijab not scared of but respect. I think you should be happy that men dont treat you like you are just a piece of meat. I am not saying that non hijab wearing girls are bad but some of these girls that dont wear hijab (sometimes bearly wear anything) like you were saying booty shorts are wearing stuff like that to get attenetion from guys. In some peoples view its like advertising what she looks like but not what she is or who she is. I think you shouldnt feel bad that paople dont approach you or treat you different because if they do they are probably not worth talking to anyways. another thing muslim guys will always be looking hijab or no hijab unless they really are good muslims and understand what islam is about and why women wear hijab. So dont be bothered be proud always of what you are and what you are doing and dont let people that treat or look at you different change that in any way then they will understand how strong, smart, and respectful a muslim women is. Take care sisters and b always be proud


Jasmine said...

I think a lot of the time, the guy has a hard time interpreting what the hijab is saying to him ...isd it saying: "my family are really strict" is it saying "marriage only" is it saying "i do not communicate with males" is it saying "I am very religious" - you know? Its hard for them to get what it is saying, so I think they do what is best, and show caution until they understand and then relax as they get to know you

Anonymous said...

Wow, this post makes me feel embarrased. As an American young male (22), non-muslim who lived in Syria for a year , I must say that women wearing hijab was a cultural shock. Since I'm not a Muslim, I always felt that women who wore hijab wouldn't want to even speak to me, just to borrow a pen or ask about homework. I noticed that a lot of my Muslim friends didn't really interact with hijabi's, so I figured that was the culturally appropriate thing to do. I did have some female friends (one was Alawi I think)but they were all non-hijabis. I don't really see many women in hijab now that I'm back in the US, but what really are the boundaries between courtesy? Is it only appropriate to speak to hijabis in a service setting like a cafe? I feel like a bit of a jerk now that I've read your post and thought about how I just tried to screen out the hijabi girls when I lived in Damascus, thinking that was the polite thing to do to them and what they wanted.

asoom said...

Osamah, jasmine, and anon...thank you very much for your comments I definitely enjoyed reading them and it gave me something to think about.

Anon, yes I really hope that this post made you think differently. Don't try to hug a girl in hijab, but definitely don't ignore her or view her as a mass produced piece of walking human. View her as an individual!

Anonymous said...

I totally understand what you are saying, i am a hijabi girl that has been in a private school until high school. Did not know anything about public school. I thought the guys in some of my classes were total jerks. they would completely ignore me and look at me weird or pretend like i'm not there. So did the girls there. It was ridiculous. I guess they thought I was weird? One time I was in class and this girl and guy was going around asking if people had a piece of gum. The girl asked the guy to ask me and he was just like naaah and looked away. It was kind of rude. I was like what, you know what I have but won't give you.Another time a guy was asking for a pencil, he asked the whole class except me, i was furious, and still am. Again i had a pencil but didn't give it. But i do have a lot of nice guy freinds.Some ignore me when they are with there cool freinds or whatever. All these things I have to live with. :/

Anonymous said...

Assalam Alaikum.When my mom told me to start wearing the hijab after some bad incidences happened, i somehow rebelled but alhamdullilah i realized my stupidity quickly and listened. But i go to a public school in a non-muslim country and i'll be the only one wearing it with my sis. It feels really tough cz even a taecher in my class makes fun of arabs and muslims of how they write from going right to left instead of the opposite and stuff... but i dont want to give any thought to not wearing a hijab cuz what matters most is respecting Allah and also ur parents decisions for u. Our moms know whats best for us. salam :D

Aysha said...

Im really worried about this. Although i wont like if a guy starts flirting or makes obnoxious remarks but what is it in talking? Guys in my class are literally scared to talk to me :/ anyhow, i still cannot imagine that there are guys who actually want to talk and give respect to a hijabi .., i havent seen any honestly..

Anonymous said...

Hi, I would like to comment about hijabs being at the bottom and blondes at the top. Maybe it was like that two years ago when you posted this comment but that is not the case now! Hijabs are praised everywhere they go by everyone! They are adore and respected! What more could a hijabi want?!

Anonymous said...

Inncorrect. It is saying I respect holy prophet muhmaad (SwA) and I am a respectable Muslim female who is close with Allah

Anonymous said...

Wow! "screen out hijabi girls"

Hahaha, first of all....
Women especially hijabi women do NOT want men like you to TALK to them. Therefore it is advisable and respectable to communicate with your own kind. Meaning: White Women in booty shorts! And downright NOT our hijabi's!

Anonymous said...

Ahahahha! I feel your pain! I am also in high school... Although I wear hijab and guys try to talk with me often and ask me such questions like what I got on a test or quiz of how I am doing. It is kind of disguising and I do not say a word! I ignore them! I do not understand why I am a girl wearing a hijab and have all this kind of attention? Anyways I recommend you ignore these boys and people and they have nothing better to do. ;) be yourself and always be proud! Email me: (if you want, I am a girl) ;) hahah. But Ignore these people as they are probably just trying to get your attention because they like you.. Haha.. Don't let them get your attention, they don't deserve it.
Best! :)

Anonymous said...

Mash'Allah what a respectable beautiful girl you are! As I have said in above responses do not worry about other people. You are beautiful in hijab! Mash'Allah! What else can I say?

Anonymous said...

Where do you go to school? Because clearly it is not a Muslim country as boys and girls are not separated. I personally wear hijab, and mean are Not at all scare of me instead they come up to me more and flirt with me and sit by me. Disgusting! I do not say a word to them and simplify ignore them as they are non-existent. My advise to you is to ignore such people completely and be proud of Wearing the hijab! I love love love wearing it compared to when I did not wear hijab.. Haha and you say you do not like of a guy flirts with you buy then you are worried about them being scared of you? Let them be scared! If you do not care, why should it matter? Be happy with the hijab! It makes girls beautiful !


(p.s I am from a western society and go to public school also)


Anonymous said...

AsSalamu Aleikum!

This post is so true. I feel exactly the same way. I went to public school in the U.S. and know I am in college. I feel that both guys and girls ignore me. Sometimes I sense that they are intimidated or something and I have no clue why. I won't harm them I swear lol. Anyways I am so proud to be muslim & wear hijab. Although it can get lonely, I've gotten used to this so it is whatever for me now even though it sucks...but Alhamdulillah for everything :)
Thank you for the post, I've been giving more thought to this issue recently and I'm glad I found and read this :)

Fe aman Allah everyone.

Anam said...

although this was posted in 2009 but still this issue isn't resolved,
i am a hijabi and med student....i completely understand the problems we have been discussing..
i hate to say this but even living in a muslim country people are not open to the idea of hijab.
sometimes the difference ppl make in a hijabi and non hijabi gets on ur nerves. for instance in colg some teachers get this idea that just because i am wearing a hijab i am not smart enough and they won't even look at me while making a conversation, and leave me feeling like a fool. Nd if i try to participate my idea wouldn't be floated....i really dont like this repulsive feeling sometimes coming from muslim females as well.
the worst part is that when u have to attend non-segregated weddings where ur hijab is the object of ridicule....ppl would come to u and say " come on, atleast take it off today look no one else is wearing it, and its just family ur uncles and cousins"
its not that my emaan is weak sometimes it just gets very difficult to handle these kind of people. there are three categories non-hijabi, hiajbai and then occasional hijabis..
i am tired of being related to these occasional hijabis and being offered the same solution
how is it acceptable to take of ur hijab in front of ur non-mahram cousins??
any advise?
how to avoid these annoying questions?

Tamzyn said...

I started wearing hijab when I was eleven, I'm now seventeen, soon to be eighteen. In hindsight I think I probably started wearing my hijab too early, mainly because I was too young to fully understand it.
I do think there is a difference in the attitude guys have between hijabis and non-hijabis, but I do believe a lot of that is within the control of the girl in question.
When I started wearing my hijab (through completely my own choice) I was very conscious and aware of how it would change my relationships with my classmates, particularly the boys. I suppose after starting high school I had known them long enough before hand that the change wasn't so dramatic.
The comments I read before where people mentioned the fact that some men would perhaps misunderstand the meaning of wearing hijab, perhaps by thinking its a family issue or a barrier are totally true. I've found that with other women as well in fact, where I can tell they are curious but shy to ask for fear of offending me. My mother is Scottish, and hasn't been Muslim all her life, so I am very multicultural myself. I always make a conscious effort to encourage people to ask me questions and familiarize themselves with my religion so that they can be more comfortable with me as a person :)
One thing that I was determined to do however, immediately after putting on my scarf, was to step away from the "typical personna" and stop my hijab from being the first thing people think of when they hear my name. As a person I am very outgoing, with a bizarrely varied music taste, I'm creative and a bit crazy at times. I consider myself to be a goth in many ways, surprisingly enough, from my makeup and clothes to my mindset and attitude. I know the idea of a gothic Muslim woman sounds a bit odd but I'm an odd person, deal with it. In any case I have found that being an open chatty person with a drive to express yourselves can change people's perceptions of you, regardless of whither or not you wear a piece of fabric over your head to symbolize your love and devotion to a religion. I'm at university now, studying architecture with a brand new crowd of new faces, and I have yet to notice a difference in attitude towards me from the guys, which is nice. My opinions and answers are heard just as much as the next girls, but that is because I have stepped away from the barrier and let people in. Hope this makes sense, and that it encourages other bothered hijabis to make a difference for themselves :)

kyokitten said...

hello i'am a 19 years old girl i have been wearing hijab for 5 years now and i really like it , true i live in a muslim country and all but still nonhijabi have special attention but why would i need that kind of attention when its full of disguesting desire and nothing like respect , more than that if you clearly think about it you will see that the way people look at you is nice kind and full of appreciation even if they dont say it . stay strong sisters even if its hard for you but again its really worth it :)

Fishi said...

Anonymous.. you might be only referring to yourself here..
I am a hijabi too, muslim ofcourse. We do not mind your kind talking to us as long as the conversation and the way you talk to us is respectful. I have many white guy friends and most of then have had the same perception as you did..