Friday, April 16, 2010

Peers or Jeers: Muslim women celebrated in new calendar.

Shazia Javed a local photographer will be featuring a calendar of local Canadian Muslim women of distinction. Muslim women will be showcased as intelligent, thinking human beings, both as educators and in the everyday workforce.

Ms. Javed's intent it seems is to dispel rumours about Muslim women, Muslim women many of us have witnessed as subservient females seen in Middle Eastern media footage. Some women, but not all, will wear head coverings.

This story today will centre on the societal effects of the Hijab, Canadian teen females, body image and fashion in society, marketers and peer pressure all young ladies face.

It is yet to be seen how this calendar will play out among younger pre and teen Canadian Muslim girls in Canada.

Without the head covering or Hijab, could any Canadian tell the difference between a Canadian Muslim woman or any non Muslim Canadian woman? It is highly doubtful anyone could.

Will a Canadian female Muslim teen look to this calendar as a role model to follow, which photo will she look upon favourably, the Hijab or the non Hijab photo?

If a Canadian Muslim teenager, without her families strict influence were to choose, without interference or discipline, which photo would a young Muslim teen identify with? If the public reaction to Burka Barbie is any indication, young ladies may go with the non Hijab photos in order to conform to Canadian society.

Teen girls, by and large are Daddy’s girls, the apple of a father’s eye, they can do no wrong. Yet when out as a group of female teens, for some reason the claws of conformity come out. Sometimes this extends to adulthood. There is a reason why girls are called “Catty”!

What chance would a young Canadian Muslim girl have wearing a Hijab, growing up, wanting acceptance, especially in a public high school setting?

Young ladies today, trying to fit in, regardless if they are Muslim, wear a Hijab or anything that singles them out as different can be the victim of jeers amongst their female peers, including boys, a mother and a father’s worst nightmare. It would be nice if those who throw cruel taunts at others could see the consequences of their actions through a parent's eyes.

Unless a young Muslim girl attends a Muslim school, much like the Catholic schools and school uniforms of old, they will be seen as different. Some in society forget that!

Little of us remember a time pre 1970s, head coverings were the norm for women, especially many women would don them when entering church on Sunday. My, how times have changed.

We all remember media stories and Canadian public outrage when it was reported that Canadian Sikh school boys wearing a dagger (Kirpan) for religious purposes was seen by some as a danger to their non dagger carrying children.

Yet for many Canadian and American baby boomers, Boy scouts included, carrying a pocket knife to school was a normal everyday occurrence, a rite of passage to manhood. Were mass murders committed? Hell No, maybe a few school yard foot injuries from knife throwing games, but rarely were knives used in anger.

1960’s Liberal policy changed all that, in their quest to protect society from anything sharp and pointy.

It is yet to be seen how this Muslim women calendar will play out, some men in particular some Muslim men on the extreme side may take exception to any women shown in photos, but if it takes a calendar to show Muslim women in Canada in a positive light, showcasing a woman can be anything they choose, then, perhaps it is a calendar whose time has come.

Time will tell if this calendar will be a big seller marketing wise amongst young Muslim teens who wish to fit in among their Canadian teenage peers.

Society and Abercrombie and Fitch style marketing and other Tween fashionista's have ensured of that.

As parents, not matter what we say or do, we may find all young ladies growing up will be reluctant to walk down the road less traveled, but if their independence into adulthood is what we wish for, then is it not a young lady's passage into adulthood to choose to conform or not?

No parent wants to see their pride and joy ostracized or hurt by the peers, as we try in vain to instill the values in our children, especially our daughters, beginning at a very young age that peer pressure, differences, intelligence and self worth begin at home and not the school yard, regardless of head coverings.

After all, if change is to begin, it's with us, them and future generations.

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