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Veil and Identity

Another argument against the veil is the purported undesirable implication of the dress on the Muslim woman herself. Would the fact that she is dressed differently have negative self-implications in terms of the way she chooses her career, work assignment, work conditions, type and location of job, and the whole nature of the employment contract? Some critics affirm that this is indeed the case. Lazreg, for example, notes the following:

The psychological effect of the veil on its wearer in the workplace is real but seldom acknowledged. The veil... instills in a woman an inchoate sense of her insignificance as a social being. (p. 109)

Lazreg’s observation is based on her analysis as a sociologist although, throughout her work, she refers to anecdotal evidence to support this standpoint. El-Saadawi61 has similar, even stronger, sentiments. She affirms that the type of education that women are subjected to reaffirms patriarchal structures:

... education both at home and in schools - especially religious education- leads women to not realize where their real interests are. They subject themselves to the prevalent way of thinking even when they attain high academic or political positions like becoming university professors, ministers or members of parliament. (p. 65)

According to her, there is no value to what a woman would say if she has been subjected since birth to a brainwashing process. The veil, under this understanding, is a symbol that only suggests that women have no minds: “veiling and nakedness are two sides of the same coin. Both mean women are bodies without mind ... ” (El-Saadawi, 1997, p. 140).62 The veil, according to el-Saadawi, is slavery and it represents an immoral act. A veiled woman herself is a victim of a class society that is capitalistic, patriarchal, and masculine.63

 
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