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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tessa's Experience

...During our class trip to Turkey, we had the opportunity to meet with students from the Gülen movement. After reading about this organization for some time, I was interested in finding out whether it really was the way it had been portrayed in the books. I spoke with a young man that was around my age about how the school served as more of a structure for the students’ faith, towards which they could opt in or out. We eventually moved on to the subject of the headscarf and contrasted the hazy meaning I had interpreted it to be with what it meant to him. He explained how it was simply an extension of other types of clothing, used to cover ones’ private body parts from the public gaze. This meant to him that, it wasn’t necessarily just a symbol of someone’s religiosity but could simply be representative of a woman’s sense of modesty for the public sphere. He attempted to explain this in a way I’d better understand, referring to the attire a woman would consider appropriate for the office scene in the United States. In this sense we discussed the length of skirts and the plunging neckline of a low cut shirt. He asked how a woman would feel if there were norms stating how long her skirt could be or saying that the neck and bosom had to be visible to the public. For Muslim women, he continued, the request or order to remove the headscarf sounded similar to the example of the office attire. This reasoning was further supported by a conversation with a woman whom I interviewed in the streets of Istanbul. When asked why she wore a headscarf she exclaimed “Well, why do you wear a shirt? Comfort, I feel comfortable leaving my house when my hair is covered, so I wear a headscarf.” After these interviews, it became apparent that the headscarf wasn’t simply donned because the Koran dictated it, nor was it always a matter of what parents or husbands expected. It became more and more understandable that the symbol of identity that the headscarf had been explained as so many times, was an idea I found acceptable...

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