“It’s just a vehicle for your soul; it’s what you’ve been given.”
Hold a Conversation
In addition to the questions below, please see How to use the questions for reflection.
- How does the speaker explain her dad’s paranoia and insistence on her walking next to him?
- What reasons does she give for wearing a headscarf? How is this different than the assumptions she thinks people make?
- How does the speaker respond to being asked a question by the woman in T.J. Maxx?
- Should the father be paranoid? Do we ever have a responsibility to change our behavior because of how other people view us?
- Was it appropriate for the woman in T.J. Maxx to ask her question? Why/not? Are there ever times when it’s inappropriate? When?
- What does she mean when she says, “It’s just natural reactions.”
- What do we need individually and socially to challenge stereotyping?
Let us know how the conversation or self-reflection went. Email us or discuss the experience in our comment box.
Transcript for 100 Different Stereotypes in a Second
I’m pretty sure the majority of people who see me are, like, a hundred different stereotypes go through their minds in a second. So, like, an assumption might be, for example, oppression is usually thought up, like, you know, women are of inferior status. So my dad is always paranoid and is like, “Walk next to me. Don’t ever walk behind me.” You know? Things like that. You’re more aware of that, I guess.
I think that’s the most common stereotype is that, you know, especially with a scarf, like she wouldn’t wear that or dress like that out of free choice. She obviously does it because someone makes her do it. In the Quran, it doesn’t say anything explicitly. It says to draw your covers around you and cover your chest and things like that so that you aren’t harassed, I guess. But the majority of people interpret it to wear a scarf over to cover, and then you wear long sleeves and long pants, or a dress, or a skirt or something.
This is just my personal opinion is that it’s to temper vanity. You don’t put as much attention or effort into your appearance and take as much pride in your appearance which isn’t really in your hands in the first place. It’s just a vehicle for your soul in a way, and you’re not supposed to sit there primp and preen for hours. And then, you know, it shouldn’t be a source of pride. You shouldn’t be something where it’s like, “Oh, I’m prettier than so and so,” or to compare because it’s just what you’ve been given. You know, that’s something that was predetermined. You had no say in it, so it’s not really an achievement, and it’s also shouldn’t be something to be blamed for.
And it took awhile to get to that point. I didn’t have this like philosophical epiphany, like “Oh, I should do this for this reason exactly.” Like I didn’t really know why I did it. I did it because my mom wore it, and I admired her, and I wanted to. And then as I grew older, I started thinking about it more, and that’s sort of what I came to the conclusion.
Like, for example, a lady at – was it Marshall’s or something? No, T.J. Maxx. She was like, “Oh, so do you get to choose who you marry?” and things. The idea of arranged marriage. And she was like, “Oh, so do you get to choose who you marry, how does it work?” and things. And I’m like, this isn’t something you ask someone randomly. I mean, there’s obviously this idea in your head of what is the case and you want to see if it’s true, if it matches up to reality. And I’m glad that she asked me because I had an opportunity to answer and say, “Well, no, and in fact, religiously speaking, you can’t force a girl to marry someone she doesn’t want to. It’s not a legally valid marriage.” And it could be for a completely dumb reason like he’s not cute or his teeth are weird or something. She has a right to reject a proposal. Of course, people always have preconceived notions. I have preconceived notions, I mean… once you get to know someone, it’s harder to hold those stereotypes. And if someone is smiling at you, you can’t really sit there and be like, “You’re the spawn of the devil!” You know, you, like, smile back. It’s just natural reactions.