The debate over sexual harassment is a deep and nuanced one, but it does boil down to the fact that men must be educated to respect boundaries and propriety, and these ladies’ recollection of their experiences wearing a hijab proves it.
Often, one of the less savory but unfortunately common refrains heard from some sections of society when a particularly heinous case of sexual harassment, and god forbid, rape, comes to light tends to be some variation of “she asked for it”. The insinuation, of course, is that if a woman is dressed revealingly, she must be signalling to the available men in her vicinity that she is sexually available. This is often accompanied by the suggestion that women at large should dress conservatively to avoid unwanted attention, but as this Twitter thread shows, the truth is much more complex.
The innocuous question posed by user @nowmytaleistold quickly became a megathread, where women from all over Malaysia shared their experiences of being sexually harassed despite wearing the hijab or dressing conservatively. One even shared a story of how her ex masturbated to a picture of her wearing a hijab and studying. EWWW!
Quite simply, the hijab did not save these women from harassment, and the only common denominator is that a man perpetrated the harassment. While dressing conservatively or sexily is a choice that no one except you can make, it’s important to remember that your choice doesn’t make you responsible for the behavior of other people around you.
If you are experiencing harassment, please do report the circumstances to the relevant authorities. We believe that this is the time for women to be heard, and our thoughts are with all the brave women who contributed to the thread above, and with the ones still silent out there.