A Woman Without Hijab is Like a Chair with Three Legs

If you still haven’t figured out that wearing black chadors will save your worldly soul and that wearing lipstick and heels will get you sent to the hellfire, Iran’s “Cyber Group for Promoting Chastity and the Veil [Ifaf]” is here to clear that up for you.  They are sponsored by the Iranian government and have a sleek website where you can view their posters, buy t-shirts, and brush up on hijab laws in Iran!

They have a new ad campaign for “good hijab” (because, you know, chastity really only has to do with women) that includes its centerpiece, “A woman without hijab is like a chair with three legs” (poster pictured on right). The ad campaign has several posters, which range from the strange and incomprehensible to the skeevy, yet well done.  But their message is clear: women without hijab aren’t real, practicing Muslim women and are intellectually and spiritually incapable of measuring the dangers presented by their clothing choices.

“A woman without hijab is like a chair with three legs” is the most incomprehensible of the posters for me, both visually and textually. Why three legs?  Because we as women are somehow incomplete without hijab? Lacking in a solid foundation? Because we can’t be used to sit on? Clothes can do all that? Really?

A second poster (pictured below left) shows a red stiletto on a platform that is being sawed through. Once the sawing is complete, the stiletto will undoubtedly plunge, along with its wearer, straight into the hellfire.  By way of explanation, this poster simply says “Feminism” in two languages, most likely implying that the road to hell is paved with feminists! Also, are red stilettos feminist, then?

Another jewel in the collection is “Eyes are a trap of the devil. Imam Ali (A.S.)”  Does it really refer to the hadith refers to the evil in impure glances, or that wearing colored aqua-colored contacts while looking at people is bad?  As a big fan of lipstick, I was also pleased to find out that 22 lipsticks are sold in the world every second. But what I didn’t know is that lipsticks are also bombs that contribute to the fall of civilization with every little explosion. Interesting…that has never happened to any of my lipsticks.

The masterpiece of politico-religious symbolism, however, falls to two posters using the same texts:

Each chadori [chador-clad] woman is as a flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

We are uncountable [many].”

These posters outline what the Islamic Republic wants: all women looking and dressing identically in the chador, as a uniform. As Sarah Khorshid Doost points out (in personal correspondence), these posters hijack the Green Movement slogan “we are uncountable,” which became popular after the election protests of last year. As the slogan is used in reference to unity, its use for such an exclusive and divisive means in this ad campaign is really disturbing. However, there is a history to this and many of the Green movement symbols being hijacked before (as with Ahmadinejad himself wearing a green shawl at his “victory speech” two days after the elections).

So the takeaway for women is: not only is wearing what we are supposed to wear good for our eternal salvation and morals, it is also good because it is what everyone else who is normal, patriotic, and right are wearing.  Go with the crowd!

Going through the posters, I started to wonder what the takeaway message is from this ad campaign for the brothers (other than avoiding loose women in lipstick). Luckily, the campaign has a message for men, too! with two posters showing the same text (one pictured on right):

Muslim Brother! Your inattention and guarding of your glance will result in our sisters observing their hijab.”

Because we all know that men are less likely to harass a sister in hijab. Yeah, right. Remind me of that next time I get a drive-by marriage proposal in Paris or Philly. And, hey, I think I see some of the brother’s awrah in those tight jeans. Oh, wait, isn’t looking a trap?

Muslim women have always had their Islam judged by their clothing and appearance. True, we live in scary times. However, the lot of Muslim women has hit a new low when people find it necessary to launch an expensive ad campaign to make sure we know exactly what we are supposed to wear.  To drive the point home and blur the lines even more: “Having little or no haya (shyness/modesty), is a sign of dark-mindedness, not intellectualism, is a sign of ignorance not civilization” So don’t forget, sisters, being a blushing Muslimah is critical to being smart and civilized.  And you can’t have haya in heels and lipstick!

The author and MMW would like to thank Sara Khorshid Doost for her invaluable assistance in this post, namely in translation and in contextual information.

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