It’s that time of year again: the weather is getting cooler, the leaves are changing colour, my students are stressed about midterm season… and for the past couple weeks, the Pink Hijab Day invitations have been popping up in my newsfeed.
Pink Hijab Day is an annual event, taking place in October each year (this year’s was actually yesterday in most places). According to the Global Pink Hijab Day 2012 Facebook event, the event “was intended to remove stereotypes of Muslim women by having Muslims engage in dialogue about breast cancer awareness, joining walks in groups while wearing pink headscarves, and holding other events promoting awareness and support for the cause.” From what I’ve seen of the descriptions of specific events, these tend to involve bake sales or other fundraisers, lots of Muslim girls (and some Muslim guys) wearing lots of pink, some information about breast cancer, some information about Muslim women, and at times even a chance for non-Muslim women to try on headscarves themselves (pink ones, of course). The event is described as being international, but nearly all of the news that I’ve seen on it has covered events in Canada and the United States, so that’s the context I’ll focus on here too.
Before I continue, let me make a few things clear:
1. Breast cancer is a really terrible disease, and one that affects increasing numbers of women worldwide. I say that as someone with a number of friends and relatives who have gone through it, and I don’t want anything in this post to sound like I’m taking it lightly.
2. Many people work really hard to fight breast cancer, whether this consists of educating people about it, raising money for cancer research and treatment, providing medical or emotional support for those experiencing breast cancer, or many other efforts. These are all important and much needed, and I’m glad that so many people are active in this area.
3. Following from the previous point: the people who organise Pink Hijab Day events around the world usually work really hard and have really good intentions, and I have a lot of respect for that. Nothing that I say in this post is meant to belittle or disrespect the efforts of any individual organisers.
But having said all of this, I have to admit that Pink Hijab Day makes me really uncomfortable. I hate to be the Grinch Who Stole Pink Hijab Day, but there are a few things going on that I just can’t get behind. [Read more...]