It’s always the same conversation, every time. When someone wants to discuss hijab she is locked into a set of talking points. She can’t not say them–certain words automatically lead into certain phrases that cannot be separated. When I try to avoid it it feels like someone else is talking through me. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard an insightful conversation about hijab.
I like the hijab. I like the niqab even better. I think the munaqaba (niqabi) and the prostitute have more in common with each other than the everyday feminist whom most people consider to be in the middle of the two of them who has no consciousness about controlling her own sexual capital (whatever form she may choose that control to take).
But I think people have managed to make the conversation about hijab so confused and so simplified at the same time that they have ensured that no one will ever be able to say anything meaningful about it–the first sentence offers ten different ways for your female listener to derail you and your male listener to contradict you and the opportunities for people to give evidence about exactly what the rule is behind hijab (and different interpretations are welcome!) or about a real effect, negative or positive, that hijab has had on one’s life, are very rare. They have made it so you look silly and the issue looks trivial, so that you talk forever without saying anything.