Rethinking Muslim Women and the Veil (Challenging Historical & Modern Stereotypes) This detailed and significant study is a powerful critique of the popular western notion that the veil is a symbol of Muslim women's oppression. In postulating a positive theory of the hijab; the author challenges with great sophistication both the commonly held view of Muslim women being utterly subjugated by men, as well as the more complex arguments put forward by liberal feminists such Mernissi, Macleod and others who have sought to criticize the choice of women to cover themselves as ultimately un-liberating. Examining and questioning the validity and accuracy of some of the feminists' assumptions, the author puts forward the case that the judgment of the veil as being an oppressive feature of Islam is based on liberal understandings of “equality” and “liberty” which preclude other ways of thinking about these issues that offer a positive approach for contemplating the wearing of the veil. The author argues that in a culture of consumerism, the hijab can be experienced as liberation from the tyranny of the beauty myth and the thin 'ideal' woman.
Rethinking Muslim Women and the Veil straddles many academic disciplines: political theory, feminism, anthropology, sociology, history as well as Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. The author’s research is wide-ranging – from the historical background behind the western stereotyping of the veil and the influence of the colonial era, to modern veiling trends in Muslim and non-Muslim countries. Her analysis includes interviews with a group of Muslim women from various backgrounds in Toronto, Canada. Ultimately in dispelling some widely held myths about Muslim women and the hijab, the author introduces respectability, to the voice of believing Muslim women, claiming that liberation and the equality of women arc fundamental to Islam itself.
KATHERINE BULLOCK is an alumna of the University of Toronto, where she earned her doctorate in Political Science in 1999. It was during her doctoral studies that she embraced Islam. Her Ph.D. dissertation was on "Politics of the Veil" and she has spoken on this, and other topics relevant to Muslim women, to academic and church circles in Canada, the USA and Australia. Dr. Bullock is originally from Australia, and now lives in California with her husband and son.