According to Julie

Love in a Headscarf

2 Comments

I usually don’t enjoy what The Guardian calls chick lit. That stuff is better in the movies, where you can concentrate on the shoes and hair and bags when the storyline becomes too silly. But I might want to read Love in a Headscarf, Shelina Zahra Janmohamed’s "chick-lit memoir of her arranged marriage" – just out of curiousity.

Some quotes from the comment thread of The Guardian’s article:

What strikes me is the way she describes the process in purely material terms. She ‘judges’ potential husbands on their looks, time-keeping and financial generocity to herself. No mention of personality, interests or compatibility. Is that what it’s about?

Bridget jones didn’t claim to speak or represent each and every 30-year old who happened to be single
Nor does Shelina attempt to do the same for Muslim women. It’s just a story of how she finds love – why is it that as a minority writer, she suddenly is expected to carry the burden of representing each and every muslim woman in the world?

Those Muslim women living in the West who are making a free choice to act publicly like second-class citizens (in relation to men) must accept that their actions and beliefs are profoundly threatening to Western women, who are still fighting a long battle not to be second-class citizens.

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2 thoughts on “Love in a Headscarf

  1. Hi Julie
    I’d really like it if you read the book – and then made a decision on the comments for yourself…
    I think the first one is a bit unfair, as the book itself questions those ideas about superficiality and whether that is how to choose a partner and the journey is to explore the values that are important, and how cultural notions can interfere.
    … and perhaps we are wrongly perceived to be acting as second class citizens – wouldn’t you like to hear what we say for ourselves rather than what others say for us?
    And by the way – it’s a great fun read, but don’t take my word for it, read it yourself and then let me know! (ok, ok, i’m biased…)

  2. Shelina – I probably will read your book within the next couple of months. And I don’t necessarily agree with the comments; I mean I haven’t read the book yet, and neither have the commentators. Those were just some comments that stood out to me for different reasons:
    The first one because it asks a relevant question, which you say you answer in your book.
    The second because I actually do agree with it: It’s ridiculous that you should have to write THE definitive work on being a Muslim woman, just because you are A Muslim woman.
    The third because, like it or not, I think it does put into words what a lot of Western women think, perhaps subconsciously. The whole point of fighting that “long battle” is to give ourselves the freedom to choose, but I think people sometimes forget that. It can be really difficult to convince one self that other people want to do things one would never dream of doing. So we assume that other peoples’ decisions can’t possibly be out of free will. When women I talk to – Muslim, Christian, atheist, whatever – seem to think that they are inferior to men, I feel that kind of threatened described in the comment.

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