…Or, Why I Remain Committed to the Veil…
Each day that I awaken, greeting the Sun as it rises above this Land, I am made more aware of the divide which separates me from this society. And I embrace that divide. Why should I desire to be enfolded within a society which values only my female appearance, and only in prescribed ways? I own this body, and if society had its way, I might be stripped naked in the street and shamed for not wanting to expose myself in modern clothing.
“Oh, that’s a little harsh, Columbine…”
Yeah, I hear many of you saying that to yourselves, not wanting to believe that anyone could make another person feel so unsafe. Well, I’ve got news for you. Covered women don’t always feel safe. Like many women, we have to deal with subtle forms of harassment, but dare I say that a woman who veils (barring Catholic nuns, since their position seems to afford them a wide breadth of respect from most people) often faces that harassment in much more blatant ways?
If I looked “normal” I could walk into any place around here and no one would bat an eye, for all that they might ogle my body. However, dressed as I am, I can not “pass” for anything but “other”. And that truly is the whole point of my attire. I am other. I am not of this world, and seeing that recognition become transformed into hostility, in a split second, is probably one of the scariest things I’ve had to experience on a regular basis. And it’s gotten a lot worse since moving here.
I have things to do on at least a few days out of the month. Things which require me to step outside of the protection and comfort of my home. This is not the place I left behind, last year. Not by a long shot. The people here have more than a slight penchant for discrimination, and having read historical documents in the town library, I can confirm the reality of racial tension, even without relying upon my own experiences.
So, that’s three strikes against me already, as a black, veiled woman in this community. If I didn’t have a backbone, I might cower indoors, indefinitely. *laughs* Like that’ll ever happen.
I will not be bullied or intimidated anywhere, least of all on a public street, or in a public business. Apollon is oh, so very clear on this. I am to submit to no one but Him. When a man gets that hostile glare going, I usually ask if there’s a problem. Mostly, they do not expect a veiled woman to have a voice, let alone the verbal skill to use it. If they still insist upon looking, then I stare right back, unblinking, and wait for them to slink off into a corner where they belong.
But, wait, women aren’t any better at hiding their discriminatory tendencies. In fact, I’ve found women to be more likely to outright ignore my presence if they can get away with it. It can really eat up your time when you’re standing in line, and four people are allowed to pass before you when a cashier opens a new register, only to be told to join another line upon reaching the front, because, well… because nobody wants to touch your ‘dirty black hand’. They don’t say it, but the hesitation before taking anything out of my hands is pretty disgusting.
This is the community I moved into it. It’s beautiful beyond belief, but it has many flaws, as do all places. As do all people, myself included. I believe I’ve said this a few times in the past, but I’m not perfect. There are days when I want to tear this cloth off my head and just walk around like the “normal” women.
“Well, why don’t you, Columbine?”
Because, this thing I do, this veiling thing, isn’t one of those optional beauty choices, like whether or not I wear makeup. The veil is absolutely necessary for me. Even putting aside tradition and all of the energetic reasons for covering, such as control of empathy and minor shielding, and even setting aside Apollon’s command, I have reason still to cover.
Can you guess what that reason is? It’s because this body is mine. It is not a mannequin to be draped in the latest fashions, on the whim of whoever decided the new fall color-scheme. It is not a sexual morsel, to be salivated over, or nibbled upon. It is the tool I use to become a proper conduit of my Lord. Anyone who works with tools knows that they must be kept clean and orderly to maintain optimal functionality. My body is no different. And, like a knife that stays sheathed while not in use, so too do I remain covered.
This society is a trap. One which I will not fall into, and I really do not care who agrees, or disagrees. I will exercise my personal authority over my body, and I will not be left exposed to the elements around me. Some people do better than others under these conditions, but I am obviously not one of those people. And that’s alright, because everybody isn’t me, or even like me, and I thank the Gods for it.