More of a WWYD,explaining headscarves/veils to a child?

(157 Posts)
FreeBirdsFlying Fri 13-Jul-12 10:50:25

More traffic here.

DC1 is wondering why women of certain cultures and religions cover their hair and sometimes their faces. I have explained about differing religions etc but still the question persists as to why only the women,why don't the men have to.
Does anyone have a simple way to explain it to ages 5-12 (DC2 is joining in with it) ? I'm trying and obviously failing.

NoOneEverCared Fri 13-Jul-12 10:53:18

I would say that they see it as a mark of respect and also that in some religions men also cover their heads.

CaoNiMa Fri 13-Jul-12 10:54:30

Tell the truth. Say that some men can't stand the idea of other people looking at their "possession", so the women have to be covered up.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Fri 13-Jul-12 10:54:51

I would just say that they believe that women should dress modestly, and for them, that includes covering up.

I would liken it to the same as boys wearing swimming shorts and girls wearing costumes. We just have different clothes for girls and boys and women wearing veils but men not is the same thing.

FreeBirdsFlying Fri 13-Jul-12 10:59:53

I'm still met with *why can't women wear whatever they want?

If a woman decided not to wear the headscarf today and decided to wear her hair in a beehive what would happen?

Softlysoftly Fri 13-Jul-12 11:01:39

The truth?

The Koran says that people should dress modestly, because it's not specific people do it on different ways, some just cover bodies not hair, some cover hair, some go the whole hog. Technically this applies to men too, in some households this means the man will wear long loose clothing (salwar) and a cap/hat/hair covering too.

Unfortunately over time it's become just the women in a lot of families, or at least stricter for them, this is sexist but up to them until they fight it.

It's like if you asked them to get you and dad/male friend "ice-cream" because you weren't specific they might interpret it differently! What flavour? Cone or tub? What size? Flake or not? And they might get the male a double scoop because he's bigger? Thats how the differences creep in, doesn't mean it's right.

Rooble Fri 13-Jul-12 11:05:07

And as NoOneEverCared said, I would say that it's both men and women who cover their heads (Muslim, Jewish, Sikh...). But it can be more obvious when women do it. Also that it's sometimes down to an individual's interpretation of their own religion whether/to what extent they cover up.

OP, the women are wearing headscarves because they are choosing to wear whatever they want. It's common in some muslim families to have some sisters who cover ther hairs and others that don't - personal preference. A woman in a headscarf could wear her hair in a beehive, but she'd only do so at home in front of family or female friends. She may well have a beehive underneath her head scarf.

There is a discussion about why women wear these, but I'm not convinced taht these woman are made to do this - they choose to. They wear it as a sign of their religion. Your daughter makes choices as to what she wears, these women are no different. Also, they may wear different headscarves on different days depending on make up, where they're going, what colours they're wearing and what suits them. They don't just wear black scarves full stop.

Softlysoftly Fri 13-Jul-12 11:07:09

caionimanot in every household and not according to the religion don't ridiculously generalise.

freebirds in some houses big rows, and that's not just from the men but from the other women who believe it would show a lack of respect to the family. In others (like my MILs) sweet FA, one sil covers her hair (though she sneaks off in western clothes with her mates hmm) one sil never covers, mil/fil say nothing it's up to them.

tryingtoleave Fri 13-Jul-12 11:09:26

I don't see the difficulty. Have you never tried to explain something you don't believe in to your dcs. Just say some people believe that women should cover themselves. You can add that you think this is unfair or problematic if you want. Children can handle that.

I have talked about slavery with ds, we watched Oliver and talked about the children in the workhouse. We read the famous five and i had to explain that george wanted to be a boy becuase boys had more opportunities at the time. Not every social institution or practice, past or present, is good. It is important for children to understand that.

FreeBirdsFlying Fri 13-Jul-12 11:10:05

I'll freely admit I know little about why they do,thanks SoftlySoftly for simplifying that for me.

I can see hints of sexism creeping in (like saying that water guns are boys toys) and I always try impress on them that just because they are girls it dosent mean they cannot play with a toy that interests them.
I don't want them becoming hostile towards any religion or culture,but at the same time don't want them to accept sexism.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Fri 13-Jul-12 11:10:25

Why can't women wear what they want?

They are wearing what they want. At least in this country. They want to follow the tradition and they are choosing to wear headscarves most of the time. Some women are oppressed, but that is a different discussion.

Be very careful of letting your children believe that all women who cover up are doing it against their will. The vast majority of them are choosing to do it because of their own beliefs, and therefore they are wearing what they want.

tryingtoleave Fri 13-Jul-12 11:11:36

Before I get jumped on, I just want to say that I am not equating a head scarf with slavery. I am just trying to show you can talk about problematic issues with children.

Rooble Fri 13-Jul-12 11:11:55

Who says they are not wearing what they want? The Muslim teenage girls who live near me cover their hair not faces and appear to like to wear their headscarf (enjoy accessorising etc, see it as a form of cultural identity).
Do you never say to your 12 year old "you're not going out dressed like that?". It's a matter of what your family and your culture perceives to be acceptable and respectable
This is possibly how I might begin to try to explain it

FreeBirdsFlying Fri 13-Jul-12 11:13:38

Thanks for the replies and I will do my best to explain about respect etc.

Bathsheba Fri 13-Jul-12 11:16:02

I was faced with the same question last week - my answer to my 8 year old was "thats how some people believe they should dress" - that was accepted fine by my DD

rainydaysarebad Fri 13-Jul-12 11:17:25

Tell the truth. Say that some men can't stand the idea of other people looking at their "possession", so the women have to be covered up.

Wow, didn't take long for an ignorant person to make an ignorant comment. That comment you made there cowNiMa could also be applied to any abusive controlling man, regardless of religion or culture.

ophelia275 Fri 13-Jul-12 11:17:39

My ds asked me about why Muslim women wear headscarfs, so I said, "because they are Muslims". He asked me again so I just said "I don't know, why don't you ask them". He changed the subject.

FreeBirdsFlying Fri 13-Jul-12 11:21:21

My 12 year old goes around in her sports kit most of the time. grin

So the women choose to wear the scarves/veils and if they don't want to wear one,they won't.

I've explained to DC about uncomfortable topics and DC is just finished reading Under the hawthorn tree and Wildflower girl. I suppose its easier to discuss a topic you know more about.

Rooble Fri 13-Jul-12 11:24:43

smile - I'm sure she'd get the idea though!!

squeakytoy Fri 13-Jul-12 11:31:18

I grew up in lancashire where many women walked about wearing headscarves, women of all cultures. I dont think at 5 there is any need to go into a politically/racially controversial discussion with a child.

Softlysoftly Fri 13-Jul-12 11:33:41

Freebirds. No worries I hate the insidious sexism yesterday I had to fix her car seat and she said "well done mummy you did a boy job like baba".

I was shock she's 2.8 where did she learn that?!

FreeBirdsFlying Fri 13-Jul-12 11:44:13

Its the subtle drip drip of helpless female on childrens tv imo. Not that I've thought about it much. But likewise I was having drinks lunch with some friends yesterday and many of them see their husbands as helpless oafs who would be in dirty clothes and starving if not for the wife.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 13-Jul-12 11:45:09

>I grew up in lancashire where many women walked about wearing headscarves, women of all cultures
To stop the damp air from making their perms go frizzy? grin

hackmum Fri 13-Jul-12 12:08:17

FireoverBabylon: "There is a discussion about why women wear these, but I'm not convinced taht these woman are made to do this - they choose to"

You could put that to the test by going to Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan and wandering around without a headscarf. Good luck.

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