The XX Factor

Hillary in Hijab

Were any of you uncomfortable as I was seeing the photo of Hillary Clinton in Pakistan wearing a scarf over her hair? I know given the magnitude of what she has to deal with there, that this a small, possibly trivial issue. But on the other hand, whenever I see an American female official (and this has been true of Democrats and Republicans) in a Muslim country with her head covered, I feel that this is not sending a message of respect for their values but failing to take an opportunity to show ours. It’s one thing to enter a house of worship and abide by the rules of attire. And there are also cultural norms of dress that should be observed anywhere-I don’t think you wear flip-flops to the White House, for example. But why should a non-Muslim woman visiting a Muslim country have to cover her head while going about her business? In Obama’s Cairo speech he explicitly cited his support for the right of women to wear the hijab. But as commentators have pointed out, the real issue is that often women have no right not to wear the hijab. In many Muslim countries women who are not “properly” covered are putting themselves in life-threatening situations. I would much prefer to see our female representatives give the tacit message that it’s a woman’s right to choose whether to cover herself or not .