submitted by Izzy, the photographer.
From the Photographer:
I did a photo series called Gender Outlaws a few weeks ago. The series primarily explored how body language and appearance choices and sex communicated gender (pro tip: only the first one really counts), but also touched on issues of what types of body language we associate with which genders, (like passivity and aggression), how race can play into the power dynamics, and lots of other things.
I originally was concerned that all my representations of gender, including those shots that featured models of color, were all very white, western representations of gender. I wanted to include other representations, but I knew I was playing with fire. One of the things I decided I absolutely needed in this project was an image of a man in a hijab.
When non-Muslims talk about hijab, they often see it as an oppressive, sexually shaming signal (“Women! Hide your bodies, you devious temptresses!”), but when you talk to Musilim women who choose to commit to hijab, you get a very different view. None of this, of course, applies to women who are forced to wear it, as many are. But women who make that choice themselves often speak about not oppression, but liberation: liberation from the media’s definition of how a person should look, or should dress, or should wear their hair. They feel that wearing hijab is demanding to be defined as a person by their words and actions and not by their haircut or body.
I definitely feel that this sentiment is as powerful as it ever was when put in the context of gender and worn by a man. Again, hijab is liberation from the media’s definition of how a person should look, or should dress, or should wear their hair and is a demand to be defined as a person by their words and actions and not by their haircut or body.
The model is intentionally non-Arab; Muslim men are forbidden from wearing women’s clothing by religious law, and I didn’t want the meaning of this photograph to get mucked up in people arguing about it.