A confectionary sugar sweet, lollipops are the OG candy from everyone’s childhood. A contemporary example of the word lollipop: Layla licked a lemony lollipop. But today, it is odiously articulated a different way.
Recently, I have heard it coined metaphorically by misogynists as a means to compare standards of modesty for Muslim women who CHOOSE to either wear or not wear the hijab.
Never heard of it before? Let me break down this oh-so-sweet picture for you:
Picture this: A person is holding two lollipops: one in the left hand and the other in the right hand.
The lollipop on the right can be described as dirty and dingy. It probably fell in the mud or was sitting in the bottom of someone’s backpack. It is “disgraceful and ugly”. No longer does it gleam with shine, and its usual colorful-cavity charm, but instead it smells with flies revolving around it.
The lollipop on the left, however, has a brilliant shiny wrapper crinkled to perfection, covering the most delectably artificial corn-syrup masterpiece held in “all its glory”. It looks brand new and gives the appearance of perfection.
Picture painted: The unwrapped lollipop– portrayed as pitiful, reeks of filth, and is clustered with flies– is symbolic of a woman who chooses to not wear hijab. “She” is someone who is impure, not good to have around, and surrounded by unwanted attention. The wrapped lollipop, unlike the one in the right hand, demonstrates a hijabi who is the essence of all things pure, clean, and good.
This metaphor degrades and objectifies Muslim women as it comparatively distinguishes women who choose to wear the hijab and women who choose not to wear the hijab. Women who choose to wear the hijab are not better or less than other women who choose to not wear the hijab. One is just as beautiful and as intelligent as the other.
Recently, I have been finding this ignominious comparison that hijabis are too religious, too conservative, too naive, too quiet, too restricted, and more. On the flip side, those who choose not to wear the hijab are then considered not religious enough, too liberal, too loud, too immature, too crazy, that they don not have hiya’a and etc.
The hijab is an independent and personal decision. No one decides for us [Muslim women] but ourselves. A woman should never be guiled, shamed, or forced into wearing the hijab. “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (2:256)
People see the hijab as judgmental display of a woman’s religiosity, as well as “how leveled she is spiritually.” However, individuals often forget that hijab is a principal of modesty in Islam and that within that definition it includes behavior. Therefore, modesty is not something to be a judge of, but something to be self-aware of—whether one chooses to wear it or not does not diminish the fact that their actions speak louder than appearance.
Allah swt is the best judge of our character and our actions. Modesty is bigger than just how someone chooses to dress, but this is often forgotten. It is of no one’s right to be hypercritical of someone who chooses to wear the hijab or who chooses not to wear the hijab. Look, listen, and hear all women. Check your hijab.
It is ironic how basic, fundamental principles once learned as children have become forgotten. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
What makes this case so different? Be humble and have humility. Do not think it okay to divide women into titles of “those” and “others”.
Sadly, I find it most repulsive that one can even conjure an analogy that stoops so low to compare any woman to that of a lollipop. Muslim women are not “things”; we are not even simply stars or pearls. Like the sun, we burn bright. Sweet, Muslim women can be, but never assume we will not be anything less or equal than just that.
I find the identity of Muslim women best expressed in the words of spoken word artist Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, “To be a Muslim woman is to be always fought over but never fought for.”