From "Cover Story/The head scarf, modern Turkey, and me," by Elif Batuman in The New Yorker. As for head scarves, here's a conversation the author (who is the American daughter of Turkish immigrants) had with a cab driver in Istanbul (she was his sole passenger):
[O]nce, when a driver pressed me particularly jovially for an opinion, I said something like “I think all women should be respected. It shouldn’t depend on their hair.”Later, she describes her experience walking through Urfa after accidentally leaving on a head scarf that she kept with her to wear when she visited religious sites that women cannot enter without wearing a head scarf:
The driver replied that I was absolutely right, that of course women should be respected, and that the head scarf was the best way for women to remind men of this necessity for respect. Men, after all, were worse than women: they could sometimes forget themselves, and then unfortunate things could happen, “even”—he said in a hushed voice, adding that he didn’t like to mention such things in front of me—“even rape.”
I replied, in my simplistic Turkish, that to me this sounded like a threat: either cover your head or rape can happen. The driver protested in ornate phrases that nobody was threatening anyone, that to speak of threats in this situation was unfitting, that he could tell from my smiling face that I was a good and trusting person, but that the world was an imperfect place, that some men were less like humans than like animals, and that it was best to send clear signals about what one was or wasn’t looking for.....
[W]alking through the city with a head scarf was a completely different experience. People were so much nicer. Nobody looked away when I approached. I felt less jostled; men seemed to step aside, to give me more room. When I went into a store, a man held the door for me, and I realized that it was the first time anyone had reached a door before me without going in first and letting it shut in my face. Most incredibly, when I got to a bus stop shortly after the bus had pulled away, the departing vehicle stopped in the middle of the street, the door opened, and a man reached out his hand to help me in, calling me “sister.” It felt amazing. To feel so welcomed and accepted and safe, to be able to look into someone’s face and smile, and have the smile returned—it was a wonderful gift....Batuman gave some thought to wearing the head scarf all the time in Turkey. It's all communication, and failure to wear it communicated something she didn't mean to say to the people around her — perhaps that "I disapproved of them and thought their way of life was backward." So why not wear the head scarf, not just to make her experience easier, but also to make "the people who lived here feel so much better"? If they are poor and working people, and she is elite and privileged, shouldn't she adopt their form of expression? She wears high heels — which are more burdensome than a head scarf — to business meetings in NYC in order to get better respect from the people there. Why suck up to those elites and not to the common people in Turkey? She thinks of the answer: Because "it felt dishonest, almost shameful, as if I were duping people into being kind to me." We're left to infer the what that means about the heels in NYC. I think it's: But there's nothing dishonest or shameful about duping privileged people at business meetings in NYC.
Much more at the link. Read the whole thing. You don't know where it goes. In fact, I don't know where it goes. I stopped to write this blog post when I was only 2/3 of the way through. I decided to write this blog post when I was only 1/4 of the way through — that is, when I read the material about how Western elites notice elite condescension to working class, foreign Muslims but not the equivalent condescension to working class American Christians.