Monday, 22 October 2012

On head covering

Someone pointed me to this beautiful blog post: I love my chapel veil. I've posted before on my own decision to veil (So...veiling). What shocked me wasn't anything she said, but what had prompted her to write that post: an article claiming that "Head covering is thinly veiled patriarchy." Loath as I am to give this article more press, it made me want to write more about my own choice.

I am 21 years old. I am studying at a respected university. I am single, and pay my own rent and my own bills. I have, by all means, a fairly average life for a 21st-century first-world young woman.

I cover my head for Mass. I am not married, so I do not do it for my husband. I am not a Traditionalist. I do not do it out of conformity. I do not do it out of necessity. I do it because it is my choice. It has literally nothing to do with anyone outside of me and the Lord. 

I lived in the Middle East. I have seen real oppression and real patriarchy. Someone trying to tell me that my free choice to cover my head is oppressive and patriarchal is laughable. Nice try.  I covered my head there and it was oppressive. But that does not make head-covering intrinsically oppressive. 

Head covering is not compulsory. I'm not saying that everyone, or even anyone should cover their head. One of the most beautiful things about the Catholic Church is that it allows us to express our devotion and our spirituality in different ways.

Take the Brown Scapular for example. It is a devotion and a personal choice, and choosing it for oneself in no way says that everyone should do it. Head covering is the same, it is a personal devotion that one can chose to follow or not. That choice is up to you.

But if you are so threatened by someone else's personal choices that you feel the need to attack them, then perhaps you should spend less time looking at others and think about yourself for a minute. 


  1. Thank you for this post - particularly your third paragraph from the bottom. it is the first time I have read a truly respectful comment about veiling - one that equally respects those who veil and those who do not.

    I don't veil, and to be honest, I can't really see myself ever doing so, unless requested to in an EF Mass. (when in Rome...? ;) ) No one in my parish veils, barring one older woman, who I've only ever seen attend Midnight Mass at Christmas and Easter. But I'm absolutely fine with other people veiling, providing they know why they're doing it, and have respect for themselves as women. What bothers me is when, and it does happen, women veil because they feel they're lesser human beings than men, or because their husband has "asked" them to, in a way that they didn't feel they could say no to. In the same vein - I'm fine with Muslim women wearing any and all variants on body and head coverings, providing it is they themselves who have made the choice to do so, and not their fathers, brothers of husbands. I object to countries who rule against Muslim women being allowed to do so, although I respect and appreciate the motivation if it is to protect those women who are forced in to it.

    I think it bothers me when many women who veil write about it, because they tend to write in such a way as to suggest that women who don't veil are lesser Catholics - you don't do that, and I applaud you! :)

    Blessings to you,

    1. Thank you for your kind comment. I have always felt very strongly that we should respect others choices in how they express their faith and not judge others are greater or lesser because their expression is different to our own. I have often felt disparaged by certain groups among Catholics who made me feel spiritually lesser for not practicing their particular devotions, so I am very careful to not do the same thing to others.
      God Bless