Fascinating: The Hijab As A Tool Of Female Intrasexual Competition
Often, it's other women, not men, who work to keep women down. As I wrote in a column:
Social psychologists Roy Baumeister and Jean Twenge report that it's widely believed that men drive the "cultural suppression of female sexuality" -- which could include shaming women for how they dress. However, in reviewing the research, they make a persuasive case that it's primarily women (often without awareness of their motives) who work to "stifle each other's sexuality."
A few quotes from their paper from 2002:
The view that men suppress female sexuality received hardly any support and is flatly contradicted by some findings. Instead, the evidence favors the view that women have worked to stifle each other's sexuality because sex is a limited resource that women use to negotiate with men, and scarcity gives women an advantage.
...We did find that men have exerted pressure on their wives to be sexually faithful. This does not seem remarkable, nor does it differ much from women's wishes that their husbands re- main faithful. Crucially, it does not seem to carry over into suppressing female sexuality altogether. Men seem to want their wives to have sexual desire and pleasure, just to have them with their husbands rather than with other men.
This view -- on hijab-wearing and female intrasexual competition -- from a chapter by Nayereh Tohidi, "Modernity, Islamization, and women in Iran."
She notes that "contrary to a widely held assumption about women as mere victims or passive followers of Islamic fundamentalism, certain strata of women actually played an important rule in the ... articulation of the 'model of Islamic women'..."
And take this all the way -- from the hijab to the burka. Basically, mate competition becomes easier if the women who are prettier than you have to go around in the same black tablecloth you do. So, support for Islamic fundamentalism is a helpful way for a woman to disappear the competition behind a black curtain while presenting oneself as a better kind of Muslim.
Here's a passage on this from Tohidi's book: