Timmerman argues that women are the fundamental icons of Islam among Muslim individuals. As well, the icon feeds into the western ideology that Muslim women who are oppressed whose significant is clearly evident in the display of their veil. In that sense, women are vital to the societal and ethical order in the Middle East. Muslim women embody the character and validity that represents the Islamic nation. As suggested this is problematic because it sets a standard for these women to be the face of Islam when not all women aspire to be the icon of the nation. On the contrary, the western construction of the image of women in Muslim societies tends to be negatively associated with oppression.
The impact of western images on the creation of women as symbols of authenticity and cultural resistance with Islamic discourse is apparent. Western views, including those regarding women are often considered to be politically or culturally suspect. The stereotypical image of the Muslim women being oppressed by coercion of the veil perpetuates the colonial view of repression. The symbolic value of the veil according to western societies embodies the backwardness of their society and tarnishes their own modern image. The image reinforces the strategy of using the politics of the veil as a tool of constructing difference between the west and Muslim societies which assists in the justification of ‘European colonialism and western hegemony’ (22). These issues have produced a common ground for western cultural imperialism and feminism, with women’s clothing at the center of the debate, insisting that the veil is a symbol of resistance to patriarchal notions. The negative stigma attached to the veil; Muslim women view the veil as a sense of empowerment and freedom. It allows for legitimacy among family members, with no fear of sexual harassment or being branded as immortal, westerners must acknowledge this interpretation.
Singh and Timmerman both discuss the effects of the western process of homogenizing third world women’s identities. The framework that is preferred over the gender and development paradigm is situating these women as the dominant source of knowledge, giving them a sense of agency and a voice for evaluating their own circumstances as argued by Singh but needs to be adopted by Timmerman.