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Nike’s new hijab line: How to dissect and apply the issue in the GP context

(Follow-up from our Facebook post on Nike’s new hijab line)

The A level marking scheme states that for a Band 1 in content, the essay has to be “perceptive”, “thoughtful” and “enlightening”. What this means is that apart from making sound arguments, there is also a need to offer fresh insight.  Well, you may think that there is nothing new under the sun.  How can you possibly provide any “fresh insight”? The key is the recency of your examples.  Trite examples, while relevant and valid, do not demonstrate your ability to evaluate current real-world issues.  In this post, I will demonstrate how you can dissect this piece of news on Nike’s new hijab line and apply it for your GP essays/AQs.  

When you read a news article like this, the first step is to try to identify the point of interest, usually the conflict or issue of contention.  In this article, you can probably pick out:

i) Nike’s “good intention” to raise cultural awareness through their new hijab line has somewhat backfired.

ii) There is some skepticism on whether Nike is merely seeking its own interests to cash in on the Muslim market or genuinely interested in normalising the presence of hijab in sports.

Second, list the reasons that led to the issues.  You can see this as a simple summary exercise.  At this point, you don’t actually have to give additional inputs (though you can if you wish to); you can just put down the justifications provided by the article (in blue).

i) Nike’s “good intention” to raise cultural awareness through their new hijab line has somewhat backfired.

– Some have criticized Nike on social media (propagating the hashtag #boycottNike), claiming that the product supports the oppression of women.

ii) There is some skepticism on whether Nike is merely seeking its own interests to cash in on the Muslim market or genuinely interested in normalising the presence of hijab in sports.

– Nike’s entry into the hijab market may threaten other smaller brands that produce Islamic sports apparel 

Third, evaluate the reasons i.e. consider whether the reasons are always justified (are there other alternative points of view?) Some articles will try to balance different opinions and you can pick out their “evaluation” in the articles.  Otherwise, you can do it on your own (evaluation in maroon):

i) Nike’s “good intention” to raise cultural awareness through their new hijab line has somewhat backfired.

– Some have criticized Nike on social media (propagating the hashtag #boycottNike), claiming that the product supports the oppression of women.
– This presupposes that the hijab is a symbol of oppression, which is in itself, an ethnocentric view.  The hijab is worn by Muslim women as an expression of their faith, and many wear them willingly.  To interpret the wearing of hijab as an act of oppression could in fact suggest a lack of understanding and intolerance of the Muslim faith.

ii) There is some skepticism on whether Nike is merely seeking its own interests to cash in on the Muslim market or genuinely interested in normalising the presence of hijab in sports.

– Nike’s entry into the hijab market may threaten other smaller brands that produce Islamic sports apparel.
– As a private corporation, Nike does not have an obligation to further any social cause, including the normalisation of the hijab.  While there can be doubts on the authenticity of their social advocacy, it does not diminish the fact that Nike’s new hijab line could be a step forward “toward normalisation and acceptance of Islamic culture”.  As a market leader in the sports apparel industry with strong brand influence, Nike’s participation may in itself be a powerful signal to help soften the stigma or fear that may currently be associated with wearing hijabs in sports.
– Nike’s entry into the hijab market may also bring more attention to its existence and profitability, thereby attracting more corporations to follow suit (from article).  The increased competition may be beneficial to consumers in the long run.

Lastly, practise forming a topic sentence to address the broader subject matter.  To do this, you can take the earlier topic sentences in i) and ii) and rework them into a statement about the topic (not just the specific news issue).  In this case, the new statement should become a point not just about Nike and hijab, but on the role of corporations in general (see below):

i) Nike’s “good intention” to raise cultural awareness through their new hijab line has somewhat backfired.

ii) There is some skepticism on whether Nike is merely seeking its own interests to cash in on the Muslim market or genuinely interested in normalising the presence of hijab in sports.

–> Given their wealth and influence, corporations can/should make use of their privileged position to further social causes.  However, it is inevitable that some would be skeptical about their intentions.  While naysayers can criticise the corporations for being opportunistic, it does not negate the merit of their involvement in social advocacy.

This 4-step process, if applied regularly, can help you develop and hone your GP process skills.  We cannot (and need not) predict the essay questions, but we can adequately familiarise ourselves with the possible positions to take on the various current affairs issues.  Through such preparation, you can learn to think in a more systematic and logical manner,  and also how to creatively weave your current affairs knowledge into your arguments.

2 thoughts on “Nike’s new hijab line: How to dissect and apply the issue in the GP context

  • Howdy! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from an established blog. Is it hard to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about creating my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Thanks

    • Hi Angelina,

      Most sites come with free templates and they may suffice at the start, if you are looking for something basic. You can also pay for add-ons or get professional help, but I suggest doing that later when you are clearer about what you really want. Hope that helps!

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