By Xeni Jardin at 9:02 am Wed, Mar 31, 2010
Boing Boing reader Georgia McElveen sends this photograph, and says she shot it after "coming accross a group of three girls protesting the burqa ban in France on Monday March 29, 2010." And that is all we know.
This is called publicity stunt. They are niether confused nor wrong headed. They know exactly what they are doing. Provocative though….
I’m French and live in Paris, but this is the first “bikini protest” I see. Maybe ’cause it’s still very early spring here, and quite chilly?
Ack! Movable Type is being cranky again! Here I’ll try to post again.
1) To the commenters who point out that the pieces of cloth on the girls’ faces are not really “burqas”: you’re right. The problem is with the lazy use of the word “burqa” in France nowadays, especially in political controversies, so that it is often colloquially used to mean “any kind of Muslim veil”.
In Paris, the trousers is still forbidden for women without permit. Since 1800…
The other thing about the law prohibiting the wearing of “burqas”: it specifically forbids women to wear face-conceiling veils and hoods, like the real burqa. But to understand the furore around this law, one must understand that this is one of the last pet projects of always-busy president Sarkozy, who shares with other right-wing European leaders (hello, Signor Berlusconi…) the habit of fanning the flames of popular fears about the Muslim minorities in their countries, and using that fear to make the citizens forget about other questions, like unemployment, financial crisis, the environment, etc. Also, this kind of “debate” over Muslims and other minority rights can drive a wedge between the several left-wing opposition parties, some of which are open to the idea of “accomodating” the religious traditions of minorities (like the women’s dress code in Islam), and others dislike it profoundly. Basically, the so-called “burqa ban” is a political tool intended to rally the traditional white and Christian population against the perceived alienness of Islam. One can say that it worked, but not as planned: Sarkozy’s party recently lost local elections to the left, but there was also a marked resurgence in the votes for the racist and nationalist extreme-right. As one wag said about the French right using nationalist themes that only work for the extreme-right: “People want the original, not the copy.”
How very French!
Are you sure this is a protest of the Burqa ban? It looks like an obvious troll to me…
Uhm… I like this approach to the burqa protesting thing.
If the ban continues, will they keep doing this? Seems like the wrong incentives…
I think that its the right incentive for me Adam!
BTW thatÂ´s way cooler than the burkini ;D
I don’t get it. Are they non-muslim girls protesting the ban on principle, or are they muslim girls protesting for their own right to wear a burqa ? If the latter, I wonder that such girls, who would want to wear it out of modesty, would then demonstrate their protest by posing in front of a national monument, wearing just bikinis and stylish boots. The picture makes little sense to me…
they raise a very good point
What is the very good point that they raise? I’m missing it.
It’s on the end of his….
oh, never mind.
Maybe they should remove one piece of clothing per day until reinstated. Surely people will get tired of nude women in France. Perhaps they should dance as well. That’ll show ‘em!
Also, it IS forbidden to wear a muslim head veil in French public schools, while I don’t think that it is outlawed outside of schools. Girls can and will generally be expelled if they insist on going to school wearing it. It does not in essence target just the muslim veil, it’s for all displays of religious adherence. It is generally regarded as a way to ensure that once inside the school, nobody is discriminated against on grounds of being of a different creed, from, say the other kid. On principle, wearing a christian cross or a David star worn as a pendant wouldn’t be allowed either, although I’m not sure if bans are always enforced there (and partially because it is much more discreet and can be worn under garments). It is in the alleged tolerance of one and on the instances of enforced ban towards the other that lies the true underlying bias, if there is one.
Um, these ladies do know that if they undressed like that in a Muslim country they’d be stoned to death.
For your information, Turkey, Moraco, Albania, Malasia, Indonesia, Lebanon, Egypt, etc. are all moslem countries and you see women dressed like that at their beaches.
This protest only makes sense if these women are Muslim otherwise what are they trying to say? “we want the right for other women who are not us and cant even wear this bikini to have the right to be forcefully covered by our males patriarchs due to antiquated religious traditions?” I’m not sure I get it.
They look good though. I guess I can be down with women covering their faces and wearing bikinis, It makes it easier to objectify them.
“Can’t even wear this bikini to have the right to be forcefully covered by our males patriarchs due to antiquated religious traditions”.
Some muslim women wear the burqa by choice, and could wear a bikini if they chose. Just sayin’…
It’s impossible to say it’s a choice when the alternatives are considered. They may *think* it’s a choice, but since Muhammed went and bit the dust all of the power over women that men lost in Medina was taken back. Then, even more was dominance was asserted.
Yes, there can be honorable reasons to want to wear a veil, but to say it’s actually a choice in most of the muslim world is a bit of a joke. Yay honor killings.
I didn’t say it’s a choice in most of the Muslim world. How does banning the burqa in France aid Muslim women in the rest of the world?
I’m not even saying that it’s a choice for MOST Muslim women who wear the burqa or niqab.
I support a Muslim women’s right to choose whether or not she wears the burqa/niqab/hijab, and I recognise the role that patriarchy and misogyny has to play in its enforcement. Nobody should force or pressure her to do so or not to do so.
But first, there are Muslim women who do choose to wear the burqa or niqab under their own volition.
And second, and particularly given that fact, I do not see how an all-out ban on the burqa/niqab by a predominantly non-Muslim, male, white government will liberate Muslim women to make that choice for themselves.
I’m not an expert on the subject or anything, just french. I’d just like to clarify something.
To my knowledge, the burqa ban doesn’t adress burqa wearing in France, but wearing a burqa while doing a public job (on the reasoning that public job = state employed in a secular state obvious religious signs should be no-show) or in public schools for students.
While it may be a big deal in itself, the issue is not exactly a blanket burqa ban in France.
Protesting, or supporting the burqa ban? Seems like those burqas are pretty small to me (um, not that I’m complaining or anything…)
It’s the new micro-burqa(tm).
Maybe I’m missing something (it’s very possible), but this seems pretty confused and wrong-headed.
First, those girls are (kind of) wearing a niqab, not a burqa. Burqas have a veil over the eyes.
But more relevantly, what are they trying to say with this protest? That it’s absurd to ban the burqa in public but allow bikinis? I’m not sure that’s a very good or even coherent argument against the ban. Nothing in this protest counters the arguments that support the ban, or addresses the underlying racism and xenophobia inherent in the ban.
And given that the burqa and niqab are often worn as a symbol of physical modesty or to prevent sexual objectification, this seems kind of contradictory. Unless that’s the point. Which I’m missing. Wait – is the idea that nobody has a problem with the burqa if its worn by people in bikinis…?
Due to the Muslim world’s immense linguistic and cultural diversity, there is not One True Definition of any of these terms. The type of face veil worn by the lovely lady in the center, which we usually call a niqab in the West, is in fact called a burqa in Saudi Arabic.
If only they could have demonstrated like this in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, or Afghanistan.
I support the Burqa Ban, but I still find this to be funny. =)
Then again, in countries where the Burqa is law, or even simply tradition, these women would be stoned (at best) for doing this. And the Burqa isn’t just about the face covering. So their protest doesn’t make nearly as much sense as if they were, say, protesting the tradition of wearing it. =)
hey look the video i found on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eiMeywHIeA
that is really them. those girls are crazy.
But i think it is really strong fight for woman rights.
Thac0–Umm…You can be against BOTH the government AND the patriarchs telling you what you can wear. Just like you can be for the right of people to make @sshole statements. It’s that whole freedom thing. THAT’S the point.
So the opposite of aburqa-niqab (which i term the “qurnab”) is a blind-folded naked lady? i just want to get that right for my cool new random concepted church (which, of course, you’ll all going to hell if you don’t join!!!)
A bit late, but there is no ban of the Burqa in France (at least not now). It is Belgium who banned it.
Now that’s religion!
Burqa’s are not headcoverings. The hijab, which these women are wearing is not banned in France. Hence, it would seem this ‘protest’ only creates confusion. The ban is on the head-to-toe covering with slits for eyes (sometimes) that is called the burqa.
Wearing a hijab with a bikini, while provacative, would seem to have nothing to do with the situation at all. My guess: some liberated Kaleeji gals were in France and decided to have some fun. Someone saw/found the pic on a social site and tagged it as a ‘Burqa Ban protest’ not knowing that these women are not wearing a burqa here.
Seems more like they are mocking muslims with this no?
In truth, I suspect they are simply out for a lark to celebrate their freedom to get their kit off (because they can-can) on one of the first warm spring days this year, and are on board with their president (hence the french flag, staging the photo with a quite phallic eiffel tower in the background…). Hey why not?
wooow…um..hmm… what burqa?? where? I didn’t see it.. I was looking at ummm..
It’s illegal to walk in public in the USA with a full KKK regalia on which covers your face, even though some people would choose to wear that. I am glad they are not allowed, just as I am glad that you cannot wear the same kind of religious woo-inspired Burqa in France. =)
I admit: I also am enjoying it because of spite. I don’t really care what legal discussions people are having about it. I’m just glad that extremist religious groups which “encourage” this, as well as wife beatings and killings, are getting shafted. Their outrage, and the outrage of liberal people (such as myself) who side with the outrageous (which would exclude me), is pleasing to me. The more people get upset about it, the more I smile and look at my nails and think about when to go and get them done whilst enjoying another Burqa-less day. =)
In fact, I want the Imams to get so upset by these decisions that they all have apoplectic coronaries on the spot. You see, I know that the more “provocatively” I dress in public, the more it gives these people the finger – each and every day. If everyone did it, they might really get the message to fuck off and die. =)
And yes, that really is me telling them to fuck off and die, and giving them the finger, with a smile on my lips and cruel, derisive, denigrating laughter in the air. That’s why I support the ban. It’s a big “Fuck you” to all those assholes. =)
It is? By which law?
Actually, it depends state to state. But I think it was 2004 when the Supreme Court rejected a case from the KKK to try to overturn those laws. So the Supreme Court said that it is legal to ban it from state to state. =)
I haven’t been able to find this law through Google searching, and, barring evidence from you, don’t think it’s true. In America, dressing up as the KKK, Hitler Youth, or in a burka is clearly protected under Free Speech.
Would you be supportive of a law to ban the wearing of crucifixes? How about if there were some insular societies in the states where not wearing a crucifix might lead to beating — then would it be ok to ban all crucifixes?
This took me 3 seconds to find with Google:
WASHINGTON â€” The Supreme Court passed up a chance Monday to consider if states can ban members of the Ku Klux Klan (search) and other groups from wearing masks at public gatherings.
Justices without comment rejected an appeal from an offshoot of the KKK whose members wear white robes, hoods and masks.
The Church of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (search) had challenged as unconstitutional a New York law that allows loitering charges against someone who is “masked or in any manner disguised by unusual or unnatural attire or facial alteration.”
And you cannot hide your face in many places in public, by the way. A woman a few years ago tried having her picture taken with her Burqa on and was told to reveal her face. She also went to court and lost.
There are other instances as well.
So, I’m sorry, but I didn’t make it up. =) There are circumstances, state to state, which determine whether or not you can cover your face.
And I don’t care if people wear crucifixes. Crucifixes, while stupid to me, do not represent the erasure of Women in society. So I couldn’t care less, even as Atheistic as I am. But Burqas? Yes, I rather enjoy their ban. It pleases me. =)
“And I don’t care if people wear crucifixes. Crucifixes, while stupid to me, do not represent the erasure of Women in society. So I couldn’t care less, even as Atheistic as I am. But Burqas? Yes, I rather enjoy their ban. It pleases me. =)”
That’s not what burqas represent. That’s what they are used for, but not what their purpose is supposed to be. Man, I’m the last person who should be defending the things, especially since I staked a position earlier in the comments against them.
But since honor killings have been exported to the west a stand really should be taken.
The history of the various veils is pretty interesting, though. Islam in general, is, too, for what it could have been and for what it’s been used to justify over the last 1500 years or so.
I know what they are “supposed” to represent. But the fact is that they *do* represent the erasure of Women in society. I wouldn’t use the Suras to make any claims of meaning as they are absolutely meaningless to me in a practical context. =)
Also, the argument that “some Women want to wear them” is equally meaningless to me. Some slaves defended slavery during the civil war – proudly so. That didn’t make their arguments any more worthwhile in favor of it.
But, tell you what, “defenders” of the Burquas…I’ll make you a deal:
You go out and protest the fact that Women cannot walk around freely in certain countries without it, that they cannot drive in Saudi Arabia, that they cannot walk outside of the house without a Male escort in those same countries, and a whole host of other sexist laws upon pain of torture or death – and I mean protest loudly every day in the media and in the streets in front of embassies – and you get those laws overturned, and I’ll be glad to work to help to overturn this ban after the fact. Because until Women are free in the entire world to really choose whether or not to wear this rag, then I will never buy the argument from any of you, no matter if they are Female or Male, that some may choose to wear it when they are right in the head and thinking clearly and rationally. =)
Until then, good luck trying to convince me. I won’t be able to hear you because my laughter is really, really, loud. =)
“I know what they are ‘supposed’ to represent. But the fact is that they *do* represent the erasure of Women in society.”
They represent that TO WHOM? I live in a country where face veils are common; to the women who wear them, that’s not at all what they represent. If Westerners see some weird symbolism that isn’t inherent in it to the people who wear it, then whose fault is that? It’s not niqabi women’s problem that Westerners see some other message in them.
“Also, the argument that ‘some Women want to wear them’ is equally meaningless to me.”
So Muslim women are so brainwashed and deluded that they can’t be trusted to make their own decisions about what they wear? That’s a little patronizing, don’t you think?
When women aren’t beaten or killed anymore in certain societies or groups for not wearing the veil then, as I said, I’ll be someone who considers reversing course on the ban.
Until then, I will not be convinced by anecdotes.
I see lots and lots of spluttering and protestation at the ban, but I see almost none of the same directed at other societies where these dress codes are codified into law or social customs.
Where is the outrage, for instance, against laws and norms which do not permit me to dress however I want to dress in Islamic countries? I don’t see anyone raising up a storm on web sites because Western Women can’t walk around dressed up however they like in certain places in the world, do I? I don’t see huge movements in the digital world raising scorn on those laws, demanding that they be overturned.
Not really. I hear a few snipes, a few snide remarks, a few shrugs and “oh well, you know it’s their world and they’re crazy” sort of comments, but no real movements against it.
So why should I care what France does to ban the Burqa and do its own thing? I don’t, other than the fact that I really do enjoy rubbing it into the wounds of the religiously-minded. So yes, that does please me, and yes, I’m still laughing about it. And no, I really don’t care what you think about my attitude. I haven’t seen anything to suggest that equality dominates this discussion at all, so I could fucking care less. =)
I suggest taking the same approach that the Islamists take if I were to visit their country and were forced to wear a veil: If you don’t like it, then leave.
“When women aren’t beaten or killed anymore in certain societies or groups for not wearing the veil then, as I said, I’ll be someone who considers reversing course on the ban.”
There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. I think it’s ridiculous to justify ill treatment of some of them on the basis that others of them do terrible things.
“Where is the outrage, for instance, against laws and norms which do not permit me to dress however I want to dress in Islamic countries?”
There are a few Islamic countries that restrict dress; many do not. I live in a strict Wahhabist country, and I’m allowed to wear anything from a bikini to a burqa. It embarrasses me that Western cultures want to be more restrictive than Muslim ones.
Oh, I am getting off your lawn right this second. Because you sound like my mother.
Your comment reveals your lack of concern for the women impacted by these laws. They’ll just stop leaving the house. In some cases because their male custodians won’t let them. In other cases, because they feel like they’re surrounded by an angry mob who wants to rip their clothes off of them in public. Your outrage over a piece of fabric will force them back into the home or back to countries where they have far less choice.
Some Islamic women regard being forced to go veil-less in public the way that many US women would feel about being told that they couldn’t go into a bank or a school unless they were topless. Legally forcing women to remove clothing in order to go through daily life is despicable and just as rooted in male supremacy as forcing them to wear the niqab.
I’d actually be concerned about your comment about women becoming limited by this law if it weren’t for the fact that it was the same exact excuse given when France banned head coverings in public schools. Naturally, it has been a few years and nobody has actually stopped going to school because they are no longer allowed to wear veils or headscarves (or crucifixes or other religious items). In fact, some of the girls have expressed being grateful for having the excuse to tell their families, who forced them previously to wear them in school, that they can no longer wear them or the family will be fined. The government actually gave the girls an excuse they needed to be able to take them off without shame.
And wearing a face veil will produce the same result. Some women will continue to wear the Abaya, but they will tell their families that it is no longer allowed to cover the face. The families, as they have previously done in the last few years, will adapt. They may not like it, but they’ll understand that it is now the law and they have to obey it.
I also think you should look into “Ni Putes, Ni Soumises” in regards to your comments, because I really don’t think you understand what some women (who are Muslim, and who reject the veil) themselves think about this insane issue.
I also suggest that you take very seriously the contention that some women need the excuse given by government so as to really freely unveil and not suffer the hell of gang rapes in the banlieues.
That’s the site in French. I suggest you read it.
I think this actually says quite a bit:
“Je dÃ©clare quâ€™on atteint le summum de lâ€™endoctrinement quand lâ€™esclave intÃ¨gre ses chaÃ®nes comme normales, lorsquâ€™elle ne peut plus penser autrement que par le prisme dâ€™une sociÃ©tÃ© qui la convainc depuis la plus tendre enfance Ã travers les traditions, les cours de religion, les prÃªches que sa nature de femme la prÃ©dispose Ã occuper une position dâ€™infÃ©rioritÃ©, de soumission. Câ€™est cette mÃªme violence symbolique qui pousse les mÃ¨res Ã infliger Ã leurs filles les violences comme le mariage forcÃ©, les mutilations sexuelles gÃ©nitales dont elles ont Ã©tÃ© elles-mÃªmes victimes.”
Antinous – upon overnight reflection, the one thing that truly bothers me about your comments on this thread is your use of the term “male custodians” in #55.
The phrase seems to roll off your tongue (err… keyboard) so darned smoothly. If not necessarily approval, your usage at least seems to imply that this concept is something which France should learn to accept.
I would find it difficult to bring the phrase “male custodians” into a blog post without preceding it with “self styled”. Use of the phrase in FTF conversation would be unlikely on my part without the accompaniment of major air quotes.
Children are mostly regarded as chattel property, and in many countries, the father is effectively the owner. In quite a few societies, all family members are de facto property of the head of household. I don’t advocate that anyone should accept any part of that.
Is it patronizing? Muslim women have been brainwashed and deluded into doing far, far worse things: giving up their right to leave home without an escort, and without being molested, giving up their right to intact genitals, giving up their right to operate a vehicle, and on, and on, and on.
This is a bit like protesting that no one could take you for $5, when we know you’ve already been taken for $5 million. If they can be brainwashed into disfiguring their daughters then, yes, they can be brainwashed into wearing dehumanizing clothes. That’s not patronizing. It’s a simple observation.
So….using the full force of law to make women dress according to French custom is the way to cure using the full force of law to make women dress according to Islamic custom?
That’s crack talk.
That isn’t a ban on KKK uniforms, it’s a ban on covering your face. It says so right there in the text you quoted. Under this law a KKK member who wore the robes but left his face exposed would be fine, but someone wearing a balaclava wouldn’t be. Do you see how this is different from banning KKK uniforms?
And my question wasn’t whether you mind if people wear crucifixes, it was whether you would care if a federal law banned the wearing of them completely.
Maybe you failed to read my first line that I posted:
“It’s illegal to walk in public in the USA with a full KKK regalia on which covers your face”
And the Burqa ban is banning the same thing: covering the face. You can still wear the Abaya.
Maybe you failed to read my first line that I posted: “It’s illegal to walk in public in the USA with a full KKK regalia on which covers your face” And the Burqa ban is banning the same thing: covering the face. You can still wear the Abaya.
You’re still failing to get the point, or at least pretending to be failing.
The New York law bans loitering with anything that covers the face, for security reasons. It doesn’t matter what it is. It isn’t aimed at KKK uniforms or burkas.
The French law is specifically banning the burka, for reasons associated with religion.
It’s not a law about covering the face. Do you not see the difference?
In the US, such a law would never fly. We have something called the right to free speech. Under it, you can dress as member of the KKK or as a religious fanatic all you want.
The fact that you have to abide by laws preventing loitering with a covered face is no different from the fact that you also may not jaywalk while wearing a KKK uniform. The law is against jaywalking and covered faces, not against KKK uniforms and burkas.
Do you believe it’s a good thing or a bad thing that the US protects the rights of people to express their religion through their dress?
Oh, man! I was in Paris on monday and even walking by that monument in the back (no, not the tower thingy, the one between the girls and the tower). Man, I should’ve seen them. Arr. :)
…so hubby comes in, sees the pic, and frowns, clearly disapproving.
“What?? It’s political protest! Freedom of speech! All that good stuff!”
It is SO funny watching conflicting emotions scudder across his face like that. His head just might explode from the idealogical dissonance!
I think I’ll keep this as my desktop background for at LEAST a week ^___^!
This is cool beans!!!
I am gay though…
There’s no burqa ban in france, and the law project is in process of being droped.
Rest assured, our politicians did not realize that prohibition is not a solution but education and fighting misery are. It was just generating bad media coverage (“there are more serious things to take care of”) and in regard to the recent elections it showed to be an overall bad hype move.
Are you people sure this isn’t an April fools that got the wrong date due to time zone differences?
What I think we may have all forgotten is the fundamental difference in the societies; France is a secular state (although Catholicism is widely practiced). Islamic states such as Afghanistan are not secular states. Their laws are based on the laws of the religion. This is why visitors to that country must, in general, cover their heads (although they do NOT have to wear a full burqa). However, France, as a secular state, is placing restriction on a religious practise. Perhaps whether this is a proper reflection of what the religion requires or not should be inspected.
I’m not condoning any form of suppression, I’m not even giving my personal opinion of the Burqa ban; however, I believe that there are considerable ramifications when looking at this aspect of the ban.
considering the temps in paris haven’t been above 60F in between torrents of rain, hail, and howling winds, I’m betting that their burquas have just shrunk in the chilly air.
I think it’s a cunning stunt.
Looks like the French learned too well from the Nazis they surrendered to. How can they even think of legislating what people may wear?
First they came for the fanatics,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a fanatic.
Then they came for the bigots,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a bigot.
Then they came for the assholes,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t an asshole.
Then they came for the weirdos,
and I didnâ€™t speak up because I wasn’t a weirdo.
Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
She wore an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot buh-burqa!
In fact, some of the girls have expressed being grateful for having the excuse to tell their families
I’m sure that’s true. For the girls that they were actually able to speak with. But it’s selection bias to assume that they represent the girls who are trapped in the home.
I also think you should look into “Ni Putes, Ni Soumises” in regards to your comments
Ni Putes Ni Soumises has been criticized by various French feminists and left-wing authors (Sylvie Tissot, Elsa Dorlin, Etienne Balibar, Houria Bouteldja, etc.), who claimed that it overshadowed the work of other feminist NGOs and that it supported a racist, Islamophobic instrumentalization of feminism by the French Right, as if forms of Islamic feminism were impossible.
– from the Wikipedia article that you linked
Once again, this ban has more to do with French cultural imperialism than with concern for women. There are ways to support women’s rights that don’t involve legislating what they can wear to leave the house. Imagine China banning abortions as a way to stop female infanticide. Two wrongs don’t make a right. This law victimizes women.
I’d like to second what Notary Sojac just posted:
“I would -like- to think that, in an ostensibly free country such as France, for a “male custodian” to exhibit such behavior would be punishable as kidnapping, or at the least false imprisonment.”
Your assumption, Antinous, is then that Males actually do control the women wearing the veil? In that case, you agree completely that those women are being oppressed, even in France. If they are allowed, or not allowed, to leave the house based on the manner of their dress, as dictated to by their guardians, then the argument no longer is about whether or not they really are choosing to wear the veil, but what can we do to liberate them from these chains.
And then you enter into my realm, thank you. It’s called the realm of reality. It’s a realm where women may have the “right” to not wear the veil, but know damned well that if they don’t…”bad things can happen.”
I suggest that you’re barking up the wrong tree. =)
And now, I’m going to have dinner. =)
Well said, Summer.
France, Britain, America, Canada — these and other nations who have (bit by bit and not yet completely) trimmed back the theocratic impulse over the last two centuries, are not obligated, by virtue of their openness, to accept incremental accretions of theocracy under the guise of “tolerance”.
Quoting Notary Sojac to reply to me is poor form. I said ‘some’ in my original comment.
The laws that prevent women in the US from going topless were universally instituted by men or male-controlled legislative bodies. And yet, many women wouldn’t be very happy to be told that they have to go topless to enter their bank. You’re creating a false dichotomy: male-dominated versus veil-less. It’s vastly more nuanced than that.
Banning the veil will likely please many Muslim women. It will also outrage many. Why are you deaf to their voices? It reeks of cultural imperialism to tell them how to empower themselves.
“from the Wikipedia article that you linked”
Do you actually endorse what these people think about ni putes ni soumises? Do you see a link between what this organization fights for and racism?
ni putes ni soumises is great. If the critics listed in the wikipedia article really think ni putes ni soumises is racist, they have about as much credibility as the people who say Obama is Hitler.
“Once again, this ban has more to do with French cultural imperialism than with concern for women.”
I think this is absolute nonsense. Please, either explain, or replace “imperialism” with “xenophobia”. At least there would be something to argue about.
Accusations of being “racist” have been overused to the point where they are about as meaningful as accusations of being a “poopy head”. The burden of proof in such an accusation clearly belongs with the accuser.
I think its a great protest, power to the people!
“They’ll just stop leaving the house. In some cases because their male custodians won’t let them.”
I would -like- to think that, in an ostensibly free country such as France, for a “male custodian” to exhibit such behavior would be punishable as kidnapping, or at the least false imprisonment.
As would I. But that poses the question of how the authorities would know. Warrantless door-to-door searches? Civil liberties aside, would that improve the lives of these girls? It’s a morass. Banning the burqa is a crude solution, meant to pander to Nationalists and creating as many problems as it solves.
On a disturbing note – my spell check doesn’t recognize ‘warrantless’ as a word. We need a Spell Check: Boing Boing Edition.
“It’s a morass.”
I suspect, Antinous, that I find it less of a morass than you. Possibly because “meant to pander to Nationalists” is somewhat less of an issue to me than it might be to you.
As a solution that might be acceptable to both parties, I would suggest an advertising campaign, targeted in the areas of France where full or partial veils are commonly worn.
Something like this: Billboards/TV/magazine ads showing two women, one wearing a full burqa and one in normal business dress (modest cut and color, but with head and arms fully uncovered). Caption: “In France, women are free to dress as they please. This right is guaranteed by our judicial system, which is here to protect you.”
And then of course it must be backed up by the judicial system’s giving full protection to those women who seek it.
I could certainly live with that in lieu of a burqa ban.
Sojac, I like your suggestion. If we’re worried women are being told what to wear, telling them they can wear what they like seems like a more logical response than telling them what to wear. :-)
People who come to my country are free to bring their religion to mine. They are also free to bring their customs to mine.
Until they start bringing customs which oppress other residents (whether those residents are part of their culture or not). THAT I will resist with every means I can.
For a reason I cannot understand, this point of view is sometimes considered controversial on BB.
The problem with this sort of law is that: in cases where women are wearing the niqab voluntarily, it’s nobody’s business; in cases where they’re being forced into it, the law criminalizes the victims. Laws that criminalize victims, although common, are misguided.
“…Until they start bringing customs which oppress other residents (whether those residents are part of their culture or not). THAT I will resist with every means I can.
For a reason I cannot understand, this point of view is sometimes considered controversial on BB.”
Don’t be ridiculous. Nobody here is arguing FOR Muslim men oppressing women. We’re arguing that the government limiting women’s freedom of expression is a lousy way to liberate them.
Education is always the only long term solution to public issues. When you push people, they just push back harder.
Oh, piffle. The same thing was said by opponents of civil rights legislation in the US. But, in fact, enormous amounts of discriminatory behavior were reduced when it passed. Some of the evidence suggests, for example, that employers needed the cover of legal mandates to hire the minorities they’d been wanting to hire: prior to the legislation, social pressure prevented them from doing it. The change was sweeping, abrupt, and irreversible, if not perfect or complete.
Oh, piffle. The same thing was said by opponents of civil rights legislation in the US.
Oh, bullshit. Point me to the civil rights legislation that required a change in behavior by the victims of discrimination.
Antinous, let me quote what you said, that I replied to:
“Education is always the only long term solution to public issues.”
Your implication being that legislation doesn’t work. But you’re wrong. It does work. It has worked. It’s recorded history. It’s not “bullshit.” I didn’t remark on whether this particular legislation will fail because it requires a change in the behavior of the victims.
I think you’re wrong about that, too, but it’s not what I replied to.
Your implication being that legislation doesn’t work. But you’re wrong. It does work. It has worked. It’s recorded history.
This kind of law is indeed recorded history. They’re called Jim Crow laws.
Every one is free to chose the way he want to look like it’s just a basic human right none would be hurt if a woman cover her self or walk around with a bikini so why this kind of stupid law who violate a basic human right
Ah, the never-ending burqa-baloo! Just my white-male weigh in: It’s 2010(pronounced twenty-ten)… Compulsory gender-based dress-codes? Still? Really?
Let’s just hope the fundies don’t get any ideas from their Islamic brothers and start reinstating mandatory petticoats, bonnets, bustles, corsets, and pantaloons.
You’re all going to hell because you don’t worship Huitzilopochtli. Obviously strong laws need to be passed restricting your right to wear what you please. It’s for your own good, and for the good of oppressed people you’ve never met somewhere you believe propaganda about.
Oh, hey, bikinis!
This looks like a celebration, not a protest. I’m in favor of suggestions that this is just mislabeled. :) Totally serious, it looks like happy celebration.
I live in an area where hijab, burkha, and niqab are fairly common. I accept the likelihood that many of those women I see covered from head to toe.- Well, maybe not toe, there are often smart shoes, toeless, strappy high heels, with a naughty flaunt of sparkly nail polish…..
I accept many of those women wear those things because it is the way their culture expects them to dress, and they thus do it out of free choice.
If I were an islamic woman, I would be allowed to enter a shopping centre, bank, or government office, completely veiled. What I resent is that, if I, as an man, were to go into that place with my face covered by a scarf, a ski mask, a crash helmet, whatever, I would be stopped and told to remove it, (at the very least,) more likely I’d be pinned to the floor by security guards and dragged away in handcuffs.
Where is the equality there?
If I go to Saudi Arabia, as a tourist, and drink alcohol, which is sanctioned by MY religion’s holy book, I would be arrested.
Clearly, my argument that it was part of my culture would not be a valid defence.
Islamic countries, for the most part, require and enforce codes of behaviour which require non-moslems to behave in a manner acceptable to moslems.
Why then is it so bad to suggest that moslems travelling to non-moslem countries respect both the laws AND CUSTOMS of those countries?
Imagine a counter scenario to the outcry against the banning of the burkha.
Lets imagine a sizeable population of christians living in an arabic country, all protesting their right to take bacon sandwiches to school, or to work. How accommodating would we expect an Islamic, or, for that matter, a Jewish government to be?
We seem to be debating a ban that doesn’t actually exist. but seeing how many people support such a ban here, it seems important to address why that would be a problem.
the posts show 4 categories that people identify about women who veil:
1. women who, with full knowledge and free choice, voluntarily wear the burqa.
2. women who think they want to wear the burqa, but are actually brainwashed victims of patriarchal oppression.
3. women who dont want to wear the burqa but do out of fear of reprisal.
4. women who dont want to wear the burqa and are relieved to have an excuse to shed this particular oppression.
i think that all of these women exist, there is not one simple understanding of what the burqa is to all muslim women. nor is there only one way that islam is lived and practiced, so the consequences of covering or not are different for different women.
but whatever it means, banning the burqa, doesn’t really benefit any of these women:
-for the voluntary wearer, it removes her right to dress according to her beliefs and standards of modesty.
-for the ‘brainwashed’ wearer, it fails to address her understanding of womens’ rights and position in society, it is just another man telling her what to wear.
-For the woman who wears it because she is threatened with punishment, it doesn’t liberate her from a situation where she is subject to punishment for other ‘offences’.
-for the woman needing an excuse not to veil, it doesn’t deal with the problem that she feels obligated to live/dress in a way she doesn’t want to. a legal excuse not to wear the burqa doesn’t get her out of a situation where she feels her life choices are restricted.
if anyone is truly concerned about the position of women under some interpretations and practices of Islam, and i certainly agree that there are damn good reasons for concern, then they have to look a helluva lot deeper than the veil.
Every culture has standards of which body parts are OK to show in public and which aren’t. In Western culture, the face is public. In the Arabic Peninsula culture, it’s not.
So to us covering our faces seems weird and bad, and it’s hard to imagine that a woman would ever CHOOSE that for herself. But I would suggest that this is a failure in our imagination, not a failure in Arab culture.
An Andamanese aborigine might imagine that I feel oppressed because I am forced to cover my breasts all the time. I, however, do not feel oppressed; I wear what I want to because it seems normal and natural to me, because I grew up in a culture where everyone covers their breasts. By Summer’s reasoning, though, my own feelings on the matter should be disregarded; I can’t be trusted to know whether I’m oppressed or not. The state should liberate me by forcing me to go topless all the time — only that way can I stand up to my parents, who so cruelly raised me to wear a shirt all the time!
The whole debate is poppycock. If we’re concerned about Muslim women’s freedoms then by all means let’s talk about inequalities in marriage laws, citizenship rights, legal testimony. Let’s talk about actual ISSUES that affect Muslim women, not pretend that the solution is to regulate what bits of cloth people cover themselves with, as though the arbitrary Western standards of decency are somehow more rational than the arbitrary Arab ones.
“Every culture has standards of which body parts are OK to show in public and which aren’t.”
And every culture has standard for beating up their wife when they show too many body parts? Sorry but this line of thought is very condescending to freedom loving people of Persian or Arab origin for example. This isn’t a question of cultural relativism and trying to fit it in this box is an extremely egocentric way of simplifying the issue in order to put it aside and sleep better at night. IMO.
And I think that it’s condescending and egocentric to equate “freedom-loving” with “face-showing.” France is trying to REDUCE Muslim women’s freedom to dress how they want. How is that freedom-loving?
If the issue is violence in relationships, then let’s address violence in relationships. Butting into people’s clothing decisions seems like an odd way of doing that!
Equating faces with breasts is quite an incredible stretch. A good sized portion of the human brain is devoted to face recognition. It is the primary means we have evolved for identifying people. The face plays a large role in human communication. Veils separate women from all of that. It makes them less able to participate in human social structures. There are huge numbers of activities which cannot be performed with veils. Veils have the effect of preventing women from fully participating in human society. Breasts play no such role. In fact, covering breasts probably has the opposite effect: making it easier for women to participate in human society, by minimizing sex differences in appearance.
A good sized portion of the human brain is devoted to face recognition.
That might be true for breasts as well – like faces, some people see them everywhere.
In fact, covering breasts probably has the opposite effect: making it easier for women to participate in human society, by minimizing sex differences in appearance.
More seriously, there’s something very weird about this, suggesting that women fit better into society when they look less like women. That’s all the burqa is for: hiding secondary sexual characteristics, which happen to be plain from the face as well as the body.
“In fact, covering breasts probably has the opposite effect: making it easier for women to participate in human society, by minimizing sex differences in appearance.”
Interesting point. Can we take that jump from sexual to cosmetic?
As a young woman who has pockmarked skin and an otherwise plain face, it’s occurred to me frequently in the past how much easier life and socialization would be for me if I could cover my face. I don’t wear make-up because it only accentuates my scars, so I look even plainer.
Personal self-consciousness has always affected my behaviour around others, and no doubt that, as much as my looks, have affected their treatment of me. I would be delirious with joy if I could be as free in the physical world with people I know as I am with people online.
Like the women we describe who would love the legal excuse of abandoning their face veils, I’m one that would love the religious excuse of wearing one.
As an introvert, you can sign me up, too.
“A good sized portion of the human brain is devoted to face recognition. It is the primary means we have evolved for identifying people.”
Have you ever lived in a culture where women tend to cover their faces? In 6 years, I’ve never confused one of my niqabi students for an other one. Americans are used to relying on particular cues to identify people; in the absence of those cues, you start to pay attention to other cues.
“It makes them less able to participate in human social structures. There are huge numbers of activities which cannot be performed with veils.”
Again, as someone living in a culture where women veil, I think this is simply untrue. Women drive in veils. Women play soccer in veils.
So, in summary, you think that our culture just happens to have hit on the exact rational balance of covering things that would be distracting, but not covering things that wouldn’t be distracting. I get very suspicious when people (Arab or Western) start to think that their culture’s norms are self-evidently rational.
Let’s talk about actual ISSUES that affect Muslim women, not pretend that the solution is to regulate what bits of cloth people cover themselves with, as though the arbitrary Western standards of decency are somehow more rational than the arbitrary Arab ones.
I am glad that my home town (Austin Texas) has in its charter that women can go topless if they choose to do so. There are a few locations around town where this regularly occurs, and it does not disrupt society in the slightest. I know women who nurse in public who find this to be quite a relief.
I like this protest…
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