Ban the Burkini? Or Ban Middle-Aged White Male Decision-Makers?

Legislation covers everyone, not just the few women who dress in a way you find threatening

If they ban the burkini, I am going to buy one, and I will fucking wear it till it wears out. I may customise it.

Horrible item of clothing. Its very existence is abhorrent to me. The need to have an item of clothing that conceals everything. What does that say? But that is my opinion, and I have met several women who wear it, and feel empowered by it. Which kind of makes my ‘opinion’ irrelevant.

Likewise the burqa. White, middle aged men talk about how much empathy they feel with the oppressed women of Islam, decrying the burqa as a symbol of everything that is wrong with Islam’s attitude to women. In their response have come up with an idea that in one swoop, removes the right of those women to freedom of religious expression through clothing, relocates autonomy over a woman’s body to the state, and apparently clarifies just how much of my flesh someone in the general public is expected to see before I am allowed to take part in society.

Here is a message, you don’t get to offer up control of women’s bodies to make a political point. Women’s bodies are not political battlegrounds. Since when did control over what I choose to wear become a pawn in political game, to be won or lost by white men I have never even met? Whats next? ‘Slutty’ clothes demean and disempower women, so we will ban those? Heels hurt their feet, let’s ban those?

Who precisely gets punished for the wearing of the said garment? The woman you say is forced to wear it? Or the man who ‘forces’ her? Apparently, in law, a man is assumed to have legal responsibility for what I wear, unless I can prove otherwise? My capacity to choose needs to be limited for my own protection? Protection from what precisely?

There are millions of women who have been and are in abusive controlling relationships. Are we going to ban every single item used in that abuse? I know a woman who was forced to wear Boden clothes, so she wouldn’t look slutty. Are we banning Boden?

Whats next? Tackle domestic violence by making it a crime to be punched?Burkini by Giorgio Montersino

You might want to look up the meaning of the word liberation. You don’t liberate women by telling them what to wear. If liberating women is your game, I could point to about a dozen laws which need to be changed or strengthened. Changes which could improve choices for women across the UK (and France, since the burkini ban happened there) immediately, and without removing their basic democratic rights. I cannot fathom how turning the control over what a woman wears into a power struggle between her husband and the state, while criminalising her for being abused even fits the loosest definition of the word liberation.

But then, this idea is not being discussed as a way to attack MY democratic rights is it? We are not liberating me? Its just them oppressed Muslim wimmins. They are not like us are they? Muslim=terrorist, right? Except that these are Muslim women, and Muslim woman equals battered brainless chattel, obviously. Those smart intelligent women appearing on Newsnight to defend their right to wear what they choose, are clearly lying. As are the women I know who wear the veil, niqab, and burka, while operating as solicitors, social workers, and teachers.

Funnily enough, most women I know who have felt pressure to wear the veil, niqab, and burqa haven’t been pressured by their families, but by the need to assert their faith in the face of blatant islamophobia from government, press, and public. Getting through a day in burqa, is hard enough, and not because of the restricted visibility, but because of the spitting in the street, and abuse that it brings. Hardly the best getaway garment in the current climate.

Who knew, all you needed to do to get support for an idea that sets us back as a society for hundreds of years, and which removes basic rights for everyone, and introduces basic gender inequality to statute books, was the example of a few brown people being a bit different. We can’t have that, can we?

Legislation covers everyone, not just the few women who dress in a way you find threatening.

Image by Giorgio Montersino. CC SA 2.0
Fence image: Pixabay/Hans

1 Comment

  1. I have met a lot of Middle Eastern feminists who fight a courageous fight against the ridiculous demands put upon them by their male religious leaders. They literally risk their lives to try to lead an independent life, not to be murdered and maimed if they don’t cover up, decide to live alone, have a job etc. It saddens me that the discussion is all about the right to cover up and it saddens me even more that western feminist have taken it upon themselves to defend religious extremist demands whilst totally forgetting their ‘sisters’ who want to live outside sectarian religious demands. Where is their freedom, where is their support, where are their outraged facebook posts and discussions and most important: When will our spoilt western ‘feminists’ with their pointless ‘gender-neutral-toilet-activism’ start backing up the real feminists?

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