What We Missed

The French government is in talks about potentially banning the burqa.
Jon Stewart and Mike Huckabee talk abortion. (h/t to community poster Irre!)
Random feel-good story of the day: Great grandmothers 86-year-old Emma Dausman and 69-year-old Judy Conner become Chicago state bowling champions.
Shakes takes on how folks are using Senator Boxer asking to be called “Senator” as opposed to “ma’am” as a juicy opportunity to talk about what an “uppity bitch” she and the rest of those damn liberal women are.
Check out this ridiculous UK Mail Online piece on the ‘epidemic of pregnancy’ among women older than 30 and how those who become mothers in their 30s are ‘defying nature.’ Yes, really.
Bacardi reaches the ultimate low with their new campaign targeting women: “Get an Ugly Girlfriend” to look more attractive.

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126 Comments

  1. bifemmefatale
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    The French government really needs to stop dressing up their Islamophobia as “concern” for Muslim women. Believe it or not, mes amis, some Muslim women really do choose to wear a burqa or niqab, and it’s none of your damned business, comprenez?

  2. Katwomandu
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    I’m in Florida, and it was 94 degrees today. If someone had walked by me on the street wearing a burqa, I would definitely be concerned. Does that make me Islamaphobic?

  3. Posted June 19, 2009 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    In Montreal, I’ve seen a man leading a woman in a burqa on a leash. It offends my sensibilities. If I’m in favor of outlawing such practices in the streets of my city, am I Islamaphobic, too? I would never go to a Muslim country that frowns upon it and walk around in a mini-skirt and a huge cleavage out of respect for people’s feelings. Why shouldn’t my sensibilities be respected at least in some places?

  4. Jeffrey
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I think the problem here is that this is not happening in a Muslim country where there is no choice.
    You can’t empower women and limit their choices at the same time. S, if a woman wants to wear a burqa she should be able to.
    Obviously, in Muslim countries she is forced into such a predicament and she simply cannot get out. In France, I don’t think it is the same.
    Even if you assume that the burqa (is this word supposed to be capitalized btw) is a symbol of oppression, the idea of banning it seems to me just double oppression.
    “Not only is your husband disrespectful of your body, but the state is disrespectful of your religion.”
    I’m no expert on Muslim religions or women in them, but I think the French government is on dangerous ground.

  5. TeenMommy
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    You should be able to walk around in a mini skirt and a belly-baring top anywhere on the planet if you want to. That isn’t the case right now, but the fact that people let their sensibilities or religion limit the personal freedom of others even when that personal freedom has nothing to do with them does not mean it’s right.
    Your sensibilities are not automatically meaningful or reasonable. They don’t need to be respected by anyone as long as flouting them isn’t affecting you or your life in a more concrete way than “It annoys me to see other people living lives in a way I would not.”

  6. Tracey T
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    I don’t see how the leash is relevant when discussing a ban on the burqa or niqab. I’ve seen women led around on leashes and none of them were in hijab, niqab, or burka.
    Also, you may not wear a mini skirt in a country where it was considered inappropriate but you should have every right too. Not to mention many of these women are citizens or lont-time residents. The French governmetn should respect them and not try to take away their right to dress themselves as they please.
    You don’t have a right to have your sensebilities respected especially when they infringe upon someone else’s actual right to control of their body. I don’t think it necessarily makes you an Islamophobe (though considering the number of people who wear and are led on leashes and your apparent attempt to tie that one incident to the burqa is suspect), but it does show that you ahve no respect to people’s right to control of their on bodies.
    Even if the burqa is imposed in SOME cases, taking away people’s right to wear one is not the remedy. It’s a different side of the same coin. Women’s bodies as public v. Private property.

  7. Tracey T
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Also, the way the French government is talking is very broad and totalitarian/1984/ Brave New Worldish.
    They are thinking about banning all long gowns and outfits that completely cover a woman? WTH? That is just scary. In other words women should be told how to dress by the government and the government has the right to dictate to women that they show a certain amount of skin and/or reveal their shape. That is BS.

  8. proudfeminist
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    In many European countries the Burka is already banned because you must be recognizable in public.

  9. Lisa
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    You know, there is plenty of room for debate about the role the burqa and other Islamic practices have in the oppression of female practitioners. Let me make it clear, I hardly see the burqa as a shining of beacon of women’s freedom.
    However, the idea of “liberating” women by legally denying them the right to something they likely see as an important religious observance in a country where they do so by choice is completely backwards. Particularly when that country has very serious problems with xenophobia and racism towards Muslim immigrants. Threatening religious practices has a tendency to create a backlash which results in even more strict, orthodox forms.
    If the concern is that some women within Islamic enclaves don’t really have a choice because of pressure from the community and family, then why not use the resources that will go towards pushing and enforcing this ban to form organizations that can help women who want out. And really, if the community or men in the family are exerting that sort of control on the women then there are a lot of other concerns that need to be addressed long before attire. In fact, in extreme cases where a woman is experiencing that kind of pressure, banning the burqa could severely limit what freedoms she has.

  10. Jeffrey
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    I’m actually a little bothered by Senator Boxer’s comment. I don’t think she handled herself very well. On the other hand, I feel as if the General handled himself very well and did a good job of being respectful.
    My whole opinion would have been different if she had said “General, could you please call me Senator…” Then, I would take no issue at all with it. She has every right to be asked to be called Senator, but she could show the same respect back to General Walsh. I don’t know how difficult it is to get to be a Senator, but I know it’s no cakewalk getting to be a General either.
    Also, in the army you are trained to call everyone Ma’am and Sir, right up to the President of the United States. He certainly meant no disrespect to her, though she seemed to be quite disrespectful to him.
    I think she owes General Walsh an apology.

  11. Jeffrey
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    I agree, and just want to add there’s nothing wrong with stopping and asking the woman in a burqa if she is okay, or if she needs help.

  12. Jessica
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Test

  13. hotcoco44
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t think the article about pregnancy past age 35 was at all offensive or un-feminist. Within the context of the piece, the comment on an “epidemic of pregnancy” in that age group of women was a perfectly sensible remark. The focus of the article was on the ways in which the health of both the woman and the baby can be harmed when “older” women give birth. This is, quite simply, a true scientific statement. It is NOT an anti-woman statement by any means. The article argues that the ideal childbearing age is between 20 and 35. Yes, this may not fit into the aspiring professional woman’s perfect vision of success, but it is a biological fact. The doctors quoted in the article make perfectly clear that they do not want to hinder a woman’s choice to bear children at whatever age she choses. They simply want to let women know that they and their baby have a much lower risk of complications when they give birth in that 20-35 age range.
    I truly don’t mean any offense by this, but one thing that really frustrates me in the feminist community (of which I am a proud member myself), is when certain facts get distorted to be seen as anti-feminist, when in reality they are just that: facts. This “childbearing age” is one prime example of it. The other big example is when feminists argue against the anti-choice claim that women who have abortions become depressed and regret their decision. Obviously not all women who have an abortion will suffer from depression as a result, but it cannot be denied that some women will indeed be depressed after terminating a pregnancy. Of course, this is not a reason to dissuade women from choosing an abortion. But, it is a reason to fight for more pro-woman policies and laws that help women afford post-abortion counseling if necessary.
    And in relation to this UK article on childbearing age, it would be anti-feminist to force or try to persuade women to have children before 35. However, it is very pro-feminism/pro-woman to give women the facts about the risks of bearing children when they are older than 35. This is providing them with some important health information, that has been largely ignored in our society. If more women knew about the risks of later-age childbearing, more women would be having children earlier. This does not mean that they would have to sacrifice their career to do so. Therefore, I think the feminist community loses a lot of credibility when it tries to make arguments against certain biological, women’s health, or mental health issues. It goes against the very meaning of feminism.
    Sorry if this post was long and rambling, but I hope you will understand the point I’m trying to make. Just to make very clear, I am a proud feminist, always have been, always will be. But facts are facts. And when it comes to women’s health, the facts should not be ignored or misconstrued.

  14. Brianna G
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    Actually, in hot sunny weather a burka over a bathing suit or underwear would be kinda nice. Go into all the facilities you want without being banned for exposure, protection from the sun on the street without greasy sunscreen…

  15. Lisa
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    Which countries have imposed a general public ban on Burqas?

  16. lyndorr
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    It’s true. I knew someone who didn’t choose to wear a headscarf but she got used to it and I do believe it was her decision to go from a headscarf to a burqa. People might want to say that wasn’t a free choice but hey, I didn’t really have the freedom to choose whether to wear a bra. Now that I’m out of adolescence I feel like I could choose not to wear one at times but I’m just so used to that it would feel weird to change.
    And I’m wary of slippery slope arguments but I do wonder, if a country bans the burqa, what’s next?

  17. Brianna G
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    AGREED. With everything from autism to Down’s to prematurity to maternal health concerns linked to older parents, I think it’s reasonable to point out that without modern medical advances, we wouldn’t be having children in our forties (we would not live that long), so yes, it is technically unnatural to have children so late– and both the mother and the child pays for it. While a woman who thinks ahead can spare her child (and herself) the suffering associated with horrible illnesses by undergoing the painful and dangerous egg-collection process and freezing them, she then still risks a pregnancy with much higher risks of complications.
    And yet, the world is oddly silent on this extreme new risk to women’s health; we spend millions of dollars campaigning to stop teen pregnancy yet do not provide women with the essential information that they are putting their health in danger and risking a child with severe disabilities by waiting to have children. While one end of the spectrum hurts teens emotionally, socially, and financially if they carry the child to term, the other end of the spectrum causes death, permanent disability, and emotional anguish.
    It’s not some moral imposition on women to tell them that they are putting themselves and their future children in danger by waiting. They deserve informed consent before they make that decision; otherwise a woman reaches 40 and thinks that as long as she gets an amnio and eats right, her child will be fine, only to get blindsided with the doctors explaining the extremely elevated risks she and her child will have to face. Denying women this information is denying them the ability to make informed decisions about their healthcare and family planning choices.

  18. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    Some men use intimidation and fear to force their wives under the burqa.
    Not all middle eastern women – even living in the West – are still not severely oppressed in the home and afraid of their husbands of fathers.
    I hope they ban it. It is meant to be nothing but a marker of their virtue and, therefore, their worth. The reason behind the burqa is only by extension “religious” – Islam defines the value of women in terms of how many of them “equal” men in judicial affairs, inheritance affairs, etc. The burqa is meant to to externalize that “value”.

  19. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    edit: It is an oppressive piece of clothing by nature – and those who use it to oppress women, use our “cultural sensitivities” in the West in order to perpetuate its use by claiming it is their “religious right.”
    If there is a single woman living under a burqa against her will, we’ll never know – they are too afraid to say otherwise. That one woman is worth the rest of them having to take it off.
    Forgive me, I am from the Middle East and this issue is always infuriating to me.

  20. lyndorr
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    Heh, yeah, my grand-pa cannot understand why people wear shorts and and t-shirts which let the sun shine directly onto the skin. So I guess it depends what kind of material the burqa is made of. Seems like air might be able to get to the skin better than with some of the tight clothes we wear.

  21. Tracey T
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    You seem to suggest that if a woman is being forced to wear the burqa against her will in France, banning it will liberate her. I see no logic what so ever in that line of reasoning. Do you honestly think someone who is forcing someone into the burqa will let them walk around without it? If that’s your argument banning it may very well result in women being forced to stay home completely or only leave in the comapny of a male relative.
    Banning the burqa does nothing what so ever to address the oppression of women, and conflating the two as one in the same is problematic.
    “That one woman is worth the rest of them having to take it off”
    That’s just messed up. Taking freedom away from women who chose to is not the answer and never is. The problem is women not being able to make decisions about their body, control of a woman’s body isn’t benevolent just because it’s coming from the state. Being from the Middle East isn’t giving you a free pass to be controlling and patronizing as far as I’m concerned. If someone is really concerned with women’s rights, banning the burqa is a total cop out and isn’t that much different than enforcing it. I seriously doubt anyone can talk about passing laws that impose upon a person’s body and then say they care about that person’s rights.
    What’s infuriating to me is excusing people trying to exercise control of a woman’s body.

  22. Tracey T
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    I no I’ve made several posts but it really ticks me off how “concern” for women is used as a reason to actually make the lives of women worse and take aware our freedoms.
    People actually concerned about women who argue for these bans seem to only want to sweep something they see as a problem under the rug. How can anyone actually think this helps anyone? Seriously? Not to mention the assumptions inherient in the argument.
    There are ways to actually help women who may be in an abusive situation, but banning an article of clothing is most certainly not a way to do so. This is disgusting. Some people want to be able to ignore a problem they think of when seeing a particualr article of clothing regardless of the actual affectiveness.
    I am seriously disgusted that some people think taking away freedom and bodily autonomy helps anyone or that not having their sensebilities offended is reason enough to control the body of others.

  23. inyd
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    In my knowledge (in a hurry right now so haven’t checked), Australia (I know we’re not European) bans the wearing of burqas in ID photos for that reason.
    (A hijab is fine, and I have not heard of cases where women wearing burqas are barred from banks, even though motorcycle helmets must be removed. Double standard? Perhaps. It’s a tricky issue.)

  24. inyd
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    Back. Checked the facts: Australian passport photos allow religious headcovering but the face must be visible. I couldn’t find my state’s requirements for driver’s licence photos.
    This debate also re-appeared early this year and is not restricted to Western countries.

  25. inyd
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    I totally agree. The article did put quotation marks around “epidemic of pregnancy” and “defying nature” (both of which I find offensive), which seems to suggest that they were direct quotes from a more offensively-worded source. Otherwise I find the tone fairly objective.
    Louise Silverton’s quotes in the article sum up this article’s intention nicely, in my opinion.
    ‘Pregnancy complications can be more common in older women. [...] Despite this, we support a woman’s decision to chose when to embark upon a pregnancy. [...] The key issue is that they should receive sound information about the risks of giving birth later in life.’
    Would we ask doctors to withhold information on the possible side effects of the contraceptive pill on the grounds that it could discourage women from taking them? Of course not!

  26. inyd
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    If the burqa were banned in public and I were an oppressive father/husband, here’s what I’d think: “This country hates Muslims. See, they don’t even let women go out.” Most likely I wouldn’t say gee perhaps I should lower my “standards” and let my daughter/wife wear a hijab instead. If a person believes that a good Muslim woman should wear a burqa, and anything less would be a gross violation of his religion, then he won’t change his mind just because a Western (=”evil”) government said so.

  27. wax_ghost
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    You also forgot Juneteenth.
    Which, to be fair, I did too. But I thought I should mention it.

  28. ghostorchid
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 2:22 am | Permalink

    I’d like to call your comments out for being fucked up.
    Not all middle eastern women – even living in the West – are still not severely oppressed in the home and afraid of their husbands of fathers.
    Then why don’t we just ban marriage between Muslims? Or prevent Muslim fathers from seeing their daughters? Wouldn’t that get right to the root of the issue? You know, those horrible horrible backward Muslims?
    Domestic abuse and oppression is a serious fucking issue; banning the burqa will solve it just like banning high heels will cure Western domestic abuse. This unrelenting, unilateral focus on clothing as the primary gender issue facing Muslim women does a grave discredit to the diversity and complexity of their struggles.
    It is meant to be nothing but a marker of their virtue and, therefore, their worth.
    While we’re at it, let’s ban corsets, white wedding dresses, nun habits, and any women’s clothes that indirectly or directly promulgate the valuation of their sexuality – you know, all of them. Let’s create a feminist police force and patrol the streets, forcing women who wear clothes we disapprove of to slap on a “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” t-shirt and bootcut jeans. Can you really not see how forcing women to lose their burqas for “feminist reasons” is no different from forcing homemakers to be career women for “feminist reasons”? If you think the choice to wear a burqa is a poor one, that’s great – don’t wear one.
    Islam defines the value of women in terms of how many of them “equal” men in judicial affairs, inheritance affairs, etc. The burqa is meant to to externalize that “value”.
    Oh my gosh, I can’t believe the official spokesperson of Islam is showing up at Feministing!
    It is an oppressive piece of clothing by nature
    Like high heels – restrict your walking. Like sunglasses – restrict your sight when indoors. Like tight fitting shirts – restrict your breathing. And yet we aren’t banning those. We aren’t even considering it. Why? Because we don’t patronize white women for their clothing choices, even if we (i.e., some of us) believe they are tantamount to the manifestation or perpetuation of the patriarchy.
    those who use it to oppress women, use our “cultural sensitivities” in the West in order to perpetuate its use by claiming it is their “religious right.”
    Yes, there are going to some men who approve of the burqa in an oppressive manner and say it is their religious right (as opposed to women who choose to wear it). The burqa, like almost any other garment, is certainly not absent of loaded sociocultural, religious, and political implications. God knows it’s a difficult and problematic garment in feminism. But that’s not a good or valid reason to ban it.
    If there is a single woman living under a burqa against her will…That one woman is worth the rest of them having to take it off.
    Yeah! And if there is a single woman forced to have an abortion against her will, that one woman is worth the rest of them having abortions outlawed. And if there is a single woman forced to marry against her will, that one woman is worth the rest of them having marriage outlawed. And if there is a single woman forced to have sex against her will, that one woman is worth the rest of them having sex outlawed. God damn it, when will these PC pansies realize that THE CHANCE THAT SOMEONE’S RIGHTS COULD BE VIOLATED MEANS NO ONE SHOULD HAVE RIGHTS AT ALL?!!

  29. aniri
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 2:49 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your honesty. i am actually shocked at all the responses from women that call themselves feminists. Perhaps living in the US has blinded many to the realities of the world outside of this country.
    Sorry to be harsh, but France has its own traditions, which do not include burqas. People who are allowed to come to a country should respect those traditions. If you don’t like it, don’t come. I am an immigrant myself and love my native culture, but I also have respect for the country that welcomed me and gave me a chance at a different life.
    Don’t want to ramble. I think many Americans just don’t get it.

  30. Shy Mox
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 4:34 am | Permalink

    I guess France is different but here in Canada we are taught that we should celebrate multiculturalism. If someone comes here and has citizenship, then how are they less than a Canadian than I am? Because I was born here and grew up in one set of tradition? Their viewpoints and lifestyles do not become invalid just because they cross a border, they are still people who shouldn’t have to give up certain types of clothing just because it might upset some Christians.
    When it comes to this issue I think back to grade nine, we had to read an article by a Canadian teenager who chose to wear the hijab, and talked about her experience. I really liked that piece because she said she hated that people assumed either she was hiding an uzi under it or came from an abusive home, when the reason she wore it was because she didn’t want people to judge her by her body, she did not want to become sexualized like Western society has done to women and our fashion. She simply didn’t want anyone to see her shape because its none of anyone’s business to check out her ass or tits, she doesn’t want to wear jeans that compliment her figure or wear makeup that covered her flaws. Not much different from refusing to shave legs in that regard, and a very respectable viewpoint, and because some do have the garment pushed on them and are forced to wear them doesn’t mean no one gets to wear it, they should definitely be able to do whatever they want in regards to their fashion, or their refusal to take part in fashion.

  31. That Queer Chick
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    On a lighter note, I noticed you said the bowlers were “Chicago state champions,” so I clicked over to see whether they were champions of the Chicago city-wide or Illinois state variety. I found that they won the Michigan state championship.

  32. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Honestly, I am not really moved by this. Muslims are the newest generation immigrants to the west, and I don’t care if it is “unbanned” after a generation which will allow them to assimilate, but right now, ban it.
    I think you’d say different if the issue was genital mutilation instead of wearing the burqa – that is done for similar reasons as well. Yes, if one woman is being forced to against her will, then it is worth it to be banned.
    The domestic violence issue is another one completely, and should be dealt with like it is dealt with in any other group in the population at large.

  33. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Like I care what a chauvinist, oppressive, Muslim man thinks – especially at the expense of a woman’s right to be a human being.
    I’d also remind them that welcoming immigrants with open arms doesn’t mean accepting by force everything the culture deems “appropriate”, and hiding behind “religious rights” for Muslims shouldn’t work when the “right” is inherently oppressive anymore than Christians are able to (i.e., birth control is “evil” says the Catholic Church).

  34. ghostorchid
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I could use your advice on something, since you’re a Middle Eastern expert – if wearing a burqa denies women their right to be human, what species do they become? Squirrels? Gazelles? Are there any wildlife protections for them?
    Also, does that mean a non-human – my cat Ponzi, for example – can acquire the right to human status if he never wears a burqa? Like, could he vote?
    Lastly, when did legislation pass barring right-wingers from declaring that birth control is evil? I only ask because if it’s set in stone I have many citizen’s arrests to make.
    And I just have one final question, but it’s really important – if the burqa is banned, how much time in jail should a woman who chooses to wear one get? (Or, in lieu of jail, how much should we fine her for tragically oppressing herself?)

  35. ghostorchid
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I’m with you! I can’t stand these uppity ungrateful immigrants who think they’re entitled to freedom of religion and bodily autonomy when they practically just got here. Everyone knows you have to earn those rights! Waltzing in here saying “Oh, I wanna practice my religion as I see fit, providing it doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s rights” shows blatant disrespect to one’s nation. The next thing they’ll ask for is the right to free speech or some other bullshit like that!

    Oh wait a second, it isn’t the 1950s. Woops! My mistake!

  36. proudfeminist
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    The Backlash is in full swing. The major problem is the internet. Anti semitic sites can be censored, the same is not true for anti feminist sites. The way feminism is portrayed in the mass media you would not think it, but just try to go out on campus and tell a guy you are a feminist, then see his expression of disgust.
    More and more people are being shaped by the internet rather than the mass media. It is the internets fault that feminism has become a pfui word. If we do not control the internet, the anti feminism might spill over into the mass media and if it does and if it becomes “cool”, it could become something politicians will pander to.
    So what can be done to get a better grip on the internet ?

  37. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Then why don’t we just ban marriage between Muslims? Or prevent Muslim fathers from seeing their daughters? Wouldn’t that get right to the root of the issue? You know, those horrible horrible backward Muslims?
    They’re not backwards and horrible. Forced marriage does indeed exist as well. But this isn’t limited to Muslim groups.
    Domestic abuse and oppression is a serious fucking issue; banning the burqa will solve it just like banning high heels will cure Western domestic abuse. This unrelenting, unilateral focus on clothing as the primary gender issue facing Muslim women does a grave discredit to the diversity and complexity of their struggles.
    No one will kill me if I refuse to wear high heels, and it doesn’t make me hide my “shameful” body because I am worth less than a male.
    While we’re at it, let’s ban corsets, white wedding dresses, nun habits, and any women’s clothes that indirectly or directly promulgate the valuation of their sexuality – you know, all of them. Let’s create a feminist police force and patrol the streets, forcing women who wear clothes we disapprove of to slap on a “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” t-shirt and bootcut jeans. Can you really not see how forcing women to lose their burqas for “feminist reasons” is no different from forcing homemakers to be career women for “feminist reasons”? If you think the choice to wear a burqa is a poor one, that’s great – don’t wear one.
    The whole point is that some women do not have the choice, whereas, for every other “example” you gave, women DO have a choice, and no one is threatening to kill me if I refuse to wear a corset or a nun’s habit.
    Oh my gosh, I can’t believe the official spokesperson of Islam is showing up at Feministing!
    Well I’m not the official spokesperson but I assume since I am from the region and have learned about it my entire life, I likely know more than you.
    Like high heels – restrict your walking. Like sunglasses – restrict your sight when indoors. Like tight fitting shirts – restrict your breathing. And yet we aren’t banning those. We aren’t even considering it. Why? Because we don’t patronize white women for their clothing choices, even if we (i.e., some of us) believe they are tantamount to the manifestation or perpetuation of the patriarchy.
    Don’t turn this into a race issue, especially since there are white Muslims as well. Again, no one will threaten to kill me if I refuse to wear high heels or call me a “whore” if I DON’T wear high heels or be allowed out of the house UNLESS I wear high heels.
    Yes, there are going to some men who approve of the burqa in an oppressive manner and say it is their religious right (as opposed to women who choose to wear it). The burqa, like almost any other garment, is certainly not absent of loaded sociocultural, religious, and political implications. God knows it’s a difficult and problematic garment in feminism. But that’s not a good or valid reason to ban it.
    Spend a day walking with one on, let me know how you feel afterwards.
    Yeah! And if there is a single woman forced to have an abortion against her will, that one woman is worth the rest of them having abortions outlawed. And if there is a single woman forced to marry against her will, that one woman is worth the rest of them having marriage outlawed. And if there is a single woman forced to have sex against her will, that one woman is worth the rest of them having sex outlawed. God damn it, when will these PC pansies realize that THE CHANCE THAT SOMEONE’S RIGHTS COULD BE VIOLATED MEANS NO ONE SHOULD HAVE RIGHTS AT ALL?!!
    Straw man argument. First of all, the issue of “forcing” any other human being to do anything against their will is a human rights violation, forcing an abortion (like they used to do in China) or forced to wear a burqa is no different.
    But this is not a black and white issue, you cannot compare it so smoothly to another thing like abortion: a burqa is deemed necessary for Muslim women because women, by definition, to those who enforce it, are “sinful” and “dirty.” have you ever asked a Muslim man who agrees with its use WHY women wear it? They will tell you it is because women are “so beautiful, they tempt men, and men are so much weaker than women that you must cover yourselves to keep us from being tempted.” How’s that for sugar-coating the idea that women are the cause of men’s lust which, rather than having them control it, women should just cover themselves?
    This is the ultimate reason behind the Burqa, even the idea of “female humility” before “Allah” leads back to that idea: that we have something inherently in us that we need to be “humble” about, specifically, our entire bodies from head to toe, including our faces. It is oppression hiding behind a veil of religiosity (no pun intended), and since it is FORCED upon women (who may not even admit it to you for fear of their lives), then it should be removed from everyone. One cannot simply escape poverty and oppression from their home countries and then come to the west to continue to oppress half their population under OUR watch – it is a disservice to those women, regardless of your feigned “cultural sensitivities”.
    It is also meant to differentiate Muslim women from other women – and if a Muslim man sees you, without a burqa, walking down the street alone, he will leave you be. If he sees a woman in a burqa on the street walking alone, guess what – he has the “right” to harass her, beat her, even rape her, because she has the “marker” that she is Muslim and yet is walked unattended, and therefore, a whore.
    Don’t talk about things you don’t know about.

  38. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    At what point do you step into “multiculturalism” and say “enough”? What if in their culture it is alright for an 8 year old girl to marry a 60 year old man? (which by the way, it is)? What if genital mutilation is a right of passage? (which in some countries, it is)? What if a man can marry 4 women at a time? (which by the way, it is?)
    Don’t let “multiculturalism” turn basic human rights into elitist ideas that only belong to “some” people and not to others.

  39. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Turkey, a Muslim country, had a BAN ON BURQAS until this new administration, and the MUSLIM TURKISH public is OUTRAGED because they have already figured out how oppressive it is to women.
    Ironic, right?

  40. ghostorchid
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Muslims are the newest generation immigrants to the west, and I don’t care if it is “unbanned” after a generation which will allow them to assimilate, but right now, ban it.
    I really don’t understand what the hell you are saying.
    I think you’d say different if the issue was genital mutilation instead of wearing the burqa – that is done for similar reasons as well.
    Wearing a burqa and having genital surgery are not equivalent. Try wearing a burqa for a day, and then try having an FGC operation, and report back to me on whether you note any crucial differences. Similarity of motive isn’t enough to draw a parallel here. One could make the same argument – that a Christian teen, let’s say, wearing a ring that says “True Love Waits” is equivalent to a female getting FGC. But that’s a stupid argument. It’s not the same thing at all.
    Incidentally, banning FGC doesn’t ensure that it stops – on the contrary, it just ensures it goes underground, without the supervision of doctors and a sterile environment. If you want to stop FGC, the most effective method is education. That said, past the age of 18, any adult woman can get FGC – or any other form of cosmetic surgery, really. We might not approve, but that’s the unfortunate result of granting women bodily autonomy…sometimes they may not do things we like. They might wear a burqa. They might get genital surgery. They might wear high heels. Who knows! But it’s their right.
    Yes, if one woman is being forced to against her will, then it is worth it to be banned.
    Like how if my partner forces me to read your comments, your comments should be banned from Feministing? I could cope with that.
    If you want to prevent women from being forced to do things they don’t want to, the solution is not (shockingly!) to force them not to do those things. The solution is to legislate against force. Not for it.

  41. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Well, if you’re a man, and not related to her, and any of her friends or relatives see you talking to her, you’ve just signed her death warrant.

  42. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Mentalities like yours are a great way for oppression to exist behind cultural relativism.

  43. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I understand the reasoning behind wanting the Burqa to be a “choice” for women to wear because banning it leads to a “slippery slope” of state censorship on things like dress. Up until the latest Turkish administration, the Burqa (and even hijab) was banned by the Turkish government (a Muslim country, of course), because they recognized the inherent oppressiveness and segregation and inequality it led to for women in their own society.
    This administration, elected a few years ago, campaign against the ban, citing it as “undemocratic” to “now allow” women to wear the burqa/hijab if they “freely chose to”. What happened, then, was the reversal of the ban, and the President’s wife even wear a hijab (something unheard of in Turkey for nearly the last century of its official existence).
    And now, some women are being forced back under it, since the law allows, and they have little say. Keep in mind – for the last 90 years, there were no problems with women leaving the home, working, studying, wearing what they liked: the government has given renewed reason for men to push women back into second class citizenry.
    In the UK, they have recently allowed sharia law to exist for Muslims – a parallel “justice system” for Muslims only in issues of marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc. If anyone knows ANYTHING about sharia law, then you would know that women have absolutely NO rights or value in these issues, and Sharia gives all power to the men, the husbands, and the fathers. They did this out of “cultural sensitivity” to the Muslim population, when in fact all it did was strip a Muslim woman’s DEMOCRATIC rights away in a supposed DEMOCRATIC country.
    Our naive “cultural sensitivities” actually bolstered women’s oppression.
    Maybe some of you can live with that. But I, for one, cannot.

  44. ghostorchid
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    No one will kill me if I refuse to wear high heels, and it doesn’t make me hide my “shameful” body because I am worth less than a male.
    First, if you think wearing a burqa paints a murder target on you, I’d assume you’d want legislation for them, not against them.
    Secondly, I don’t know what feminist paradise you live in where women’s bodies – of all races, ethnicities, and faiths – don’t get shamed and aren’t valued lower than males, but I’d sure like to move there! (My point being that these issues exist irrespective of whether the burqa is part of one’s culture or not, but we aren’t threatening to ban anyone else’s clothes.)
    The whole point is that some women do not have the choice, whereas, for every other “example” you gave, women DO have a choice
    I fundamentally disagree with your opinion that if some women do not have the choice to do something, it’s preferable to outlaw the “something” instead of the force. Analogously, many women are forced to have sex, but we understand that outlawing sex is foolish – outlawing the force applied to sex is intelligent.
    Spend a day walking with one on, let me know how you feel afterwards.
    Again, that’s not a valid reason to ban something.
    It is oppression hiding behind a veil of religiosity (no pun intended), and since it is FORCED upon women (who may not even admit it to you for fear of their lives), then it should be removed from everyone.
    See? There’s the major difference of opinion here. You do not believe women would choose to wear a burqa unless they were forced to. Additionally, you seemingly believe that banning the burqa will fix the issue of patriarchy in Muslim cultures. I disagree on both counts.
    it is a disservice to those women, regardless of your feigned “cultural sensitivities”.
    This isn’t about “cultural sensitivity”. It’s about legislating what women are allowed to wear: I’m against that.
    If he sees a woman in a burqa on the street walking alone, guess what – he has the “right” to harass her, beat her, even rape her, because she has the “marker” that she is Muslim and yet is walked unattended, and therefore, a whore.
    Have you considered that such a man’s attitudes toward women might need more renovation than her wardrobe? It’s like banning miniskirts because many men believe that a woman wearing one is “asking” to be raped, or banning any modest clothing because some men require their wives to wear it. You write as though the burqa is the source of oppression. What marvelous outcome would you expect if it were banned?

  45. ghostorchid
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I know what you think – you think I’m saying “Hey, if it’s someone’s culture, it gets carte blanche!” and I’m not. I don’t believe in cultural relativism; I believe that every culture has its own unique ways of fucking over its own, and we should curb that tendency as much as possible.
    I do not, however, believe that legislating against the burqa will accomplish that.
    I understand that you have a kneejerk reaction when you think someone is excusing human rights violations with that post-modern relativist “I’m okay, you’re okay, can’t we all be brothers” crap, but do me a favour and don’t project that shit onto me.

  46. Katwomandu
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Ghostorchid, is it possible to have a more civilized conversation without attacking someone who disagrees with you?

  47. ghostorchid
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    First, I disagree that my comments constitute an “attack”.
    Secondly, I disagree with the implicit suggestion that a comment that, for example, phrases its racist implications in a “nice” way counts as “civil” while a comment calling out that racism in a “mean” way is “uncivil”. There is more to civility than tone.
    Thirdly, while it is “possible” for me to be more “civil”, I have absolutely no obligation or inclination to do so. I do not place a higher value judgment on “playing nice”. I am not concerned about whether my tone is palatable or not. In short, I see no reason to have a “more civilized conversation”, but I’m open to persuasion.

  48. B. Atoureta
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    You rant about things you know about. And rant angrily.

  49. ghostorchid
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I am going to assume there’s supposed to be a “don’t” in front of that “know”, right?
    I see nothing problematic about ranting, nor anger.

  50. Katwomandu
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    You see nothing problematic about anger?? On a website that’s supposed to promote understanding issues that affect all women? Aren’t we supposed to be working together here?

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