Monday, July 30, 2007

Islam and the burqini issue


I was tempted to post something about this when I first read about it, but I didn't. Now, however, I just watched a diavlog about it and it makes me want to get back to the issue.
The issue is the burqini. Never heard of it? It's a bathing suit that covers a woman's entire body, except for the face, hands, and feet, designed for Muslim women to wear to the beach.
So in this diavlog Jackie Shire is talking about the ambivalence she feels in reading about these things, and the conflict she feels between the idea that feminism means wearing and doing what you want, and her concern that women should not be made to feel that their bodies are something to be ashamed of, or that they need to cover up.
I say she shouldn't feel any ambivalence. The issue here isn't whether women are going to be allowed to wear what they want. The burqini, like the burqa, is about one thing: oppression of women. It is entirely of a piece with Islamic laws that say women can't drive cars, or be outside of their father's home without a male relative. As Americans we should all be feminists: we all agree, or should agree, in the equality of the sexes, and the issue here is not the outward expression of religion in public, but in whether we will support Muslim men's structure designed and operated to oppress women.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. We aren't likely to see too many women wearing these things, but we will see more and more women wearing burqas, hijabs, and other concealing, restricting, cultish clothing.
And we should think very hard about what it means.

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