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Apr 09 2012

Burn it

Taslima is wasting no time. “What should women do?” she asks. “They should take off their burqas and burn them.”

That’s telling them!

So is her opening observation.

My mother used to wear a burqa with a net over her face. It reminded me of the meat safes in my grandmother’s house. Meat safe’s net was made of metal, my mother’s net was made of linen. But the objective was the same: keeping the meat safe.

Thwack.

12 comments

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  1. 1
    Bernard Hurley

    Dave Allen’s take on shame is delightful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGASvVqzOa0

  2. 2
    Tom Davies

    Not the first time the meat analogy has been made http://m.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/muslim-leader-blames-women-for-sex-attacks/story-e6frg6nf-1111112419114

  3. 3
    GordonWillis

    What we need is an International Day of the Human Face. Just as a start, you understand.

  4. 4
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Actually, Gordon, what we need is nobody telling women what to wear or what not to wear.

    As I said at Taslima’s in response to several people, it’d be nice if some secularists didn’t decide to agree with the patriarchal theists that women’s bodies are theirs to appropriate as political battlegrounds. Whether a burqa is banned or mandated, it’s women who’ll suffer.

  5. 5
    Ophelia Benson

    That’s very simplistic, MDC. Too simplistic.

  6. 6
    GordonWillis

    I can’t go along with that, Ms Daisy.
    .
    Free them, not free them, it’s all just fighting over women’s bodies and taking possession of them?
    .
    If the burqa is banned women will suffer because they’ll no longer be able to choose to wear it? I think there’s worse suffering than that, and the burqa signifies approval of it.
    .
    Of course, if you fight for women’s equality, it can always be said that you are fighting over women’s bodies. It’s fighting over their rights, after all. Just like the patriarchalists, in fact.
    .
    It would be nice if women were really in a position to choose freely, wouldn’t it? But what is freedom in the context of a thousand years of cultural pressure and brainwashing?
    .
    And it would be nice if we didn’t have to fight for women’s rights so that no secularist can be accused of trying to possess women in some way.

  7. 7
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Ophelia and Gordon, the point is that you cannot make those decisions for grown women. You can’t liberate them in spite of themselves.

    Quite frankly, if the only way some women will be permitted by male relatives to leave the house to attend school or visit the doctor or what have you is wearing a burqa, I’d rather they be able to do so than not do so.

  8. 8
    Ophelia Benson

    MDC, of course I get what the point is, but it’s still too simplistic. Unfortunately wearing a burqa doesn’t affect only the woman who wears it.

    I’m not saying there’s no problem at all with banning burqas; I’m saying there are problems either way.

  9. 9
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Ophelia, I agree, but I’m not willing to sacrifice some women in the short term in order to save all of them in the long. And I don’t think a lot of people who agree with Taslima’s post do get that banning burqas carries that risk.

  10. 10
    Lyanna

    I agree with Ms. Daisy. I think it is a simple question if you’re talking about the law. Yes, the burqa affects other people besides the wearer. All free expression does. We still allow free expression, even of harmful ideas. There are problems either way, but the principle of free expression holds that (outside VERY limited circumstances, like shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater) the problems from banning expression are greater than the problems from allowing it.

    I guess in Europe, where there are “hate speech” laws, a burqa ban might make more sense as a ban on anti-woman hate speech. But I prefer the American take on free expression to the European take. And, in the American take, I think you’d have to allow the burqa outside of situations where you need to see faces for security purposes. We generally don’t ban hate speech in America.

  11. 11
    julian

    Ophelia, I agree, but I’m not willing to sacrifice some women in the short term in order to save all of them in the long. -Ms. Daisy Cutter

    Not to interrupt your conversation but, is there any policy we can adopt that won’t sacrifice someone for the larger share? I’m not the most well read on this topic but, we can’t honestly be going into this trying to ‘save’ (for the lack of a better word) everyone. We are going to lose people no matter what we do. The goal should always be to minimize those loses but, we have to deal with them.

    You may believe the negative impacts on Muslim women will outweigh the positives (a view point I’m sympathetic to) but we’re aiming for change across several loosely strung together groups that span millions.

  12. 12
    Ophelia Benson

    Well, America – it’s not an issue here. If it were…I think that would make a difference. It would to me anyway! If a critical mass wear it then it becomes harder and harder not to wear it, and then it becomes impossible not to.

    So I agree on the principle, but if the real-life situation were one of rapidly spreading burqa-wearing…I would be desperate to stop it.

    That’s not going to happen, but my point is, I think the principle depends on that fact. If it were a genuine threat to us in real life…I think the principle would look different. Or we would just decide oh fuck the principle. I would, anyway.

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