Burqini


Charles Dana Gibson, American illustrator, renders “proper” beach wear for young ladies, circa 1905.

Charles Dana Gibson (~1905)

Charles Dana Gibson (~1905)

I wish Americans would look at themselves and their own history, before they talk about how benighted other cultures are. They’re not wearing niqab, but they’re wearing stockings and corsets. At the beach.

It’s hard to look at Gibson’s work and not see it for its classism as well as racism and misogyny. Women are represented as either manipulative, or frail.

Well, which is it?

"The weaker sex"

“The weaker sex”

Dissecting a 1900s MRA?

charles-dana-gibson-02

Or helpless in front of water?

Or bored to tears? You can practically hear their optic nerves straining as they roll their eyes.

"Mansplaining"

“Mansplaining” at the beach

Comments

  1. says

    kestrel@#1: racism, classism – it’s hard to untangle them. For sure no proper young lady’d show an ankle at the beach…
    And “proper” young ladies are not even tan, let alone nonwhite.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    It’s daytime now! Only a dolt, however, thinks that means it’s always been daytime. On the other hand, given that it demonstrably is daytime, it’s not unreasonable to view the people still walking round with torches claiming they can’t see things in the gloom as rather odd… “benighted”, you might call them.

    These pictures are from over 100 years ago. What’s interesting about them, to us, is how different they are from what prevails now. That’s indicative of progress. It might be instructive to compare pictures of what cultures now recommending the burqini thought acceptable 100, 200 or 600 years ago. It might be possible to draw conclusions about progress there, too.

  3. John Morales says

    sonofrojblake:

    It might be instructive to compare pictures of what cultures now recommending the burqini thought acceptable 100, 200 or 600 years ago.

    It would facilitate my contemplation were you to enumerate the set of cultures which now recommend the burkini.

    (Also, what’s this “going to the beach” thingy, with which cultures were engaged 100, 200 or 600 years ago?)

  4. Vivec says

    Has anyone demonstrated a way to tell me in a hooded wetsuit from a muslim in a DIY burkini?

    I’d hate to think that the ban was a petty, poorly-thought-through snafu that sought to limit freedom of expression without just cause or even a mechanism for sussing out offenders…

  5. sonofrojblake says

    John Morales, 4:
    You appear unwilling or unable to use Google. I don’t think I can help you.
    Also, are you really unfamiliar with the concept of visiting littoral regions for recreation and relaxation? Or are you under the impression that this activity is a modern invention?

  6. John Morales says

    sonofrojblake, righto. You imagine I appear unwilling or unable to use Google, amongst other imaginings. That I can’t dispute.

    (What is perfectly clear is that you don’t care to sustain your claim by naming even one such culture; your reticence is telling)

  7. Holms says

    Interestingly, I have read that the burkini is actually an invention of Australian muslim women, as a compromise between the usual heavy, concealing garb and the desire to go to the beach. It provided an avenue to visit and even swim at the beach without breaching their religious clothing requirements, and so opened the beach to that population.

    (A more rational option would be to abandon the religious requirement for concealment, but baby stills are still progress.)

  8. sonofrojblake says

    @Holms, 8: With reference to your final parenthetical point, I agree, but I’m curious what it is you are distilling off babies…

  9. says

    You know, you don’t have to go back 100 years.
    Last week I read an article about a girl in Kansas(?) who was made to change into a track suit for wearing inappropriate and too revealing clothing.
    There was a picture.
    She wore dark leggins with a big rose print.
    She wore a shirt that fell lightly over her butt, one of these loose things halfway between a dress and a shirt.
    She was 11 years old.

    Personally, I want anybody to be permanently banned from schools who thinks an 11 year old can be sexually provocative, no matter what she’s wearing.

    Holms
    Well, a German court decided that a muslim girl had to take part in school swimming because she can wear a burkini.
    Just for the record, it was the girl who sued. Her parents didn’t.

  10. says

    sonofrojblake@#3:
    Well, French society had women wearing a gigantic amount of stuff with corsetry and hoops and often a great big head-wad. Ottoman society had some pretty interesting womens’ wear but they were mostly closeted away. It’s hard to trust “orientalist” images, though, because they were often fantastical/eroticized (and usually the women were strangely white) …

    I have always loved Gibson’s work; it’s undeniably eroticized if not outright fetishistic.

  11. says

    Also, are you really unfamiliar with the concept of visiting littoral regions for recreation and relaxation?

    Did the Roman women at Pompeii stay in the villa and drink? I don’t recall whether lounging about on the beach was done.

  12. blf says

    I have read that the burkini is actually an invention of Australian muslim women, as a compromise between the usual heavy, concealing garb and the desire to go to the beach. It provided an avenue to visit and even swim at the beach without breaching their religious clothing requirements, and so opened the beach to that population.

    Basically correct, albeit with the caveat it was never intended only for Muslim women, according to an article by the inventor (Aheda Zanetti), I created the burkini to give women freedom, not to take it away:

    The burkini does not symbolise Islam, it symbolises leisure and happiness and fitness and health. So who is better, the Taliban or French politicians?

    When I invented the burkini in early 2004, it was to give women freedom, not to take it away. My niece wanted to play netball but it was a bit of a struggle to get her in the team — she was wearing a hijab. My sister had to fight for her daughter to play, had to debate the issue and ask, why is this girl prevented from playing netball because of her modesty?

    […]

    [The burkini] was about integration and acceptance and being equal and about not being judged. It was difficult for us at the time, the Muslim community, they had a fear of stepping out. They had fear of going to public pools and beaches and so forth, and I wanted girls to have the confidence to continue a good life. Sport is so important, and we are Australian! I wanted to do something positive — and anyone can wear this, Christian, Jewish, Hindus. It’s just a garment to suit a modest person, or someone who has skin cancer, or a new mother who doesn’t want to wear a bikini, it’s not symbolising Islam.

    […]

    [During testing] was my first time swimming in public and it was absolutely beautiful. I remember the feeling so clearly. I felt freedom, I felt empowerment, I felt like I owned the pool. I walked to the end of that pool with my shoulders back.

    Diving into water is one of the best feelings in the world. And you know what? I wear a bikini under my burkini. I’ve got the best of both worlds.

    As numerous people have pointed out, both wetsuits and nun’s habits should also be banned using the same spurious “logic” behind the burkini ban.

    (I happen to live in one of the French villages which foolishly banned the burkini. Wetsuits are common here, albeit I have no clear memory of seeing any nuns — or burkinis — on the beaches.)

  13. anat says

    blf, how did the French laws define the prohibited outfits? Was it just about length and body parts that were covered or did the law specify items with religious connotations? Because elsewhere some apologist claimed the latter (making it seem that the Muslim women could bypass the law by wearing wetsuits).

  14. Vivec says

    In either case, a perfectly secular wetsuit would get covered in the blast damage. If I spiced up my hooded wetsuit with a skirt, how would that be visibly different from a Burkini?

  15. says

    anat
    Well, since France decided that long skirts in muslim girls are religious symbols and must not be worn to school I guess the difference is “worn by a woman who looks like she could conceivably be muslim”. In short a “secular” law that specifically targets a minority religion.

    +++
    Has anybody noticed a tendency? sonofrojblake will barge into these threads, protector and lberator of women if they want it or not and then quietly disappear when his arguments are challenged…

  16. says

    springa73@#18:
    They were. There were certain things you simply did not do if you were a proper christian American man, such as go outdoors without a hat. That was, generally, a symbol of class more than anything else, though (big hats!) its origin was christian via judaism.

  17. says

    Giliell@#19:
    Are crucifixes also deprecated? Aha, I see that it’s a blanket ban. I wonder if it’s enforced evenly.

    I am unimpressed with France’s charcuterie-fisted approach to dealing with religious displays. Tsk! The cradle of the enlightenment, trying to legislate fashion!

  18. says

    Marcus Ranum
    I haven’t heard of good catholic schoolkids being stripsearched to see if there’s a little tortured Jesus in the necklace under their shirt…
    But long black skirts are something probably 50% of women have in their wardrobes, so to shame muslim girls for wearing them can only be described as bullying.

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