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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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61 Responses

  1. Personal Failure
    Personal Failure January 26, 2010 at 2:41 pm |

    So ridiculous. Women should have as might right to choose a head scarf as to choose a miniskirt. Beyond that, is anyone ignorant of the fact that persecuting the religious simply makes them more religious? France will do nothing more than achieve a strengthening of the community they are attempting to destroy.

  2. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub January 26, 2010 at 2:59 pm |

    Now France is at it again, trying to ban the wearing in public of any item of clothing that covers your face.

    So Halloween, Mardi-Gras/Carnival celebrations, and costume parties are out then, due to the masks? I mean, dayum, they’re required for Mardi Gras. Bummer.

  3. Sid
    Sid January 26, 2010 at 3:44 pm |

    Where was the photo taken?

  4. Natalia
    Natalia January 26, 2010 at 3:58 pm |

    I always knew you hated America, Jill, but now I am confused. Should I laud you for destroying the “cheese-swilling surrender-monkeys”? Should I curse you for throwing your lot in with terrorist evil-doers? This is a serious dilemma.

    Don’t have anything new to say on this situation, really. Except that this entire thing will mostly likely just backfire.

  5. Wen Scott
    Wen Scott January 26, 2010 at 4:41 pm |

    If this law passes, guess they’ll have to arrest everybody who wears a scarf over their faces during winter! That seems fair…

  6. prairielily
    prairielily January 26, 2010 at 5:03 pm |

    Ok, I’m going to comment now, before the thread descends into the usual mess that Islam-related threads on Feministe always devolve into…

    Thanks for writing this, Jill. It’s a shame that it needs to be said, but it does.

  7. UnFit
    UnFit January 26, 2010 at 5:31 pm |

    Nrgh, this stupid, superficial debate is going on all over Europe.

    I’m not a fan of *any* organized religion, but this is not helping anyone at all.

    Critical voices keep pointing out over and over that this is not about liberating women, it’s about putting the white, (semi-)Christian majority at ease. And of course we can all still feel like good liberals, because we’re *helping* these women, if they want it or not.
    Stupid.

  8. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig January 26, 2010 at 6:37 pm |

    WenScott: I live in an area with a lot of Somalia immigrants and a really cold winter. It occurs to me that some Islamic women might want to bundle up in a burqa or a niqab for the winter months. France is a lot warmer, I’ll admit, but would people who are accustomed to +100 temperatures think that too?
    Personally, I think this law is going to fail hard sooner or later.

  9. micheyd
    micheyd January 26, 2010 at 7:08 pm |

    Totally agreed. I’ll be having some fun conversations over this in the next few days, sigh.

  10. AF
    AF January 26, 2010 at 7:33 pm |

    The niqab and burqa aren’t fashion statements and you are either being deliberately naive or sticking your head in the sand over an uncomfortable issue for feminists. French feminists SUPPORT the ban. Or is it only American feminists with no cursory clue what the issue even is in France (or likely more widely in Iran, Afghanistan and other places where it remains a symbol of women’s oppression), who get to make this case and present it as something it is NOT.

    The burqa and niqab are used by patriarchal families to enforce the status quo about women’s position in society, to cover up bruises and beatings and to ensure the slavery continues. Only fundamentalists choose to wear the full veil and fundamentalists do NOT seek to view women as equals. French society is founded on equality and secularism and it wishes to maintain that status quo for women. Wearing a head veil to demonstrate your faith in a secular democratic society? OK. Masking yourself from society and presenting an unequal patriarachal and misogynous view of women’s sexuality by masking it in the same way that many women in Islamic countries have no choice in? Not OK. The only women supporting this kind of oppression in Iran are the female morality police who beat up feminists demonstrating in the street in Tehran and imprison them for opposing it. While the burqa and niqab remain a potent symbol of overt female repression in most Islamic countries it is NOT OK to import that into the West as some kind of fashion statement, shrug our shoulders and bleat on about ‘choice’.

  11. AF
    AF January 26, 2010 at 7:45 pm |

    “a larger number of women staying inside. That’s not exactly a great gain for women’s rights”

    Have more faith in women.

    And this is what I mean about sticking your head in the sand. You seem to think that a ban is somehow worse than an a sweeping endorsement which is what we are left with if this awful tent prison remains the status quo.

    Here is the wonderful and powerful feminist blog Ni Putes Ni Soumises protesting the fact that French socialists did not unequivocally support the ban. Thank God there are some proper feminists who UNEQUIVOCALLY value women’s identity, left in this weird ridiculous “post feminist” world.

    http://www.niputesnisoumises.com/

  12. Angelasmith
    Angelasmith January 26, 2010 at 11:27 pm |

    Well stated AF.

  13. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig January 27, 2010 at 1:01 am |

    Ah yes, let the fail begin..
    A.F: I don’t think anyone was endorsing the burqa or niqab. It’s just, some women do choose to wear those outfits- because of their beliefs, because of the weather or what have you. And if they aren’t wearing them out of choice, should they be denied access to the outside world?

  14. leila
    leila January 27, 2010 at 2:54 am |

    I too think this is destined to fail in the long run and possibly in the short run as well. Ignoring what men want or don’t, man women like the burqa. Not all women want freedom and feminism merican style. I have met lots and lots of Muslim women and most of them are quite happy in their lives. They prefer that their men handle things outside the home and they handle things inside. If that’s what they actually want who are ou to go around trying to incite them to change. Its not like women are all happy in the West. In fact, frommy expreiences I would suspect an average woman in the Islamic Middle East is happier than the average woman in US or Europe. They get to stay safe, not have to deal with the rough and tumble world outside and they like it that way. When circumstances force them to deal with the outside world, such as death of the breadwinner or long illness they usually try to get by with minimum interaction and if possible, get another male guardian to handle those things that require dealing with the outside world. I think the ‘one size fits all’ feminism needs to go and people need to accept that many women are happier in traditional, seemingly patriarchal, societies and prefer it that way.

  15. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac January 27, 2010 at 5:25 am |

    As an atheist I think all religions are absurd.
    As a feminist I profoundly object to the concept (not explicitly supported in the Qu’ran) that women’s bodies are sexy and dangerous and ought to be covered up from all eyes except their husbands. (Also I reject the Islamophobia implicit in blaming Muslims for what’s a fairly common idea in Christian culture, too.)
    As a white European I’m made uncomfortable by not being able to see a person’s face when we’re talking if they can see mine.
    As a polite person, I will try not to impose my discomfort on other people.
    As a feminist and anti-racist, I strongly oppose any idea that women ought to be harassed by individuals or by the state because of what they’re wearing.
    The idea that you can be feminist and support women being not allowed out of the house if they’re not wearing government-approved clothing – something Iran and France now have in common! – is as absurd as the idea as you can be a feminist and oppose a woman’s right to choose.

  16. Ellie d'Yckgirl
    Ellie d'Yckgirl January 27, 2010 at 5:31 am |

    “French feminists SUPPORT the ban.”

    “Ni putes, ni soumises” support the ban, but they are the only feminist group I’ve heard so far on the subject. Maybe they are other, but it’s certainly not “french feminists” in some kind of unanimous globality.

    Personally, I’m feminist, and technically french (though I don’t feel much of the “national identity” our government tries to develop, including with such laws), and I am against this law, just as I was against the law forbiding hijab in high school, so please don’t tell me what I’m supposed to be thinking.

  17. AF
    AF January 27, 2010 at 7:29 am |

    Belief in what. Fundamentalism and patriarchy?

    How is using the choice argument helping French women living in the banlieues who live in fear of a patriarchal, fundamentalist macho gang culture?

    This is what French feminists have been lobbying about for years and now the government sits up and pays attention, in a cross party consensus, apparently Europe is engaging in a ‘superficial debate’? Seriously? The only thing that is superficial is the lack of real interest in what is at the heart of this issue in France and elsewhere in Europe and the heart of the French feminist debate.

    It concerns me the way American blogs take such a dismissive attitude and assume what happens in the US with muslims is the same as what is happening elsewhere and so the same ‘rules’ apply. Since your contribution to global feminism is enormous in what way is this attitude any different to your troops and government delivering democracy at the barrel of a gun? The debate about the niqab and burqa is intense, important and wide reaching. It has far reaching implications not only in the poor banlieues of France and the women who reside in them but in Afghanistan and Iran where curiously noone seems to care less about a debate. How is it possible that women who have no clue what it is like to live in an HLM embued with religious fundamentalism and patriarchy, where this garment is being used politically by religious leaders and macho gang leaders and forced onto women, can speak with so much high handed conviction about personal freedoms? I’ve seen friends of mine in Metz, France go from happy go lucky popular successful students in a secular society with their whole lives ahead of them reduced to covered up slaves, in one case beaten with the burqa a useful tool. The ban finally shines a spotlight on this travesty and empowers them with support. They support the ban. It should be of enormous concern that some silly kids newly don these outfits to thumb their noses at Sarkozy, while women suffer in the banlieues. And in Afghanistan. In Saudi Arabia. In Pakistan. And while the exact same all covering outfits are worn by the women morality police in Tehran as they beat their sisters into submission for showing some hair and protesting for women’s rights. What is going on? What on earth has happened to international feminism? Why are you so afraid to criticise other cultures? Why are you endorsing blatant symbols of global female oppression? It’s awful to watch, bizarre to read and a tragedy for women for whom smashing glass celings and writing about feminist issues are still a long way off.

    Thanks for allowing me to comment.

    Hafidah

  18. Stella
    Stella January 27, 2010 at 9:28 am |

    Protect women’s rights by dictating what they can and cannot wear! That makes perfect sense, thanks doods!

    I’m a slut if I don’t wear enough and I’m oppressed if I wear too much… please tell me what to do, government! I’m a stupid woman who doesn’t know how to dress herself!

    But seriously, are people thinking this is anything other than anti-immigrant legislation? The Muslim immigrants of France have been hated for a while, this is just another step in the nationalist direction.

  19. Stella
    Stella January 27, 2010 at 9:42 am |

    AF: I’m glad you know better than those stupid Muslim women about what is best for them.They have no minds of their own, clearly no one would choose to do anything that YOU see as oppressive.

    Is it an all or nothing issue with you? All women who wear the hijab and burkah are being abused? Surely some of them are but you would reject the free will of all Muslim women to wear what they choose because of it? Lets ban stripping because ALL WOMEN who strip are mentally abused! Lets ban marriage because all women who get married get beat by their husbands!

    Do you think banning the hijab will make people suddenly “see the light” and become magically unoppressed? It will most likely just feed into Islamist extremism, where strict fundamentalism will show how much you reject colonial, western oppressive laws.

  20. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub January 27, 2010 at 9:53 am |

    AF, your comments are a study in missing the fucking point. But thanks for playing.

  21. Jenn
    Jenn January 27, 2010 at 10:55 am |

    “Personally, I’m feminist, and technically french (though I don’t feel much of the “national identity” our government tries to develop, including with such laws), and I am against this law, just as I was against the law forbiding hijab in high school, so please don’t tell me what I’m supposed to be thinking.”

    Right on, Ellie. It’s striking how, in conversations on US or UK politics it’s usually ‘the Conservatives are at it again’ or ‘the Daily Mail is at it again’ or whatever – whereas any other country, it’s ‘Blimey! France is at it again! Down with you, you horrible hexagon!’ or ‘Japan is sniffing girls’ knickers again!’ I mean, destroy France? A number of those most affected by the law will be French citizens. So, yeah, we don’t all join together in a giant death-star-like entity shaped like an enormous red, white and blue statue of Marianne, and there’s no need to start re-enacting the Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic video.

  22. Natalia
    Natalia January 27, 2010 at 12:11 pm |

    Only fundamentalists choose to wear the full veil and fundamentalists do NOT seek to view women as equals.

    That’s a huge generalization. I used to regularly come into contact with women who wear the full face-veil outside, and no, they aren’t all self-hating fundamentalists and/or domestic abuse victims. Reality is always a little more complicated than political slogans, I think.

    Insisting that they are is like saying that women who wear short skirts all do it because they’re (we’re – I’m a fan of the short skirt) silly, attention-seeking “sluts.”

  23. cacophonies
    cacophonies January 27, 2010 at 12:31 pm |

    That’s a huge generalization. I used to regularly come into contact with women who wear the full face-veil outside, and no, they aren’t all self-hating fundamentalists and/or domestic abuse victims.

    Yeah, it’s a huge generalization, but one that many feminists who oppose this kind of ban constantly reinforce. “Muslim women will just not be allowed outside the home anymore if this happens!!” Whether by their controlling, abusive Muslim husbands, or their own fear because they believe that they have to wear it because of some religious laws. So yeah. Using anti-Muslim rhetoric and perpetuating the stereotype of misogynist Muslim men to oppose anti-Muslim legislation is kind of counter-productive. But whatever, I guess?

  24. leila
    leila January 27, 2010 at 12:57 pm |

    I think people should understand that feminism as practiced by white French feminists isn’t the only kind. There is something called Islamic feminism as well. Where women can be women as Quran allows and not having to compete with men. Men do not try to do things that women do, there is no reason for women to try to do things that they do. Islam specifies that both men and women cover themselves appropriately, albeit appropriately is defined differently for both genders as it should be.

  25. Natalia
    Natalia January 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm |

    “Muslim women will just not be allowed outside the home anymore if this happens!!”

    Well, I don’t think anyone here is claiming that “Muslim women” on the whole won’t be allowed out. But when the argument is – “the face-veil is used to cover up bruises,” the logical extension of that will be – a woman who is already in an abusive environment will probably not benefit from this law. Maybe her movement will indeed be restricted. Maybe her family will decide to ship her off somewhere. Who knows?

    And sure, I know, for example, one dude, a Canadian, who fully intends to restrict his future wife’s movement. Thinks that women shouldn’t leave the house at all, if they can help it. I go, “um, so that Vitamin D deficiency your future spouse will suffer, that’s cool, I guess?” He goes, “it will be a sacrifice for her faith!” Charming fella.

    But that’s just anecdote, once again. The problem of sweeping generalizations is the problem of such legislation. There is never a simple answer. People forget.

  26. Kathleen
    Kathleen January 27, 2010 at 3:45 pm |

    AF — I think “international feminism” is actually pretty clued-in about this stuff, and what they recognize is that state legislation about what women must or must not wear is inherently anti-feminist.

    There is just no way that *more* attention to judging what women wear and whether it is morally groovy or morally ungroovy is a move in the right direction. The point is not whether burkas are sexist (yes) or those ridiculous ankle-breaking fetish heels worn by all Hollywood stars are sexist (yes), the point is that you don’t combat that kind of sexism by piling on more rules about what women can and cannot, ought and ought not, wear in public.

  27. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub January 27, 2010 at 4:13 pm |

    This makes me think of ways society shames women who don’t conform to “new” norms. Instead of working to eradicate attitudes that oppress women, society blames and shames women, and makes the choices and behaviors of women the focus of laws, strictures, and public attention.

    I agree that the idea that women should cover up is ridiculous, and that specific roles for women and men are stifling (and wrong). I could probably debate someone all day about it, but when it comes to how someone wants to dress themselves or live their private lives? It’s none of my business or the business of lawmakers. It only becomes my business if they try to impose those values and rules on me. But that’s not what’s happening in France (and other places in the West): it’s the larger society trying to impose its values upon Muslims.

    The saying “Your right to swing your hand ends an inch in front of where my nose begins” applies here.

  28. beka
    beka January 27, 2010 at 8:56 pm |

    http://barnyardchorus.blogspot.com/2010/01/this-does-not-help.html

    Argument made simple:
    1. Not all women who veil are forced to. Some want to.
    2. If a woman is forced to veil, then banning the veil will simply restrict her freedom to move around outside the house. COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE.
    3. If a woman chooses to veil (yes, it happens – women can, shockgasp, make choices!), then banning the veil is an assault on her right to decide how she wants to act.
    4. Not every woman who chooses to veil does so because she is seeking to uphold patriarchy, y’know. Or cause the downfall of women’s rights everywhere. Or whatever.

    [P.S.: I think this is my first comment since the site revamp. LOVING IT. :D]

  29. The Chemist
    The Chemist January 27, 2010 at 10:29 pm |

    I’m surprised there was only half-a-handful of mealy-mouthed half-wits here who don’t understand that women are people too and adults get to decide how they dress every morning. Normally there are more people too cowardly to say that they pretty much fucking hate brown people while simultaneously extolling the virtues of yet another law, act, provision, or regulation that makes it more difficult for people to express themselves freely- all ostensibly in the name of those poor fearful little brown women (whom they pretty much still fucking hate).

    You want to know something else I fucking hate? That when I went to the Middle East for vacation- the religious channels and the Fridays sermons were all emphasizing the niqab and the hijab with a fervor I hadn’t seen before. Why? Because a bunch of stupid (predominantly white male) fucking Europeans wanted to make this issue #1, and so where it was once at the very back of the public consciousness- we now get orthodox backlash. For what? To once again tell women what they can or cannot wear. Brilliant- take us right back to square-fucking-one just to stir up a shit-storm that ignites what was a dormant issue. Meanwhile, what people pull over their bodies remains absolutely incidental to all of the things that are actual, deeper, problems.

    I’m sorry, but I’ve had it with this idea that says assholes like Bill Maher (trying to get a laugh by parading actors out on stage in burkas for a mock “beauty pageant”) are actually trying to empower women by making choices for them. I have zero respect for anyone who tries- regardless whether they identify as “feminists” or not, their race, their creed, their religion, or their motivations. They’re all short-sighted scumbags.

  30. Stephen Voss
    Stephen Voss January 28, 2010 at 3:39 am |

    Before the French Revolution, the religious power structure told ordinary people how to live; religious people applauded. Now the secular power structure tells ordinary people how to live; secular people applaud.

    The fundamentalist father tells his wife how she must dress; fundamentalist women applaud. The French government tells her how she must dress; French feminists applaud.

    Muslim women often wear religious garb to please Muslim men, but sometimes to please themselves. Other women wear the latest fashions to please other men, but sometimes to please themselves.

    The public was once offended by skimpy swimsuits; women had to take care not to offend. Now the public is offended by Muslim garb; women still have to take care.

    In 1849 Jean-Baptiste Karr reminded the French of something they could have seen for themselves: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

    One thing that doesn’t change is the conviction of those in power that they have a perfect right to tell ordinary people, and ordinary women in particular, how to live their lives. Nicolas Sarkozy is only following tradition.

    It doesn’t make any difference who holds the power – the Roman Catholic hierarchy, the family patriarch, the French secular state, the French feminist establishment.

    But Shakespeare’s Henry IV has unwelcome news for the powerful: “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.”

    For one more thing that doesn’t change is the determination of ordinary people to live their own lives. We saw it in the Revolution and we shall see it again. There comes a time when a people rises up and says No – and sweeps away all that stands in its path.

  31. Caitlin
    Caitlin January 28, 2010 at 4:19 am |

    This reminds me of the “Law of Sarkozy” passed in 2003 in Paris that made it easier to arrest sex workers, homeless, “wayward youth,” etc. just for standing around and looking the part. Part of this law included regulation against skimpy clothing in public.

    France is not alone, of course. None of these laws against the byproducts of oppression will do anything for women but make them less safe and push the problems outside of the metropolitan center.

    Only non-punitive action will help break the cycle.

  32. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac January 28, 2010 at 7:29 am |

    AF, there’s been quite a pile-on in the comments. Rather than getting into a big distracting argument about whether women ever choose to wear the burqa or the niqab, and what “choice” means, and (falsely) accusing so many people here of endorsing the burqa, can you respond to the nub of it:

    Is it ever right for the government/the courts to enforce laws dictating how much of a woman’s body she’s allowed to cover and what kind of clothing she’s allowed to wear in public?

  33. Alex Catgirl
    Alex Catgirl January 28, 2010 at 11:01 am |

    Feminism domain is equality of the sexes. Are male Muslims required to parade around in ethnic garb? No? Then the burqa/hajib/veil requirements are inherently sexist and feminists should oppose them.

    Secondly, from a feminist perspective ,by advocating tolerance/acceptance of a foreign culture you are promoting one group of women (Muslims in this case) at the expense of another group of women (native French/Gaulish women).

    I just don’t see how you could ever justify picking a side as feminism. That’s humanism, which is all about failure/other/the marginalized, and bringing me down so we can be equal. I’m a feminist, not a humanist, they are not equivalent.

    1. Cara
      Cara January 28, 2010 at 11:05 am |

      “Ethnic garb”? Ethnic garb? What does that even mean?

      Actually, you know what? Particularly based on the rest of your comment, please just don’t answer that.

  34. Kathleen
    Kathleen January 28, 2010 at 11:43 am |

    Alex Catgirl — there is *no* *neutral* *clothing* *choice* *for* *women* *anywhere*. Why do you think Us magazine, in every issuse, features “who wore it better?” showdowns always between celebrity *women*? How much ink is spilled every time a celebrity woman appears in garb that is marked as age-inappropriate in some direction (Madonna! what, does she think she’s 25? Miley Cyrus! What, does she think she’s 25? ) or body-inappropriate in some direction (Jessica Simpson! Doesn’t she know she is FAT FAT FAT????? Keira Knightley! Doesn’t she know she is BONY BONY BONY????)

    Ad effing nauseum. Try something baggy and neutral instead — ha! How is life ALONE WITH YOUR NINE CATS and your hobby of CRYING YOURSELF TO SLEEP?

    Do you think Islamic culture is the only one with bonkers disciplinary standards for female garb and freaky hang-ups about the always-deplorable public appearance of female bodies? For reals?

    Women cannot win by playing by these rules — and burka legislation is one more bit of the same damn global pile-on. Of course feminists should oppose it.

  35. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac January 28, 2010 at 11:43 am |

    Feminism domain is equality of the sexes.

    Are male Americans required to parade around in Giuseppe Zanotti Snow Leopard treggings and booties? No? Then the skin-tight lycra/spandex with four-inch heel requirements are inherently sexist and feminists should oppose them.

    Secondly, from a feminist perspective, by advocating tolerance/acceptance of a foreign culture (those treggings and foot-killing shoes are Italian) you are promoting one group of women (those who wear high heels and treggings) at the expense of another group of women (those who don’t).

    I just don’t see how you could ever justify picking a side as feminism. That’s fashionistaism, which is all about failure/other/the marginalized, and bringing down women based on their body shape and personal appearance.

    stuff white people do: wish they were “ethnic”

  36. P.T. Smith
    P.T. Smith January 28, 2010 at 12:12 pm |

    Alex,

    Disregarding everything else you said because everybody above me already addressed it, this is an incredibly stupid and really depressing thing to read:

    “I just don’t see how you could ever justify picking a side as feminism. That’s humanism, which is all about failure/other/the marginalized, and bringing me down so we can be equal. I’m a feminist, not a humanist, they are not equivalent.”

    That is a wholly incoherent understanding of humanism and I’m not sure where it is at all possible to come up with such an understanding. Do yourself a favor and read Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron.”

  37. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub January 28, 2010 at 2:19 pm |

    Are male Muslims required to parade around in ethnic garb?

    Um, actually, they are required to adhere to certain dress/modesty standards (not necessarily “ethnic garb”–a female Muslim coworker of mine rocked snazzy hats instead of headscarves, but that was due to the blowback she got for wearing a headscarf). Now, many men do not follow them, because like Western, Christian fundamentalist men there is a lot of hypocrisy and sexism about, for sure.

    But that has ZERO to do with forcing women to dress the way we think they should dress. It’s not up to you or me how an individual woman should dress.

    Secondly, from a feminist perspective ,by advocating tolerance/acceptance of a foreign culture you are promoting one group of women (Muslims in this case) at the expense of another group of women (native French/Gaulish women).

    How in Maude’s name is taking a live and let live attitude harming native French/Gaulish women? How is a woman wearing a headscarf or a veil hurting a woman who doesn’t? Additionally, shall we outlaw stilletto heels and spandex and makeup and skinny jeans and freaking Wonderbras because they are the manifestations of a culture that require women to be teh hot and sexeee 24/7? I hate all of those cultural “requirements” and think they are incredibly sexist, but I also don’t think that it’s at all okay to force women to dress differently if that’s what they want.

    I’d rather just, you know, fight those attitudes and expectations.

  38. lizzyj
    lizzyj January 28, 2010 at 3:14 pm |

    Well, I’m living in Switzerland, which culture could easily be compared with the French one, and the problems here are roughly the same, although there are more Muslims in France.
    I don’t think that the French Government is attacking the women in particular by banning the burqua, but they are attacking the visual signs of the Islam. Most of the people in Europe are Islamophobic, that’s not a secret, and they don’t want to see anything related to the Islam.
    However, banning the veil or, here, the burqua, is absolutely absurd. Ok, forcing women to wear burqua is a violence against them. But forcing them not to wear the burqua is just another violence: in one case or the other, the women don’t get the chance to chose.
    (and sorry if I made a few spelling and grammar mistakes, I’m still learning English…)

  39. lizzyj
    lizzyj January 28, 2010 at 3:19 pm |

    Ah yes, anyway, I red in the yesterday’s paper that this law failed to pass. That is, just for the moment.
    To sum up, the French group which proposed this law realised that they possibly will have problems with the European council for human rights. That doesn’t mean they will give up on the idea, though. They are keeping it all warm in their little heads…

  40. P.T. Smith
    P.T. Smith January 28, 2010 at 3:35 pm |

    lizzyj

    “(and sorry if I made a few spelling and grammar mistakes, I’m still learning English…)”

    I edit for a living. A lot of times I am edit documents written in English as a second language. If they were all as clear and correct as yours, my job would be a lot easier.

    And to the content of your post. You’re totally right, and I like getting European voices in here. However, I disagree that women in particular aren’t being attacked. I think they are, but that it is just part of a larger agenda against Islam. And it could be easily seen, as I think people have here, as part of a larger agenda against women. I think in the latter case it is less outright, on the surface, concious, so agenda might not be the right word, but it is still there.

  41. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie January 28, 2010 at 5:05 pm |

    Anyone who thinks women have any “choice” in patriarchy is indeed living with her head in the sand. There’s no such thing.

    Requiring women to cover up their dangerous, sexually inflammatory bodies in the name of “religion” is abuse.

    Countenancing abuse while pretending to “protect” women from being “forced” to “choose” what to wear is idiotic and misses the point of patriarchy.

    1. Cara
      Cara January 28, 2010 at 5:13 pm |

      Anyone who thinks women have any “choice” in patriarchy is indeed living with her head in the sand. There’s no such thing.

      I think anyone who pretends that I’m not living in a patriarchy just because I’m wearing jeans and a tee-shirt right now has their head even deeper in the sand. Which, it would seem to me, is exactly what you’re saying, unless you’re suggesting a law to ban jeans and tee-shirts as well. In which case you would still be absurd, but at least consistent.

  42. Kathleen
    Kathleen January 28, 2010 at 7:00 pm |

    tinfoil hattie — I would agree with you that much of the discussion of “choice” here is, to put it as kindly as possible, under-thought-out.

    However, speaking just for myself, I don’t oppose the burka legislation because I have any illusions of protecting women from anything. I oppose the burka legislation because it’s one more judgmental, nosy, obsessively moralistic rule — this time with the force of the state behind it — about women’s clothing. Not women’s “choice” of clothing (here I agree with Cara — there is no neutral choice, which means, sadly, choice isn’t even relevant) but just one more damn judgement about what makes women publicly presentable; one more reminder that this is always contingent, subject to revocation, subject to public review and debate, a proper subject for angreee moralizing of all stripes, and in the final analysis a proper matter for state-sanctioned discipline and intervention.

    in other words, the anti-burka law would be a big ol’ step in the wrong direction. thank heavens it tanked.

  43. Natalia
    Natalia January 28, 2010 at 7:22 pm |

    Which, it would seem to me, is exactly what you’re saying, unless you’re suggesting a law to ban jeans and tee-shirts as well. In which case you would still be absurd, but at least consistent.

    HAHAHAHAHAHA

    I vote we ban fluffy flip-flops, first. Seriously, I do not get the point. They don’t work as winter slippers, at all.

  44. Alex Catgirl
    Alex Catgirl January 29, 2010 at 1:11 am |

    @Sheelzebub

    Now, many men do not follow them, because like Western, Christian fundamentalist men there is a lot of hypocrisy and sexism about

    Is it predominantly because of hypocrisy or is it because men are forced to assimilate into the host culture for professional reasons? Somebody has to pay the bills, and crying about the lack of cultural sensitivity is just not going to get you hired, or that promotion, people will retaliate in underhanded ways, more power to them.

    Which puts women at a disadvantage as that’s where the line was drawn – Muslims women refuse to assimilate, or are kept from assimilating by Muslim men. So the French government intervened, it doesn’t matter who’s choice it was, thou will adhere to our cultural norms…or else.

    Those women who would like to assimilate, are free to do so with the blessing of the state, as for those who want to to their native culture , well they, like their male counterparts, are free to emigrate back to their homelands where they can do so to their heart’s content, most probably on a salary that’s less than what I spend on clothes, life is all about choices.

    How in Maude’s name is taking a live and let live attitude harming native French/Gaulish women? How is a woman wearing a headscarf or a veil hurting a woman who doesn’t? Additionally, shall we outlaw stilletto heels

    That’s part of the issue, traditional Islamic garb/rags in FRANCE, the seat of Haute couture, is an afront to what it is to be French, fashion/style is up there with wine and chesses as a source of national pride/idenity.

    It would be like me walking into their precious sacred cities of Mecca or Medina and menstruating all over their holy-of-holies while extending my middle finger and giving them my best smile.

    No, take that stupidity somewhere else….Not England either, which is my permenate home…they screwed my homeland with with their backward culture as well.

    Sorry Americans, as you like to say, you are a nation of immigrants, and while you may find it shocking, most of the world does not with to follow in your footsteps.

  45. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac January 29, 2010 at 4:12 am |

    No, take that stupidity somewhere else….Not England either, which is my permenate home…they screwed my homeland with with their backward culture as well.

    *waves* Fellow Brit here… Alex, JFTR: it’s bigoted people like you who are screwing my homeland with your backward culture, not Muslims, whether fellow Brits or refugees or immigrants.

    English Defence League troll: not worth taking the time to respond to.

  46. Emma in France
    Emma in France January 29, 2010 at 5:00 am |

    I dislike the fact that Islam teaches women (and men for that matter) that they must cover up and that this has lead to garments such as the niqab and the burqa. I want to see women truly free to wear what they choose. A ban is not the way to achieve that goal.

    I’d also like to point at that just as a significant proportion of Americans did not vote for Bush in 2004, a significant proportion of the French people did not vote for Sarkozy. France is not trying to ban the burqa, Sarkozy’s right wing government is, there is a difference.

  47. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub January 29, 2010 at 8:42 am |

    Is it predominantly because of hypocrisy or is it because men are forced to assimilate into the host culture for professional reasons? Somebody has to pay the bills, and crying about the lack of cultural sensitivity is just not going to get you hired, or that promotion, people will retaliate in underhanded ways, more power to them.

    No, it’s about hypocrisy. Men who yelp and whinge on about modesty and self-respect for women often do not show this themselves, and that includes Christian fundamentalist men.

    That’s part of the issue, traditional Islamic garb/rags in FRANCE, the seat of Haute couture, is an afront to what it is to be French, fashion/style is up there with wine and chesses as a source of national pride/idenity.

    By that “logic”, I shouldn’t wear flats or go without makeup when in France. (BTW, high heels are ALSO oppressive and very bad for you physically–so I don’t think you’re actually posting in good faith here). And I invite you to mensturate all over the holy-holies of the Vatican whilst giving the finger and your best smile. Seriously–it would go over just as well.

    Otherwise, take YOUR racist stupidity and shove it right the fuck up your ass. You are no better than the Islamic fundamentalists who would force women to wear the veil–you just think that women should dress according to YOUR standards.

  48. P.T. Smith
    P.T. Smith January 29, 2010 at 9:17 am |

    “Otherwise, take YOUR racist stupidity and shove it right the fuck up your ass. ”

    Best use of fuck I’ve seen in a long while. Your response seems strong, but calm and tempered, then you get straightforward with the racist stupidity (always a good pairing), them bam, the f-bomb. Lovely.

  49. Jenn
    Jenn January 29, 2010 at 9:58 am |

    “…wow, missing the point. The “destroy France” thing was a play on conservative and anti-immigrant campaigns which argue that Muslim immigrants will destroy France/Switzerland/Denmark/ whatever country is currently passing harsh anti-immigrant laws. It was not saying that I, literally, want to destroy France. For the record, I love France and if I could live anywhere in the world it would be there. Come on now.”

    Yeah, I get the delicious witty wordplay, however you still said ‘Now France is at it again’, which is the main thing I was objecting to. I’m convinced you’d never say ‘Now America is at it again!’. Besides, the only thing you ever read about France on feminist blogs is how we’re all banning the veil or we’ve all got terrible pronouns. I just think it’s oversimplifying the matter quite a lot. I realise you know we’re not all in agreement on this, but you could be a little less lazy when picking your language – think how many demographics it would be okay to say that about, and why you think it’s fine for an entire country. It almost reads like you’re taking the piss. I don’t care how much you like going on holiday there – plenty of French people liked North Africa so much they wanted to live there, and we all know how that turned out – it’s a very complicated issue, and I don’t like to see people oversimplifying it. It’s like Dr Rational up there who knows exactly how French feminists as a block feel about the whole issue, or how maybe three or four large categories of Muslim women feel about it. People are more complicated than that. We’re not light switches. It’s amazing how you (general you, not you in particular) can detail all the complex ways you feel and think about things, but when it comes to others, or people on a different continent, you can barely separate them into different countries. It comes across as dismissive and a tad xenophobic. Also, it also seems like you can’t treat people the way you’d treat yourself until specific groups of them call you out and make you apologetic about it. In fact, you’re hardly one of the worst offenders I’ve seen around, but this article reeks of it. You realise that you’re talking about a small part of a huge issue, the aftermath of colonialism, that has caused thousands of deaths, decades of misery, and several continental wars, right?

  50. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub January 29, 2010 at 11:03 am |

    Jenn, Jill actually has called the US to task on what it’s done, but way to continue to miss the point.

    Jill said she thought the proposed ban was wrongheaded. She was not making sweeping comments about the French, though it does feel like you and certain fellow Yanks of mine have something in common–any comment or criticism is a sweeping criticism of the whole country. Don’t like “Dr. Rational” up there? Call him on it; Jill’s not his surrogate. FFS.

  51. P.T. Smith
    P.T. Smith January 29, 2010 at 11:22 am |

    Can we please stop using “you missed the point” as a legitimate defense?

    This group of bloggers spends a lot of time intelligently looking closely at what people say, how they say it, what people do, and how they do it. They are quite able to go beyond “the point” of other people’s actions and words to look at the greater implications and meanings. Why is it such an affront when the same thing is done to their own words?

    It’s not so simple to tell someone that they missed the point. Be more clear. Don’t insist your words only have one meaning, implication, and point when you understand that other people’s words don’t work that way.

  52. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub January 29, 2010 at 11:49 am |

    PT, if Jill actually said that the French all hate Muslims or that all French people backed this attempted ban, I’d agree with you. But she didn’t say this. Jenn, however, accused her of saying this; of making sweeping generalizations about France, and went on and on about this. Reading Jill’s OP does not bear this out–she focuses on the law, a law that was proposed in France, a place that has proposed other similar strictures in the past. This has been an issue since at least 1989. That is why she says that “France is at it again,” because it is a recurring issue there and this is one of several attempts over the past 20+ years.

    If someone posted “The US is at it again!” in response to our continued aggression in Central Asia and the Middle East (or Gitmo or secret prisoners or torture), I wouldn’t post a hyper-defensive screed about how they’d never say this about their own country and they’re making assumptions about what we all think as Americans, that the issue was complicated and that they were oversimplifying it. I would point out to anyone who did this that they were missing the point.

  53. P.T. Smith
    P.T. Smith January 29, 2010 at 12:13 pm |

    You had to change the order of events to justify the response to Jenn. There was Jill’s original post. There was Jenn’s brief reaction to it and the problem she saw in it, the implications of interpretations that Jill may not have meant, but were there nonetheless. Then Jill told Jenn told she missed the point. That there was nothing to her interpretations and concerns.

    It was only at that point that she “went on and on” with her “hyper-defensive screed.”

    Your recent response, that details the history, the reasons behind labeling it as all of France, is a much more clear explination that the original “you missed the point,” and if that had been there from the start I doubt Jenn’s second post would have had so much energy to it. Even then it would make more sense to add that “Jenn has a point, the placing of blame wasn’t clear enough.”

  54. Jenn
    Jenn February 1, 2010 at 9:17 am |

    Actually ‘blame’ is the least important thing here, we’re dealing with a complex problem with lots of causes and complex effects. I just thought the tone of the article was a little breezy compared to the problem at hand, considered it’s being written by someone far away from the problem who just likes to go to France on holiday. It’s part of a larger problem that causes regular riots in French cities, gang rapes, and yes, most directly, girls getting excluded from schools. One of the most high profile cases of this latter problem, a few years ago, was two teenage sisters whose father was Jewish and whose mother was a non-practising Muslim. There are also lots of cases of right-wingers invoking women’s rights, integration, and republican values to justify their distaste at being around Muslim women. The policing of women’s fashion choices is really an infinitesimal part of the problem. A substantial number of these women’s parents and grandparents died in vastly underreported massacres at the hands of French authorities just decades ago – for instance, the Paris massacre of 1961, if you’d care to look it up.

    It’s very disconcerting to see such subject matter treated in the same breezy way you’d treat a sexist ladyshave advert, is all.

  55. Vlad
    Vlad February 5, 2010 at 10:20 am |

    It seems to me that people get their information about Islamic culture through the media. I live in Ottawa and we have a pretty high concentration of Muslims. Lot of Muslim women do not wear a hijab and those that do alot of them wear it by choice. Now I am not saying that there isn’t those that are influenced either by their parents or culture and back home most of the cases they would of have to wear it no matter what. The reason behind as to why they wear is more complicated like Natalia said. This headscarf business in France is just a nationalistic ploy. The truth is nationalism is growing around Europe and so is violence towards immigrants. Just a couple of years ago in Russia a little girl was beaten to death because she was brown. Sweden I believe ultra-right wing party has 40% in the parliament. They are trying to sugar coat their racism with “we are fighting for women equality”. Where in truth those same advocates of “women equality” think that if a women does not want to be a stay home mom she is a butch lesbian. It is almost impossible to push a case of sexual harassment in the workplace (Now I do not know about Europe but in Eastern Europe for sure). So my point is that even though it looks nice on the outside it might be ugly on the inside (Was trying to sound smart here so please do not judge).

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