Banning the Burqa

I must say that the Burqa ban in France (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13031397) is one of those issues where I don’t know exactly where I stand. Many people have been online today coming out strongly for or against the ban, but if you will give me a moment, I will try (try, mind you!) and explain why I don’t think it is such a black and white issue.

Firstly, I should say that I am not a fan of Islam. But I am also not a fan of Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism or any other religion that you care to name. I am an equal opportunity atheist, I think all the religions are equally bat-shit crazy. I think that, like most religions, Islam has a habit of subjugating and discriminating against women and I think that the covering of a woman’s head and/or face is just another way that women are shamed because of their sex and removed from society by religion (again, this theme can apply to basically any religion). If it truly was not a way of controlling and subjugating women and their sexuality then please explain to me why pre-pubescent girls do not have to wear it and nor do men.

Having said that, I am not sure that outlawing the burqa in public is the best course of action. The ban is only for face coverings (eg burqa, niqab), so it will be perfectly acceptable for Islamic women to wear headscarves in the street. These women who wear only a headscarf are presumably (and in my own personal experience) more moderate in their (and their families) religious views, and thus would be expected to already enjoy more freedom to interact within society than those who wear the full face veil. So given that Muslim women will continue to wear Muslim headgear in public, what is the true effect of banning the face veil? Well, I would expect that there might be a reduction in the number of women wearing a veil in public, but this is less likely to be due to women going about without the veil and more likely to be caused by these veil-wearing women no longer being able to leave the house, for fear of facing either a government imposed fine or retribution from their families. The women who choose or are induced to wear the veil are more likely to live in a world where the Islamic beliefs and teachings are very strictly adhered to. A government edict is not, I expect, going to be enough for most of the people who live their lives in this way to suddenly choose to discard this tradition. So I suspect that roughly the same number of women will be wearing the veil, but that they will be less visible due to the ban – and therefore more isolated from the people, culture and aid services of society. It feels kind of like liberating these women from the burqa only to have them trapped in their houses. Not exactly a win.

I would love to hear other peoples comments on this issue –  I clearly do not have the answer as to the best course of action, but I think we cannot approach this as a simplistic issue that will go away because of a ban.

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35 Responses to Banning the Burqa

  1. I wrote a similar post. My feeling is that the ban is less about protecting women than it is about protecting the state. But then, France is a fiercely secular state, so I’m not particularly surprised.

    http://feminismfortories.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/burqas-and-french-brotherhood/

  2. I am a Muslim woman and do not practice religion at all. So, on virtue of being born into a Muslim family, I am one too. Hope, the two cents I give below comes across as objective, and not a rant / defensive response.

    1) Islam as a religion does not subjugate women or encourage subjugation. The Quran does not talk about burqa at all! It says that both men and women have to be dressed modestly, cover their vital parts. When non-related men and women interact with each other (other than your husband, father or brother), ensure that you maintain modesty in your appearance.

    2) It’s the scholarly and theological commentaries on the Quran by theologists centuries ago that bring in the word niqab, hijab or burqa. They interpreted modesty as an imposition on women. Their bad.

    3) Please do not look to Saudi Arabia or Iran as examples of Islamic countries. They follow Sharia Laws, which are again, offshoots of theories / scholarly commentaries on the Quran.

    4) A face veil does take away individual form of expression for a woman. Because, the full body veil is enforced only on women. However, the Quran makes it clear that even a Muslim man has to dress appropriately, covered from head to foot -which you do see in Saudi Arabian men, who wear those white shifts and the headscarves. So, any form of dressing imposition is wrong. However, if one is a religious person, you can’t take away that person’s RIGHT to CHOOSE how they want to adhere to religious rules. It’s their wish.

    5) Women who don’t want to wear the veil and are forced to do so by their families, must have recourse in social service organisations and law / security. Provisions must be made for them. Please, however, don’t assume that all Muslim women hate wearing the over all garment and are subjugated doormats. They certainly aren’t.

    6) In a democracy, freedom of religion and cultural expression is guaranteed in the constitution. You can’t take away that basic human right. If a ban on clothing is imposed on one group – because the government thinks it’s offensive or discriminatory – then please enforce a uniform dressing code.

    7) French values and culture have never been tangible. For that matter, social customs and cultural signifiers are just understood, never codified into laws. How would you treat an African tribal woman who wears her traditional dress and headgear in France? Would you outlaw that? What about fashionable French women who wear Gucci sunglasses and CocoChanel head scarves – are these accessories also not covering their face? Just because it’s turned into the realm of fashion, does that make it socially acceptable?

    8) Ultimately, you got to think, the women whom we are feeling pity for. We, the so called progressives, who want to represent THEM, are THEY asking for help? Do they want to be represented by US – the jeans clad, sweatshirt wearing, high heeled clones? How does our dress code signify our modernity? Does a pair of blue jeans really signify that?

    Would love to hear more view points on this for sure! Cheers!

    • Hi Nilofar,

      You make some very interesting points, thanks for commenting. Its certainly great to hear your personal experience too. I agree that as with most religions the (mostly male) interpretation and extrapolation of the theology tends to screw women over in the way that the original texts don’t always reflect. But being a godless heathen I would actually say that it doesn’t really matter what the original intention is when arguing these points as much as it matters how people are using and interpreting the religion in modern day. So while some people do great things with their religion it doesn’t mitigate the horrible things people are doing to themselves and to each other in the name of God.

      And to add to that, I want to clarify that I would never mean to say that I think all Muslim women are subjugated, but I think there are a great deal that are even in a country like France (as there will be women from other religious groups or socioeconomic groups etc that are). But no cultural, religious or other kind of group of people are a monolith so there will be many different experiences and points of view within any. I am very keen to hear more opinions!

  3. *waves* (told you I’d head right over). I understand the issues of subjugation, but in my opinion, in a Western nation like France, existing domestic violence laws are probably sufficient for protection of women who wear burqas and niqab, and if not, why not pass a law against the *forced* wearing of religious dress as a part of a domestic violence law?

    Less than 2,000 women in France wear the burqa or niqab, so this really was much ado about nothing — except to the women who now have to go out in public “naked” by force.

    http://technorati.com/politics/article/the-french-ban-on-niqab-and/

  4. Loving the comments! Thanks! Always great to hear different points of view.

  5. Hi Maureen, you were quick!
    To be honest I dont think the existing framework for domestic violence is actually sufficient in most countries, but I do think that by banning the veil we actually make it less likely that these women will seek help from such services should they need it.

    Interesting point on changing the law to address the forced wearing of religious dress – especially if it was applied to young girls who might not want to wear it but feel pressure from the family. Whatever the case though, I get the feeling that laws are not the best way to approach these issues. Giving women education, support and the opportunity to leave situations they do not want to be in sounds to me like money much better spent.

  6. Actually, I was up half the night doing that “social media pimping my blog” thing we bloggers do, so I’m lying in bed and trying (and failing) to sleep, which is why I’m quick. I don’t think laws and education are an either/or thing, I think they’re a both/and thing. Protections under law give a shelter, even if imperfect, while education tells those affected about the shelter and helps them learn how to access it. So I think perhaps we’re saying the same thing from different angles.

    • Yes I agree. I do think in this case however, the time and money spent on this particular law would have been better put to use elsewhere. Like you say, it affects a very small no of people and I think @feminismfortories is right to say its not a law that seems to be helping to protect the women it affects.

  7. I think Maureen’s comment hits the nail. Religious practices at homes are a personal / private / domestic issue. Where do you stop the government from stepping into your private life if laws keep circumnavigating around your customs, cultural expressions or if you have a particular language or ritual you follow? Education is one of the best ways to expose women to ideas, opinions and a different world view.

  8. Absolutely religion is a private matter. Completely agree with Nilofar. But, to play devil’s advocate, where does private become public? Individuals are private, but they take part and contribute to public society…

    • @FeminismforTories 🙂 That’s why we have the constitution, which clearly stipulates that everyone has the right to practice religion and have freedom to adhere to their customs. Within the house itself, until the child becomes a major (turns 18), the parents will end up dictating on what their child will wear, pray, read, schooling, etc etc. The government cannot / should not infringe on parental rights by getting ideas that will allow them to step in to mediate on religious affairs in the household.

      To diverge, in Saudi, Pakistan and Afghanistan, we know that ‘honour killings’ take place every single day! The men do it in the name of customs, not religion. Taking someone’s life or abusing them in the name of culture / custom is a violation of human rights, it’s murder. That’s when the government should step in.

      I guess, we could have a civil-government partnership in the form of a body / institution that looks into complaints or pleas for help from society and then, with the help of the police, sorts into each case. A religious tribunal…hmm… but as always, who guarantees a corruption-free, impartial polity?

  9. Reflections: In India, we have a dominant Hindu religion (not state sponsored), and several other minorities – Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, tribal cultures, foreigners who reside here, include Iranians, French, Japanese, Americans, etc. Each of us – 1.2 billion plus population – follow different dressing codes, languages (more than 60), dialects (more than 400), customs, festivals, all of which vary across every state (29) and city.

    India is also a secular, socialist, democratic republic. Can’t imagine the government supporting secularism by oppressing any religion through dictatorial laws. Can’t imagine the government telling the priests in the temple to stop their ritual chants or forcing the priests in the mosques to stop their call for prayers (which is sung loudly on the microphone five times a day).

    The world over, liberals are fighting against ideologies propagated by countries such as Saudi Arabia, where even Western women are forced to don the burqa. We have seen that with enforcement of laws, Islamic countries get away with even murder. Women are not allowed to drive, hold jobs, go to a shopping mall without her husband or father. It’s downright medieval.

    I think, France has set a really bad precedent with this law. It comes across as a knee-jerk reaction to the rising Islamic population and growing unease with extremism in this particular religion. The critical issue now is, will this ban affect the way of life for Muslim women – will they take recourse to law and have the strength to step out of the house and defy tradition?

  10. As has been indicated several times above it is a very small minority of women who wear the niqab. As an artist I am concerned very much with the visual and was interested during the “Veils Row” in the U.K. with the media images of veiled women. The images were always very static and mainly portrayed just the head with eyes staring out. Reports at the time indicated increased verbal and physical attacks on women who wore both the hijab/niqab because of the highlighting of this issue. e.g. (Jason Bennetto, Ian Herbert and Jeremy Clarke, “Attacks on Muslims Rise After Veils Row”, The Independent, 14.10.06) – My Art Exhibition – Sweet Dreams was a response to such attacks. I wanted to address the stereo-typical image being portrayed in the press and seek the individual women behind the veil. It was a very interesting year. I secured an Arts Council grant and worked with a core of 7 veiled women from all over England. It was the most enriching experience and the images are quite unique. You can check some of these out at these two links: http://bit.ly/dQOM3p http://bit.ly/dQTCUi It is my contention when women are reduced to one homogenous group such as nibab wearers it is easier to depersonalize them – offer them as scapegoats and in extreme cases this can lead to the racial attacks highlighted above.
    Regards Christine

  11. @Christine: Was able to see three photographs on veiled women. Lovely!

    Agree and understand your views on depersonalizing Muslim women. I guess that’s what xenophobia is all about. Humans tend to segregate people into clusters or groups, some of whom will be the ‘outsiders’. It soon evolves into an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ paradigm, and the ‘others’ are perceived as a threat to the insularity and security of the ‘we’.

    How do we break down basic psychological conditioning in society? How much impact can education, art or preaching have?

  12. Thank you for helpful reply – In terms of Education Nilofar I am in the process of getting both Sweet Dreams and another Exhibition What Makes Me Laugh? : http://bit.ly/hWEeyQ (which was my response to backlash against ordinary Muslims in the U.K. after 7/7), into mobile formats so I can hire them out to schools/colleges/interested community groups and organizations. Both deal with Universal concepts ie Dreams and Laughter and I hope break down stereotypical perceptions. It has been a real journey for me. I was Artist in Residence at Lancaster University Chaplaincy Centre so being on campus was able to work very closely with the Islamic Society. At the outset of working on these Exhibitions I did not know much about Muslims or Islam and was working like most people do on gut instinct and perhaps at times being persuaded by what I read in the media. The reality was immensely different. The journey was filled with love, friendship and so much fun and laughter – (and LOTS of food) – which was so different to the sinister portrayals of Muslims so prevalent. I now have life long Muslim friends and could not imagine my life without them. The idea of the “other” in society is strong and I think necessary for many politicians who practice “gesture” politics to enable them to, pardon the pun, throw a veil over the reality of their ineptitude. Global capitalism also needs such smoke-screens. I hope in some small way with my Exhibitions to let the viewer see something different which might in turn have an affect on how they think and feel about Muslims. I have witnessed this already which is heartening. Sweet dreams e.g. has 24 images of the women who participated horse-riding, playing badminton, driving, riding on a carousel fairground ride, jumping on a trampoline and also having lots of fun at the beach to name but a few. I know this is a drop in the ocean but if many more attempted small gestures it could add up to something which could change our societal psychology. I feel better for at least trying. Hoping Art is as strong as my passion for it. Best Christine x

  13. More great comments!

    I want to state plainly and clearly though, I am very much against the veiling of women. It is against everything I believe in terms of feminism and I would support helping to liberate women from the sort of oppressive society/religion that enforces the wearing of such items. However I do not think the way to do this is by banning it in public. Its great to have open dialog and I cherish all opinions given, but I want it to be absolutely clear that although I do not agree with the law, I am strongly opposed to the veiling of women as if their very bodies are something shameful to be hidden. Just wanted to get that out…

  14. I understand the strong opposition stated above from your feminist perspective – I would ask how many veiled women have you been in dialogue with. I ask this from a fairly now neutral perspective but I find that many people with strong views about the veil have not in fact spoken to any or many women who wear the veil. I understand that forced oppression of women exists and enforced veiling is of course against every tenet of feminist thinking. I am no expert within the debate of the veil but I think with Sweet Dreams I was privileged to a unique experience. I can talk about this experience of working closely for a year with 7 veiled women with some confidence and say that no oppression was involved. Three of the women were English – only Muslims within their families and of course had no cultural pressures imposed upon them. As is often quoted the Koran does not request veiling so they also had no religious pressure. Individual choice was definitely at play. I extrapolate this to the other women and interestingly none of their mother’s wore the veil.
    Sweet Dreams has been cited in a doctorate thesis by Dr Marten, V., N. (2010) Accounting for Islamophobia as a British Muslim: The centrality of the ‘extra-discursive’ in the discursive practices of Islamophobia. A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Manchester Metropolitan University, Department of Psychology, for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, 2006, pp. 309-311.
    I asked Dr Martin to offer me a quote about Sweet Dreams She states:

    “In Britain, the pejorative stereotype of the veiled woman – the mohajabeh – connotes chauvinism and oppression. The popular culture view, which is informed loosely by liberal and post-modern notions, is more well-meaning, but is as little informed about the lives of Muslim women and comes to the same conclusion – Islam is a patriarchal religion that immutably subordinates women, and veiling is a particularly oppressive consequence of this. The counter-discourse of the mohajabeh speaks of empowerment; here, women are understood as choosing to veil for political or religious reasons and their choice is wholly personal and developed after careful consideration. In Sweet Dreams, Christine Dawson takes the stereotype of the veiled woman – loaded as it is with highly charged emotions and assumptions of docility, submission, and oppression – and presents veiling as unremarkable, deeply personal, and idiosyncratic. Working with a number of young women who wear the niqab, Christine Dawson photographs them doing ordinary every day activities; she also elicits from each a short narrative comprising a self-description, one funny moment, and their ‘sweet’ dream. Thus, in the exhibition the two-dimensional photographs are given ‘life’ and a persona through the accompanying narrative.”
    Dr. Vera Martin
    Just I hope a grey area in what appears to me a very black and white debate. I continue to offer this grey area as I feel strongly that women who wear the veil can so easily be societies scapegoats. Regardless of ones views it is entirely wrong in any civilized society to do this.
    Best Christine

  15. An important point that is being made about the burqa ban is that if citizens of the world do not object to Saudi Arabia’s compulsory dress code for all women, how can you object to French ban?

    Well, to distinguish, Saudi Arabia is a theocratic country whose government is based on the Islamic code of conduct. And as per their ‘tradition’, women AND men need to cover up from head to toe. Of course, it’s a totally different narrative that the very idea of clothes should be a metaphor for morality, modesty or a symbol of a anti-Westernism.

    However, France is a secular democracy and as such cannot ‘interfere in the religious practices’ of its citizens. That’s against the constitution! We are talking about two separate issues here – civil rights violation on one hand and the age-old patriarchal traditions of society that aim to oppress women on the other hand. Let’s not have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to these issues.

  16. Solo Bear says:

    I see this burqa issue more of a feminist issue than a religious one. It is even more of a cultural practice than a religious practice. After all, it is not required of Muslims to have it on.

    What I find difficult is that many feminists who purport to fight for women’s rights to dress as they wish, immediately become weak-kneed and wobble whenever it comes to the topic of dress for Muslim women.

    France should have used a more politically correct reason if the want to ban the veil – security. To say that burqa is “oppressive” is hypocritical because when they force it off women, it is just as oppressive!

    Consider this. Which is more humiliating to a woman? Forcing her to cover up a part of her body she wishes to expose, or forcing her to reveal a part of her body she wishes to conceal?

    I feel that why feminists (actually, it is women with western ideals bcos not all women in the world share feminist ideals) are unable to handle the niqab, burka or hijab issue is due to their inability to decipher if these issues are truly about feminism, religion, individual rights to dress, or even political symbols.

    A feminist will stand by a woman who insists to dress in a miniskirt. But she sways when the woman wants to have the burka or even hijab on.

    The feminist will scream patriarchy when she sees women are forced to cover their heads in Saudi or their faces in Afghanistan. But they sway when women are forced to uncover their faces and heads in France and other parts of Europe.

    In all, I never really believe that Feminism is about the rights of women, or for that matter freeing women from the chains of patriarchy. I feel Feminism is about feminists telling women what to do.

    In other words, Feminism is simply replacing patriarchy. Feminism does not free women. It enchains women immediately with its own brand of oppression, telling women what to do, right after freeing them from patriarchy, which they claim enchains women!

    Here is an article I wrote about Feminism, pertaining to the transfer of the control of women from a patriarchal controlled society, to a feminist controlled society.

    Modern Woman’s Dilemma – which is worse, Patriarchal Domination or Feminist Oppression

    I mentioned about the hijab halfway down the article.

    Here is my full list of topics on Feminism.

    • I’m afraid I couldn’t disagree more about your opinion on Feminism. I think with regards to the face veils there are a lot of feminists that do not condone them, yet do not feel that the state has the right to ban them (including myself). But reading your comment, I am very confused as to what you actually believe. You say “…feminists…become weak-kneed and wobble whenever it comes to the topic of dress for Muslim women.” but then “France should have used a more politically correct reason if the want to ban the veil – security. ” Do you support the ban, do you oppose it? What is your opinion on women wearing the veil in general. Instead of addressing these questions, you seem to have just used this topic as an excuse to criticize feminists.

      Your opinion that I “Feminism is about feminists telling women what to do” couldn’t, in my opinion, be further from the truth. Feminism is about trying to create a world in which women have the choice to do anything they wish and not be brainwashed and pigeonholed into specific gender-based roles. To take a specific example, it is not the case that feminists think that no woman should give up work to look after children, but there should be a society where there is equal expectation that men and women will care for children and either partner may choose to or not to give up work.

      An example that you mentioned on your blog was that of ‘mail order brides’ You state: “The bride was willing and gave her consent. For feminists to say that the transaction was akin to buying cattle, feminists have in fact put forth their views above the view of the willing bride. Thus, has not feminists now taken over the place of the domineering male, expecting the bride’s view to be subordinate to their own feminist views?” To me this sounds like a very strange and confused opinion. By your logic then, people also “choose” to be in domestic abuse situations – despite the fact that their decision to stay is a very complicated one often based on fear and mental control/abuse. Ie they are influenced by their abuser and their perceived number of choices are as a consequence restricted. Have those women made informed decisions too? Of course not. Should we help them in any way possible to have a better life? Of course we should. Choice is a delicate thing, immeasurably influenced by your life experience, cultural and socioeconomic surrounds and education (et al). Because someone is given the “choice” between abject poverty and being sold to a man does not make the situation okay. Its like the choice to jump off a cliff or under a train. I wouldn’t be happy about either option, but I would still have a “choice”.

      I’m not sure what has given you such a negative opinion on feminism, it is certainly not a point of view I can relate to.

      • Solo Bear says:

        >>You say “…feminists…become weak-kneed and wobble whenever it comes to the topic of dress for Muslim women.” but then “France should have used a more politically correct reason if the want to ban the veil – security. ” Do you support the ban, do you oppose it?
        >>

        That is exactly my point. Feminists feel that their viewpoint, in this case the banning of veil, MUST be addressed.

        Has it even occurred to you that there are people in the world who don’t even see this an issue to even to be bothered with?

        I come from Singapore. Our population is diverse. We have atheists, Catholics, Christians, Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, Hindus and freethinkers. On ethnicity, the majority is Chinese but we have Malays, Indians, Eurasian, Arabs, Filipinos, South Asians etc.

        Has it ever occurred to you that the burqa ban in France is a non issue to the majority of people of my background? In fact, I did want to post this issue in my blog. But knowing that Singaporeans (80% of my readers are from Spore) see this a non-issue, I decided not top post it. Hence, I posted in your blog instead.

        To you, it is important. Fine. That is YOUR cultural background. But from where I come from, I see it as a simple issue, being blown way out of proportion.

        If France is so bent on banning the burqa, what is stopping them to cite security reasons? Why talk about Islam and whip up the sentiments of Muslims, who don’t require the Burqa to be put on in the first place?

        Isn’t it less sensitive to talk about security than religion?

        As for other points on Feminism like gender roles and what not, again, has it not occurred to you, that you are seeing it from YOUR western viewpoint?

        The Chinese, Malays, Indians and other ethnic races from SE Asia have their own practices and what the family should be. Who are these westerners to tell us what the family should be?

        I find that many feminists base their arguments on assumptions. Here is one example –

        You quoted:
        >>An example that you mentioned on your blog was that of ‘mail order brides’ You state: “The bride was willing and gave her consent. For feminists to say that the transaction was akin to buying cattle, feminists have in fact put forth their views above the view of the willing bride. Thus, has not feminists now taken over the place of the domineering male, expecting the bride’s view to be subordinate to their own feminist views?” To me this sounds like a very strange and confused opinion. By your logic then, people also “choose” to be in domestic abuse situations – despite the fact that their decision to stay is a very complicated one often based on fear and mental control/abuse.
        >>

        See that assumption? The assumption that there is fear and mental abuse. Why can’t you accept that there truly are brides who wish to be submissive?

        Is it because in YOUR culture, for a woman to be submissive, that is unacceptable?

        I can accept if you feel it is unacceptable. Question is who are you to impose that culture on others?

        >>I’m not sure what has given you such a negative opinion on feminism, it is certainly not a point of view I can relate to.
        >>

        My negative point on feminism is based on the fact that while feminists tell women not to be submissive to men, they are also telling these women to be submissive to feminist thought. Like the Viet bride case where even if she wants to be submissive, you tell her not to be. What’s so special about your “order” to her? Why can’t she exercise her right to be submissive?

        Aren’t you forcing her to follow YOUR rules in exchange for patriarchal rules?

        What’s the difference between feminism and patriarchy then?

  17. Solo Bear, you are completely missing the point of feminism. The point isn’t whether women should or shouldn’t be submissive. The point is whether or not that is the *woman’s* choice, or is forced upon her by others, including very large cultural constructs. Feminism does not tell women to be submissive to anything, but to use their own minds and make their own decisions about how to navigate the world.

    Some feminists are good Christians, good Muslims, good atheists. Some are women who raise their children and stay home with them, and some are business executives. If you’re trolling here, you’re doing a very old and boring troll — that of creating a strawman and then knocking it down in your own mind.

    As for the burqa ban in France, the *reason* for the ban was prejudice based on fear of the other (Muslims), but the *excuse* was feminism. That is why we have stepped up and said, “don’t do this in our name”.

    • Solo Bear says:

      Maureen:
      >> Feminism does not tell women to be submissive to anything, but to use their own minds and make their own decisions about how to navigate the world.
      >>

      Fine. So how do you address:

      1. A woman wants to have the veil on. It is now forced off because the law of the land. Why are feminists now so unwilling to lobby against the French govt? Why don’t feminists lobby with the same vigour they lobby against the forcing on of the veil in places like in Saudi, Iran or Afghanistan? In other words, why the double standard?

      2. If a woman wants to be the submissive bride, what is wrong with it? Why must she be profiled as someone who accepts abuse?

      >>If you’re trolling here, you’re doing a very old and boring troll — that of creating a strawman and then knocking it down in your own mind.
      >>

      Are you the admin of this site? If you are, I’l take that I am not welcomed and l’ll leave. If not, don’t undermine the admin’s authority.

      >>As for the burqa ban in France, the *reason* for the ban was prejudice based on fear of the other (Muslims), but the *excuse* was feminism. That is why we have stepped up and said, “don’t do this in our name”.
      >>

      So if it is done in another’s name, like in the name of Islam, you won’t care? Isn’t that hypocrisy? Are you saying Muslim women are less worthy of attention than feminist women?

      I did say that if France is so bent on banning it, what’s wrong with citing security? Islam won’t be put into the picture and neither would Feminism be in.

      I can’t see what the big fuss the ban is about, when the issue is such a simple one to solve.

  18. 1. The whole purpose of this post was feminists stating that they think this ban is unjust.

    2. There is nothing wrong with it if *it is her choice* and she has the full ability to control that choice. Anything less is slavery.

    3. I am not an admin, I’m simply someone pointing out to you that your argument is old and tired and dull, and that it demonstrates an incredible lack of reading comprehension.

  19. Also, regarding Muslim women and feminism, they are not mutually exclusive categories. While I stand with Muslim feminists, I do not speak for them, as they must be the arbiters of how to negotiate their own lives within their own spheres. Many Muslim women embrace veiling, and a few even embrace burqa or niqab. Many do not. The issue is choice, and it is their choice, not yours or mine.

  20. Solo Bear says:

    Maureen:
    >>The whole purpose of this post was feminists stating that they think this ban is unjust.
    >>

    You claim not to be the admin and you speak on the admin’s behalf? What’s wrong if I give an opinion too?

    >>There is nothing wrong with it if *it is her choice* and she has the full ability to control that choice. Anything less is slavery.
    >>

    I believe that in France, the headscarf is banned in schools and universities. That means that women who wish to have it on are FORCED to have it off. They have less than the ability to exercise their choice. That is less than slavery, going by your argument.

    So where are the French feminists fighting for the Muslim sisters’ rights to have their headscarves on? Why the silence?

    >>I am not an admin, I’m simply someone pointing out to you that your argument is old and tired and dull, and that it demonstrates an incredible lack of reading comprehension.
    >>

    Hmm…has it ever occurred to you when men don’t agree with feminists, they throw fits? Then they ask themselves, “Why do men equate feminism with men bashing?” Beats me!

    >>Also, regarding Muslim women and feminism, they are not mutually exclusive categories.
    >>

    While that may be true from where you come from, it definitely isn’t from where I come from. Many Muslim women in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia see Feminism as the anti-thesis of Islam. A woman’s role in Islam is spelt out clearly. Be it as a mother, a wife, a daugther, a sister and so on.

    The laws of Family and Inheritance affects you differently if you are a woman, compared to if you a man. It is different if you are wife, compared to a husband. A mother, compared to a father. A daughter, compared to a son.

    Feminism is seen as a foreign ideal that abolishes all the laws pertaining to Family and Women.

    Like I said where I come from, Feminism is seen as the anti-thesis of Islam. It contradicts Islam. It conflicts with Islam.

    >>Many Muslim women embrace veiling, and a few even embrace burqa or niqab. Many do not. The issue is choice, and it is their choice, not yours or mine.
    >>

    That is what I said – many, many times! Who is France to ban it? If France is so bent on banning it, it should cite security. No religion involved, no Feminism involved. Very clean, very clear, very uncontroversial.

    For the life of me, I will never understand why such a simple issue has to be blown way out of proportion.

  21. 1. There is nothing wrong with you giving your opinion. You have done so, and I’ve called it a load of bull. That is a “consequence” of free speech, not a deterrent.

    2. No one here is throwing a fit but you.

    3. I have stated repeatedly my opinion about the burqa ban. Logically, you could probably conclude that I feel that forced removal of the headscarf is *also* an issue. I do not speak for all feminists, nor do you speak for all men.

    4. I must state that even *one* feminist woman in Indonesia that is also Muslim negates your argument, while it does nothing to negate mine. You fail at logic, and that’s what you’re really angry about. Have a nice day.

    • Solo Bear,

      I am the admin for this site and I am always happy to hear peoples opinions. What we are trying to do here is have a open dialog about issues that we feel warrant discussion. You accuse us of only considering our western opinions however you seem to be unwilling to accept the existence or importance of anyone’s opinion but your own. Moreover you have not stopped to think for a moment where we come from. The views expressed on this blog are from a range of people with varied cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Maureen has made some excellent points here however you still seem to be banging your feminist hating drum. All opinions are welcome, but lets try and keep them as rational and coherent as possible please, no-one is throwing a fit on here, however you seem to be getting awfully close.

  22. Solo Bear says:

    Maureen, doesn’t your condescending tone only reinforce the notion that feminists tend to bash men?

    You posted:
    >>3. I have stated repeatedly my opinion about the burqa ban. Logically, you could probably conclude that I feel that forced removal of the headscarf is *also* an issue.
    >>

    I feel that the headscarf ban is a big issue, while the veil ban is not. Headscarves are required for Muslim women, whether they want to have it on or not.

    And in France, headscarves in schools are banned whether women want to have it on or not.

    That’s the “forcing against women’s choice” which Feminists talk about, be it forced on or forced off, isn’t it?

    Yet there’s so much talk about the veil, which is not required under Islam and many Muslim women don’t care – but hardly a word on the headscarf, which is mandatory and many Muslim women do care, from French feminsits?

    Am I missing something here?

    >>I must state that even *one* feminist woman in Indonesia that is also Muslim negates your argument, while it does nothing to negate mine.
    >>

    What logic is that? Are you not again trying to use your background as a benchmark to judge mine? How can your European background be used as yardstick to judge my SE Asian background?

    Are you not confirming my point that Feminists use Western values and culture to impose on other cultures?

    In case you don’t know, there are many women in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore who are feminists. One of them is Marina Mahathir, daughter of an ex-PM of Malaysia.

    However, many Muslim women don’t buy what these Muslim feminists sell – Feminism.

    To Muslims in SE Asia, Islam has been the tradition the last 400 years. It is the lifeblood. Feminism on the other hand is so foreign, so distant.

    >>You fail at logic, and that’s what you’re really angry about. Have a nice day.
    >>

    It is past midnight from where I am. I’ll drop by tomorrow morning. Good night.

  23. 1) I’m not bashing men, I’m telling you that your arguments are unconvincing and unoriginal, built from straw men and torn down by internal logic that doesn’t take into account reality.

    2) Feminism is the concept that women are people. That is interpreted differently in different cultures. Feminists do not force women to make one choice over another, though feminists, in general, feel that some choices are healthier and lead to happier, more fulfilled lives.

    When you say that “all women in Indonesia” think that feminism is anti-Islamic, it only takes one Indonesian woman who is both a Muslim and feminist to crack that. It’s called deductive logic. Look it up. When I say “some women” are “both feminist and Muslim”, I am not making any claim of universality. Therefore, your argument that many Muslim women are not feminists is beside the point.

    In a free market of ideas, the ones with the most utility for the greatest number will win out. Those who seek to stifle some ideas fear that they are better than the ideas that are currently in vogue. I have no fear of Islam. Do you have a fear of feminism?

  24. And my final comment: You seem to have a standing misunderstanding of the difference between authority and autonomy. Feminism, as a philosophy, does not seek authority over anyone. It is at its root a philosophy that encourages individuals (both female and male) to claim personal autonomy in their lives, however they define that autonomy.

    You, on the other hand, seem to have an authoritarian viewpoint that you, or Islam, or some other force must have authority over a woman. You made the comment earlier that I was “denying the moderator’s authority” by stating my opinion of the strength of your argument. That statement was utterly foreign to feminism. There is no “feminist authority”. Feminism is a philosophy of (sometimes rowdy and argumentative) consensus. In fact, many feminists refer to it as “feminisms” rather than “feminism”, because feminism always lives in the context of a life and culture. The feminism of a college educated white woman in the United States like myself is very different than the feminism of a stay at home Muslim mother in Indonesia — but neither is any less a feminist than the other, so long as the core beliefs of “woman as person” and “autonomy of person” are upheld.

    When your core belief is that somehow you are superior to women and have the right to have authority over them, of course you’re threatened by feminism. And of course, here where your words have no authority over me, I am not threatened by you, though clearly a woman in your own household might be, should you seek to deny her autonomy.

    Pretty basic stuff. I have no authority over others that does not come from job position or superior knowledge in specific circumstances, nor do I seek it. You wish to, and it causes you pain. I am sorry for you. Perhaps you would be happier if you focused on your own autonomy and not on seeking power over others.

  25. Solo Bear says:

    Feminist Letters:
    >>I am the admin for this site and I am always happy to hear peoples opinions. What we are trying to do here is have a open dialog about issues that we feel warrant discussion. You accuse us of only considering our western opinions however you seem to be unwilling to accept the existence or importance of anyone’s opinion but your own.
    >>

    I have time and again said that I accept your views from where you come from. I only object when western feminists try to extend their views on cultures of others.

    >>Moreover you have not stopped to think for a moment where we come from. The views expressed on this blog are from a range of people with varied cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
    >>

    You may consider where you come from as “diverse”. You haven’t seen what diversity is really about.

    Where you come, you see Feminism (and Islam) from only two angles. Either you are for it, or against it. It appears there is no middle ground.

    Look at your burqa ban. You still can’t accept that I, a SE Asian, see that as a frivolous issue which can be settled easily if France had the brains to quote security reasons. But it just had to bring in Islam, or more specifically “oppression of women in Islam”, which automatically will drag in Feminism.

    If security had been quoted, there won’t be Islam or Feminism in the picture. It is either you are for security, or you are not for it.

    Being from a totally different culture where Islamophobia is not rampant (unlike Europe or even America), I see no need to quote “the oppression of women” in any veil ban. In case you do not know, where I come from, you are not supposed to have veils, helmets or anything that conceals your face and/or identity if you are in high security areas like banks, military areas, immigration points etc.

    No one here complains that the Muslim woman has to leave her veil at home at these places. And no Feminist complains about that either.

    Why can’t France do the same?.

    Isn’t it because of the diversity of SE Asia, that I can see this from a different angle, which you Europeans (and Americans) can’t see?

    >>Maureen has made some excellent points here however you still seem to be banging your feminist hating drum.
    >>

    All my “feminist hating drum” is done in MY BLOG. Over here, I keep repeating that what you view in Europe, doesn’t necessarily extend to the Eastern hemisphere.

    If any feminist has an issue with my “feminist hating drum” at my blog, I have no problem with them putting up their comments there.

    >> All opinions are welcome, but lets try and keep them as rational and coherent as possible please, no-one is throwing a fit on here, however you seem to be getting awfully close.
    >>

    Maureen has been throwing those insults and I am the one throwing fits here? It sure does seem true that when you disagree with feminists, they do appear to want to eat you up. It happened in my blog in Singapore, and it now appears here in a blog with European feminists.

    What’s this talk about feminists trying to project a “softer” image?

    ======

    Maureen, I’ll ignore your insults bcos that is not productive.

    >>When you say that “all women in Indonesia” think that feminism is anti-Islamic, it only takes one Indonesian woman who is both a Muslim and feminist to crack that.
    >>

    Firstly, I never said “all women in Indonesia”. Secondly, there are MANY Muslim women feminists over here, yet Feminism has still not caught on with the vast majority of Muslim women in SE Asia.

    >>In a free market of ideas, the ones with the most utility for the greatest number will win out.
    >>

    If you want numbers, Indonesia has a population of more than 200 million, of which 90% are Muslims. That’s more Muslims in SE Asia than there are Muslims in all the Arab states combined. Worldwide, Muslims make up about 1 billion. One-fifth of that comes from where I come from.

    >>I have no fear of Islam.
    >>

    Why should you? You talk as if Islam is a huge monster about to usurp France and other European nations. Why this suspicion about Islam?

    >>Do you have a fear of feminism?
    >>

    Again, why should there be any fear? You sound as if you are pitting Feminism against Islam and vice-versa.

    The fact that you can even put Feminism and Islam to compare which should be feared, in my opinion, is ludicrous. These two ideals are worlds apart, and have impacted society and the world very differently.

    Islam is one-fifth of the world’s population. Islam is what I term a “self-generating” ideology. When a Muslim couple marries, they produce more Muslims. Muslims also reproduce at a rate higher than the world average.

    Feminism on the other hand has to be “acquired”. You have to be taught about it, you have to learn it.

    Because of the fast increasing of number of Muslims in Europe, are not Europeans now threatened by Muslim immigration?

    Is that not the real reason for France’s veil ban?

    The silly veil ban, which I as a SE Asian see as a non-issue blown way out of proportion, is for France to remind French and other Europeans that the tide of Islam in Europe has to be halted.

    Isn’t that the issue here?

    Too bad, Feminists fell for this trap and got sucked in (quite stupidly, I should say) and complicate the issue further with Feminism.

    So from a small piece of cloth, which can be settled if security is quoted, it is now blown into an issue of Islamophobia – and Feminists, torn between secular ideals and a Muslim woman’s rights to dress, are stuck in between.

    Is that not what is happening now in France?

    On your point of “authority”. You misread me. I never said that the admin is the authority of feminism. I said the admin is the authority of THIS SITE.

    >>The feminism of a college educated white woman in the United States like myself is very different than the feminism of a stay at home Muslim mother in Indonesia — but neither is any less a feminist than the other, so long as the core beliefs of “woman as person” and “autonomy of person” are upheld.
    >>

    You assume too much. Feminism in Indonesia and Malaysia is very different from Feminism in the west. In fact, Feminism in Singapore (my homeland) is even different from Feminism in Malaysia!

    You talk as if Feminism is one whole homogeneous ideal all feminists in the world agree upon.

    >>When your core belief is that somehow you are superior to women and have the right to have authority over them, of course you’re threatened by feminism.
    >>

    You still don’t get it, do you? Feminism in SE Asia has not even caught on for it even to be noticed. What threat are you trying to say exists, when none exists?

    In Singapore, Feminism is seen as an ideal perpetuated by women who are confused in their choice between career and home. It is also seen as a platform for homosexuals to promote homosexual ideals, which in Singapore, is highly regarded as “alien”.

    To you, Feminism is liberation for women. Where I come from, Feminism is seen as an escapist route for women torn between career and home.

    Of all ideals that exist here, be it religion, tradition in the family, cultural practices, secularism, feminism etc, Feminism is about at the bottom of the scale, when it comes to influencing what society does here.

    On the other hand, Islam and other religions have so much impact, there are laws in these countries such that if you are caught for inciting racial disharmony, you pay your price with a jail term.

    The influence of Feminism here ranks so low, even the campaign of “No to rape” (within marriage) is thrown out of the window, before it can even be discussed in Parliament.

    Once again, you are using YOUR background to judge a totally different culture.

  26. Your last comment was pretty incoherent. Let me see if I get this right: Indonesian women think that feminism is irrelevant because marital rape is legal in their country?

    Once again, authoritarianism vs. autonomy. I know if I felt oppressed in a country where my legal rights were extremely limited, I wouldn’t be talking to men about my feminism. I suspect there are a lot more Indonesian feminist than you suspect. Certainly, if as you imply, your countrymen think its perfectly acceptable to rape a spouse, there is a need for feminism in your country. I suspect I have no need to help Indonesian women with their struggle unless asked, however, as they are just as autonomous as I am, and can handle themselves just fine.

  27. Manasi says:

    I do not think that the context of wearing of Hijab can be taken away from the act. If the garment is coded as one preserving the ‘modesty ‘ of women ONLY , intended so that men do not get tempted, thus meant for the safety of a woman from potential abuse- then the whole context firmly puts it in the realm of blatant descrimination against women. Even if its the woman’s choice- this is an object which is projecting values which definitely should not be encouraged. Thus the ban in the school/ public places ( and not otherwise).

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