Thursday, 25 June 2009

Feminism and Islam

In reading through the newspaper yesterday, I came upon an article discussing French President Nicolas Sarkozy's ban on the burqa in France. His argument was that it was degrading to women, and that France should not allow women to be treated in this way. To be honest, it sounded more as though it was an attempt to force French values on immigrants. This is not the first time aspects of Islam have been surpressed in France. I remember a few years back, there being a ban on hijab in schools. Since when has Mr. Sarkozy become the French authority on what is degrading to women, I ask? When Muslim women move overseas to places like France, they (some, at least) have a choice as to whether they want to wear hijab, just as nuns choose to wear a habit, orthodox Jewish women choose to wear wigs, and those of us who wear our hair down choose the style and length. It seems to me that France is far too worried about change, and imposing French values as a means of avoiding diversity.

8 comments:

Arizaphale said...

Oh hear hear!! Is Mr Sarkozy going to ban the apron as well? In a documentary I saw, many Muslim women said they love their burkas and that it gives them a kind of freedom. Now I don't get this but if they feel that way, who are we (or the French) to deny them? If Mr Sarkozy is so concerned for their welfare he might understand that.

A Free Man said...

Well, I suspect that Sarkozy knows a thing or two about degrading women, but...

No, I think you're right. It's more xenophobia than feminism.

Suzer said...

Interesting Chris. I was actually thinking that perhaps wearing hijab could be interpreted as feminism in action.

Colette said...

Lots of non muslims write about Islam and the role of women without any knowledge of the actual value system of Islam with regard to women. Many women do not wear the burka from choice but are forced to do so by fathers, brothers or husbands. Depriving women of their identity is about men controlling women. I did not fight hard for equality for women in the sixties and seventies to see women degraded in this way!

Muddiah said...

Basically politicians say what they think their constituents want to hear and I think the French, sadly, are a somewhat intolerant people when it comes to cultures other than their own.

On the other hand, even though women should be allowed to dress as they wish, I do think some Muslim women would not be wearing the burqa if they had a choice. Wearing all those layers is uncomfortable at the least speaking as one who knows :)

opinioneater said...

It's amazing, isn't it, how being an immigrant yourself helps you see things done in the name of a country's "values" are really thinly veiled ethnocentrism or xenophobia.
Even more fascinating to me is how Americans in Australia or vice versa can experience this from a fly on the wall perspective. People will say and do things in front of us just because we look like them and, as evidenced in your previous post, wind up sounding (and hopefully feeling) like a real horse's arse.

Dori said...

Well said!

And your commenter who claims that this practice is always oppressive might want to read this, this, this, and this.

Freedom doesn't look the same everywhere, and to think that it does puts unnecessary limits on the agency of those who need support, not limitations.

Expat said...

Living in a Muslim country myself, for many years, I disagree. As Muslim women here have pointed out to me, many of them are against the full face veil and even more so against a costume like the Burqua BECAUSE of the potential for abuse of trust. How do you know it is not a man under the costume? How do you know it is not a terrorist? How do you know who is actually taking an examination?

These are the objections moderate but conservative MUSLIM women have pointed out to me that THEY are against such extreme costumes.

Expat 21, at Expat Abroad
expat21.wordpress.com