Thursday, 13 May 2010
Our Bodies, our Choice
Many years ago, while working for a large non-profit organisation, there was a very heavy woman, some would even say obese. Despite this, she wore short skirts...and she made it work. I mentioned this to a co-worker who was surprised, and seemed disgusted, by my comment. At the time, I was simply thinking that if this woman felt comfortable in that skirt, and it looked no worse on her than it would look on me, at 110 pounds (back then anyway!), why shouldn't she wear the skirt. Others didn't want to be subjected to her thick legs and round bottom, perhaps, but who were they to impose their ideals about weight and dress code on her. I was reminded of this situation in the past weeks while reading about the suggested ban on the burqa in Belgium and then France. The Belgians and French want to make it illegal for women to wear head and facial coverings in public. They, and their supporters, claim this is a common sense approach to terrorism. In France this week, a resolution was passed that calls the wearing of the burqa and similar covering 'contrary to the values of the nation'. It was passed by all lawmakers in the French parliament. This resolution will make the next step easier - to ban the burqa. It amazes me that so many people can't see this for what it is - racial intolerance and anti-immigration sentiment. What will happen if the burqa is banned? Muslims will stop moving to France, and women will be stuck inside. Ultimately, this is a feminist issue, and for as much as the French people get in the streets to protest, I'm surprised French feminists don't rise up right now. Some Muslim women wear the burqa, niqab and hijab because they want to, some because they have to, and some probably do so because their peers do (the same reason I straighten my hair - I saw it on someone else). A few of them might stop wearing it, but many might simply become prisoners in their own homes. So a seemingly progressive, free nation like France is completely ignoring the rights of female citizens/residents in order to remain 'French'. I love to travel, but I consider where my tourist dollars are going, and as much as I love France, I won't heading there anytime soon.