Burkini? Her Choice, not yours
I am surprised of how prevalent is telepathy.
Suddenly people know what’s going on inside the heads of all Muslim women who use hijab and want to cover their bodies on the beach.
Of course, I believe that Islam is a false religion based on laughable myths, with a bloody history and a bloody present. However, I have similar thoughts about Catholicism (or any other flavor of Christianity) or even Buddhism. It is not up to me to tell others what to believe. As long as there’s no coercion and no violence, people should be free to think, believe and wear what they want.
Are there women who are forced to wear hijab or burkini? Sure, and it is terrible, it should be stopped. Banning clothing implements does not solve their problems, neither takes care of the coercion. It limits their options. And it is a threat against those who choose freely to wear a conservative outfit.
In my ideal world we are all naked on the beach. In my less ideal world, there are naked people on the beach, there are others covered in different degrees, from burkini to g strings, everyone cares about their issues, and the state takes care of more relevant things than deciding what I am allowed to wear.
What good does to oppressed women to ban the burkini?
Even if the ban works, it doesn’t solve the problem. Just because oppressed women stop going to the beach doesn’t mean that they are not oppressed any longer. Their lives will still be ruled by misogynistic pigs, they still will be subject to barbaric rules and customs that they don’t agree with. But they will not be offending our sophisticated Western opinions and they will not be on the beach reminding us of their plight. Out of sight, out of mind. We can pat ourselves on the back about how much we care about oppressed women, about how bravely we are defending the values of Illustration and Humanism while Amina, Irshad and Fatima are still subjected to brutal treatment and oppression.
Banning the burkini won’t help these women. It will only take away a day at the beach from them.
The real problem is not women using the burkini. It is women forced to behave and dress in a certain way.
There are other situations where more serious issues are in play, and we allow people make choices that most of us think as harmful. Refusing a blood transfusion is a big deal. It can kill you. Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusions because of religious reasons. I have seen a lot of people claiming that children should not have the right to reject these treatments, or that their parents should have not the right to prevent the treatment of said children.
I have never seen anyone saying that adult men should not have the right to reject transfusions. Sure, we think it’s insane, but it is their right to die because stupid reasons. And I agree.
Now, it seems hypocritical to me to question the choice of a woman of using hijab and insist in banning the burkini while we allow JW to reject blood transfusions.
How can we really help women in these situations? I am not sure. I am not an expert. But I’d like to see our focus shifting from telling women what to wear to telling women that they are not alone. Let Muslim women know that they can escape and we will help them. Set hotlines for women who are afraid, help them to get a career. Make extremely clear to fundamentalist Muslims and to everyone that Islam is a choice, and that apostasy can happen. Get in jail every Imam or common person saying that apostates shall be put to death. Promote peaceful versions of Islam. Punish and fine men who shout to women in streets that they should cover. We need to make sure that there is no pressure to comply with conservative dress codes, and if that means cultural changes, so be it. Islam can be compatible with freedom and with our modern culture, and women can be a key part of this effort. In any case, let’s start making people who force their religion on others accountable for their acts, not make even worse the life of the women they oppress.