Oh No: French Cities Ban the Burqini
In Cannes, Villeneuve-Loubet and Corsican village Sisco, women are no longer allowed to wear burqinis (colloquial term for full-body covering beach wear that leaves only the face showing).
The best (worst) part is that this isn’t even a part of France’s war on people displaying their religion in general, but is actually just equating Muslims with terrorists: “We are not talking about banning the wearing of religious symbols on the beach… but ostentatious clothing which refers to an allegiance to terrorist movements which are at war with us,” says Thierry Migoule, Cannes’ Head of Municipal Services.
Come on, guys. You can be so much better. Or maybe you can’t, because you refuse to be.
Of course, this also steps into feminist territory because it is specifically dealing with clothing a woman is allowed to wear. Unsurprisingly, many Western feminists are not speaking out against this because they find the burqa sexist on its own.
When it comes to religious garb, women are disproportionately targeted for modesty and control. Many sects of Christianity mandate head coverings and long skirts for women in the same way many Muslim groups mandate burqas.
Do I think this is at least a little bit sexist? Without a doubt. As someone who was raised being told not to “lead my brothers into sin” by wearing tempting clothing, I think religious dress codes for women generally stem from a spiritualization of rape culture. I just don’t think sexist religious dress codes (that exist in most religions) are fixed by banning women from participating in them, since you’re basically preventing her from participating in her religion of choice.
Okay, so I get that when it comes to women’s freedom of choice over what we do with our bodies, it can easily become confusing for people who think they know better than that woman what she really wants. Are women who wear burkas really making a free and informed choice? What about women who show cleavage all the time? Is their choice truly theirs or has it been foisted upon them by the patriarchy?
Here’s a thought: let’s not assume we know things we don’t have any way of actually knowing, and let’s give women (at the very least adult women) the benefit of the doubt that their brains work and that they are making choices on their own and that they feel good with what they are doing and that if they realize later that they don’t, they will change on their own.
Originally published at www.thereceptionistblog.com on August 16, 2016.