Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 09:56:14 AM EST
I haven't had the time to chime in on the subject (and join in the fun?), but I'm in an off-site meeting this afternoon and not all subjects covered there are equally interesting :)
It all started a couple of weeks ago when a couple of lawmakers decided to start a workgroup on the burqa wearing in France; it was supposed to be just a study group, with right wing as well as left wing lawmakers, united by the traditional French secularism ("laïcité").
Until the President, N.Sarkozy, decided this was to good a wedge issue to be left to the Parliament, that is.
Many young women are wearing the scarf (or the burqa or the whatever) on their own choice; yes, many are coerced but many are not; no precise statistics of course on whether this is the last rebellious teenage girls fashion statement or a large scale women lock-in.
Anyway, lawmakers are pondering legislation. Forty years ago, they wanted to prevent women from wearing mini-skirt and wearing pants was also prohibited for women (if I'm not mistaken).
Politicians, who are overwhelmingly white males above fifty, are often trying to legislate what teenage girls and young women can and cannot wear.
Is it just me or am I the only one finding this really, really creepy?
The woman's body is a battleground, not only in the USA. It is none of my business what a woman decides to wear in a free country.
I may like it or not; and yes the burqa is really a "portable prison", and it's purpose is both to keep the woman "in" and the others "out".
I fully agree that some or many of these women are coerced in some way (threat, explicit or implicit, social or family pressure...), so what is to be done?
No easy answer, but my approach is to consider it (the coercion part) as violence against women and children; then it makes sense to use the available laws against such violence and even improve them.
You may note this is not the right wing approach with their "ban the burqa": women are being forced to cover themselves by their radical Muslim family? Let's punish the victim, of course.
There is no reason for the progressives to follow the right on this: forcing a woman to lock herself in a piece of cloth is domestic violence, period.
OK it may be domestic violence that challenges the secular nature of our Republic, but this is violence against vulnerable human beings first.
And while I am really tolerant of other people fashion choices, I am not taking violence against vulnerable people too kindly.
There are police officers who must spend more time fighting neighborhood crimes and domestic violence rather than being forced to spend their time chasing undocumented migrants or provide big scale security detail when our monarch is visiting town.
And there must be more social workers on these cases, and education in the poorer neighborhoods must be improved, it's an investment in our future.
This would be a progressive approach. We don't have to let Mr Sarkozy and friends frame the issue.