02 July 2009

thought leader moments of fail...

so i mentioned that i'm a frequent commenter on thought leader.

generally speaking, there is a high amount of fail among both the contributors *and* the commenters, largely, i feel, because they were raised in a closed police state and the resultant mentality thereto. it's still evident in so much south africans in general do, and they largely have a really screwed up worldview.

something that i've noticed is that many people latch on to all things european [and the english premier league gets more tv airplay and newsprint than the local soccer league], including political thought.

today's moment of fail is so fantastic and the writer is so out of his league that i had to call in someone who, i don't know, has a bibliography on such things to check it out.

this is her reponse to it; i'm not sure if she left a response there, so i'm pasting it from my email. i completely suspect that she just looked at the title of the link and started writing, because it's just that obvious, but there you go:

My own feeling is that Turkey, France, Saudi, Iran (pre- and post-revolution), and Afghanistan are all wrong in either requiring or banning any form of the veil, because it violates freedom of choice. It's wrong in theory, and it's wrong in practice in that it's had actual, non-hypothetical consequences for women (girls dropping out of school in France because they can't wear the hijab anymore; girls burning to death in a Saudi school because they can't be seen in public without being covered, etc.).

Taken out of the realm of law, though, and into the realm of "dignity" -- I know there are Muslim women who wear full burqa because it's what they're most comfortable in culturally (all the women around them wear it, their mother wore it, whatever) and others, converts, who wear it to subvert/undermine the male gaze. But I also think there are women who do it to say "I am more Muslim-er than you," and I don't like it being used this way, as a barometer of piety, with the implication that women who wear just the scarf or who don't veil at all are whores and going to hell. Personally, I don't think any form of the veil is required by Islam, although "modesty" is, for both men and women. But I also respect that other women feel differently, and I can see the argument that a lot of Muslim women in North America make, that it identifies you as a Muslim to others and that, like fasting, the hardship that goes with it is its own reward.

I think Sarkozy would have more credibility on this issue if he spent a lot more time dealing with the problems in French ghettos rather than policing women's clothing. I know some Muslim feminists who've made the argument that a law like this is good, because it puts the burden of the argument on the state, taking it off of young girls. In other words, a 13-year-old who doesn't want to wear it can say "hey Dad, it's the law!" and is relieved of having to come up with an Islamically sound argument against it. Dad can then sit at home hating France, instead of calling his daughter a slut. I can see that, but it sounds a lot better coming from a Muslim feminist who advocates for women's and Muslims' rights on multiple fronts. From Sarkozy, it just sounds xenophobic.


Sentletse said...

How can it be out of choice when the burka is imposed on Muslim women by religious prescriptions? Choice is when nothing obliges you do wear it and out of your own volition chooses to cover your face. I would challenge any Muslim woman who argues that it is out choice that she covers her face. I would challenge her to prove that nothing in her religion demands that she does so.

kwerekwere said...

what you're missing out the option is to trade in one type of sexism for another type of sexism.

"you should not cover your women," as preached in the west, is "you're in our country and we demand the right to look at your women."

it's basically a legal codification of "bring them out to us, so we may know them." does that ring a bell? because legally, that's a lot of how such laws come across.

see, it's funny, in west africa -- there are women who cover their hair, but who aren't burqabis. [actually, burqabis are really rare in west africa except in mauritania and nigeria; and while you'll find burqabis in northern nigeria, you won't find them in niger.]

the whole way that it's being presented in europe is that "we must have access to your women" -- which is completely counterproductive. none of you are getting that.

of course, i wouldn't expect people in a country where women are stripped naked for wearing pants to figure that part out.

basically you want to trade in one set of [what you perceive to be] oppressive sexism for another kind -- and yet, you don't seem to see it.

Sha said...

Sentletse, women have the choice of whether to follow those prescriptions or not, and a choice to follow stricter or looser interpretations of those prescriptions. Religion overall is voluntary, and the Quran itself says "There is no compulsion in religion". While this is sometimes not true in authoritarian countries it is definately true for many muslim women (such as those in South Africa). By stripping them of the choice to follow their interpretation of religion, or assuming that you or Sarcozy (both males) know what is best for them you are being extremely sexist (as kwereskwere notes) and completely undermining their freedom to choose, to engage with religion and to form their own belief system.

Jebb X said...

Personaly I think it is utterly ridiculous, on all fronts.

If an individual wants to wear a covering of any kind, allow them, it is their choice. If they do not wish to wear it, one must allow that as well.

The problem comes in when the child chooses not to wear the scarf / covering / whatever that is required of them by their fathers or mothers because of their religion.

The removal of choice is the issue at hand. Personally, I feel that the law banning the burqa is counter-choice and, of itself, hindering to human right.