I've been thinking about the whole burqa/niqab debate lately. And it seems that everyone has an opinion. Of course I have one....well, when forced to I do. My problem is apathy. I really don't care what people wear. And usually I don't care what their reasons are for wearing their stuff.
I care when people are forced to do something they don't want to.... if they're not a recalcitrant teen... or bolshie toddler.
One of my greatest annoyances is when people from western culture/religion who give up all manifestations of the culture they are born/bred in to and then adopt all the outward symbols of some mystical, alien, attention seeking culture.... not that the other culture is attention seeking... just that it becomes really important to some people that the whole world notice their difference-ness, their other-ness.... we all have to witness their internal change.
It shits me to tears. Western women in burkas, western men/women in monk/nun robes... they all look like dickheads with personality disorders trying to prove something..to be more devout, more humane, more "at one" with the universe and less powerful populations.
The very premise they are trying to promote.... their one-ness with the "others" just makes them ignorant and laughable morons. By trying to blend, and be better and more devout followers than the natives, they appear to me to be ego-centric...bringing their insensitive, western, self-absorption is the antithesis of both these groups.
Even the H.H. the Dalai Lama tells people not to become ordained monks and nuns unless they are Tibetan. I suspect he thinks they're dickheads too. I'll never forget walking down the main street of a leafy, lower north shore suburb in Sydney... to see some anglo-saxon monk, in full robes with shaved head... .standing at the Westpac a.t.m. withdrawing money.
The whole burqa debate seems to, in part, be coming from a similar place. There are a whole bunch of ring-in women jumping on the already inflamed bandwagon trying to stir up the far right and hand-wringing feminists.... of which I am one. Not on the far right.... a bit of a hand-wringer.
So few women really want to wear the burqa, it's hard to see it as an issue in most societies. I've read reports in France that it's just a few hundred women. I suspect that in Australia there won't be so many hardcore neo-enthusiasts, the heat is just so foul here.
But the chicks who are the dinky-die, born and bread Muslims... if they want to wear Santa outfits, furry football mascot regalia or white wedding bridal veils... we've got no problem as a society.... but god help them if they want to wear something of their own choosing.
I just don't get it. We bang on about their free choice, and yet take away their choice by telling them that we know better than they do.... that they must not wear what we don't understand.
I have no doubt that there are some women who are forced to wear clothes by their menfolk.... both muslims and non-muslims. I"ve met women who won't wear a certain type of shirt or skirt because the boyfriend/husband doesn't like it.... others that have to wear specific clothing that their other halves have bought for them. As Eva Cox pointed out in the paper... why the fuck aren't we railing against all men who tell women what to wear/do? This is the point. Not what the bloody clothes are. The law should stop this happening. Society should stop this happening. Humanity should stop this happening.
So let women wear whatever the hell they want... I think we should legislate against dickheads who try and control them. We're never going to stop it, but we need to work towards that end. And in the mean time... not marginalise a potentially very small and vulnerable part of the population. If you really want to support women, banning the burqa is only going to make the women who are forced in to wearing them stay at home, away from health care and education...and if they're wearing them because they're Western converts... it's going to make them very boring, whiny martyrs. And I could do without that shit...