I came across this article from the LA Times this week I thought I’d share. It has NOTHING to do with my normal blog topics, but it made me think a lot so I thought I’d pass it on.
The article covers legislation in France that makes it illegal for women to wear burqas in public places. It says that this vote passed because the burqa “undermines French values” (being about subservience, not religion), but it’s overall seen as attempt to “clamp down on Islamic extremism.”
On the one hand, I’m a religious person (though not Muslim) and don’t like the idea of restricting religious freedom. On the other, I wonder how many women really WANT to wear a burqa and how many are forced to so that this law would “free” them and give them equality in exactly the way it says.
But throwing out arguments about religious freedom (though those are the most likely to reverse any decision), I thought about this a bit more and just kept coming up with more questions, like:
1. Doesn’t this just restrict these women all the more? Won’t they be forced to stay out of the public entirely now? Doesn’t this give the males the French see as oppressing them more power and the women less freedom, as now they can’t even leave their homes?
2. Or, what if the women WANT to wear the burqa? Trying to think of what might be an equivalent (though I don’t understand much about the rules on the burqa), what if I were forced to leave the house only in a bikini? Or my underwear? (or would it be even less?) I would feel uncomfortable (and, on display and all sorts of other things). I would feel more restricted to my home. And, honestly, I’d feel like that law was totally oppressing and objectifying me. So does this type of rule do exactly the opposite of what it suggests/intends for some women?
And then there are all the arguments about religious freedom… Or does the burqa “scare” the average person the street because they see it as extremism and worry about terrorism? So is it about making 99% of people feel safer? Are they actually really concerned that maybe it’s not a woman in the burqa but that such a large shapeless dress could conceal a man with a bomb strapped to his chest – in which case it’s not about the perception of safety, but about real safety?
As you can see, I am ALL OVER THE MAP on this one. So I was sort of wondering what the ol’ interwebby thought of it all. I have a traffic jam of thoughts roaming through my head and wondered about other perspectives on it – what do you think?