You’ve Got to BurKining Me!

(Title credit goes to Samsonite Blister)

So there has been quite a lot of outrage lately surrounding the burkini, and rightfully so! (If you haven’t heard about this, can I say welcome to the world from ‘neath your rock. I am so touched that you came to join us).

The Burkini could be described as an extended, loose wetsuit with a hood, which was designed by an Aussie, the whole world has learned. But unlike the wetsuit (which really leaves nothing to our protesting/scarred imaginations) it allows women the option to either dress modestly for religious purposes or protectively for sun purposes. Or billowingly for floating purposes! (You’ll have to think outside of the box for that one).

Whatever the reason, the burkini has been around for years and has not been directly linked to any act of terrorism.

But, as you know, except for our under-the-rock friends, there are some seaside towns in France that have banned the burkini on their beaches. (The ban was overturned by one sober judge in France who deemed it unconstitutional. This is only effective in Cannes but the ruling has given Human Rights groups the impetus to fight the ban in 30 other French seaside towns and resorts).

At first it was thought that the authorities would be issuing fines but then it all exploded last week when a woman was accosted by 3 policemen in Nice who FORCED HER TO UNDRESS IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY. EVERYBODY. And if that wasn’t bad enough, there were allegations of people calling out for her to ‘go back where she came from’!!

OK – let me just turn down the heat on this rampage for a minute and discuss the issue at hand.

THE ‘REASONING’

There are some nut-jobs running around the world carrying out all sorts of heinous crimes in the name of God and Islam. (N.B. I used “God” because I am speaking English. “Allah” is the Arabic word for God. Christians who speak Arabic also pray to Allah. It is one God. So choose to worship him or not- but it is the same God. Also, I purposefully refer to God in the masculine form because I don’t think a female is responsible for *disinterestedly points to the world* all this – that is personal choice. The first point, however, is a fact. Get over it.)

So back to these nut-jobs (very much an understatement). These guys are creating real fear in the West because of the number of attacks that have taken place in Europe of late. Especially France. (People in the Middle East are also living in fear and not only from the nut-jobs! There are currently about three wars going on, international airstrikes, chemical weapons, sexual slavery, shortages of food, water, medical supplies, room, air, breath, life…)

Some might argue, and many have, that the reason for the concentrated attacks in France is because there is a large population of North Africans who have emigrated to France. Many will argue that THAT is due to years of colonial rule and destruction of Northern Africa by France. Some will conveniently forget about that valid point.

Sorry, I am trying really hard to keep this focussed on the burkini. This is difficult.

COLONISATION

The short of it is this: France went into North Africa and colonised it. If you know your history, you will know the horror that entails without me having to describe it, right? Rock friend, you and I can take this offline and discuss it later. France colonized and destroyed the region and its people up until the last century, when the people fought back (also aided by French citizens by the way).

But as is common in post-colonial countries, many moved to France for a better life. And many have been living there without any issues or incidents for generations.

In fact, I’ve been informed that there is a Colonial Tax, which these countries forcibly pay to France in exchange for them accepting ex-pats from those countries. So France agreed to this. It is getting money in return. Changes things slightly, eh?

Once again, I’m trying really hard not to get into the politics of all this – or rather not to get into the politics of the history of all this. But currently, there have been a spate of attacks in France aimed at civilians, enacted by misguided youth who use the Islamic faith to justify their radical and brutal acts.

And people/the media have painted all Muslims as terrorists at worst, or backwards at best. And there is now a growing distrust between Muslims (and their supporters- or rather reasonable people) and idiot bigots. Hey, I said I wouldn’t go too deep into the politics, I never said I would be impartial about it.

CONTROLLING MUSLIM WOMEN

And now we have set the scene for the burkini ban. This isn’t new by the way; the niqab and the chador have been banned in France since 2011. In fact, this ban extends to any clothing in which the face is covered. They had to include masks and balaclavas to not make it seem targeted – sorry Zorro. So a precedent was set.

intermit-french-face-cover-ban

BANNED IN FRANCE – Face Coverings in Public Places: The Niqab, The Mask, The Zentai. Pictures: a) Alarabiya; b) Cinema Blend; & c) Zentai-Zentai

Muslim women have been the face of Islam for a long time – namely because they are easier to spot if they choose to wear their religious and cultural dress.

For example, after September 11, the attacks on Muslim women in Australia spiked, with many having their hijabs yanked off their heads by passing strangers, the real hero types.

Ever since, hatred had been simmering. Globally.

WHY BANNING THE BURKINI IS [INSERT DAMNING WORD HERE]

It is not up to anybody, anywhere, to tell a woman what she can wear, ever. Let me repeat that – it is not up to anybody, anywhere, to tell a woman what she can wear, ever. I mean, I have ranted. I have commented and suggested; I have been disgusted. But I have never told anyone what to wear.

I had an online argument with some idiot (I know, I know, I am getting better at not doing that, I promise) who claimed that Feminists were hypocrites because we should agree that women should not wear the burkini. My head short-circuited for a second. Breathe…

Feminists fought for women to be able to choose what they want for themselves. Feminists did NOT fight to undress every woman. I would even be so brazen to argue that a woman who chooses to cover up is more of a feminist than those who run around half-naked! But being a feminist, it is NOT my place to tell women not to run around naked if they so choose- see how that works?

When, as happened recently in France, an attempt is made to coerce women out of the burqa rather than creating a situation in which a woman can choose what she wishes to do, it’s not about liberating her but about unclothing her. It becomes an act of humiliation and cultural imperialism. It’s not about the burqa. It’s about coercion. Coercing a woman out of a burqa is as bad as coercing her into one.

– Arundhati Roy

france-swimsuit-burkini-ban-decree

A woman’s swimsuit measured in the name of modesty (1925); woman forced to undress in the name of liberty (2016)…as seen in Men Won’t Stop Controlling Women’s Dresscode by Nuha ElZubeir, Identity Mag

This isn’t about feminism. This isn’t about liberating Muslim women around the world. This is the new colonisation. Assimilate! Integrate! Conform! Forget your own traditions and culture and regulations.

The excuse these towns in France used? It was incendiary and went against their French traditions. Their French traditions of Equality, Liberty and Brotherhood. To let a woman wear what she wants. That works against these three tenets. For a woman to be in charge of her own body. That’s against them.

Meanwhile, in Dubai, which is NOT based on freedom and equality, I have seen just as many ass cheeks hanging out of denim shorts as hijabs, just as many ‘lads’ and ‘ladies’ drunk off their chops as I would in… anywhere in England really.

Everyone is running around town speaking English or Spanish or Tagalog, eating roast dinners or duck al ’orange, or a cracking biryani. On the weekends they lie around the beach in bikinis or shorts, clean shaven etc.  With tattoos – heaven forbid!

And there are no repercussions.

Where are the calls to assimilate? Where are the rules to leave your traditions and cultural dress at home? To become a part of the country you have chosen to live in?

Oh, is it a one-way street? How surprising.

No one will be going back to where they came from, then?

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