Monday, April 11, 2011

women's clothes, again

France bans veils
OK, I understand why France decided to ban headscarves and veils. I get that they consider it degrading to women and a security risk. I also understand that many people consider this a cultural assimilation issue: as Muslims assimilate, they should discard their cultural customs to fit in with France cultural customs.
But I'm not comfortable with a blanket ban. Let me try to be succinct in explaining why.
1. Men make up the majority of the French government, which means that men had a larger voice in this decision which affects the clothing of women.
2. Not all Muslim women are forced to wear a veil: many Muslim women enjoy the modesty and privacy afforded by headscarves and veils.
3. While security issues are certainly a valid concern, this law goes far beyond security issues: how is it a problem for a veiled woman to walk her children to school, or to a park, or to go shopping?
4. The cultural assimilation argument shows a lack of understanding of healthy assimilation, which ultimately ends up with the minority culture being accepted. Assimilation is a two way street. I mean, does anyone seriously regret the fact that Italians chose to continue making their own food, even when American officials pushed them to eat an American diet?

At its most basic and simplified: I see this ban as an attempt to make women dress according to the desires of men. True freedom and respect would allow women to choose their own clothing, veil or no veil. If there's a security concern, then sure, require a full face photograph. At that point, it is the woman's choice whether or not she will comply - if she chooses not, she will forego the privileges of a full face photograph ID. But it is still her choice.

And yes, I also think that Muslim men should not require Muslim women to wear veils. It's just a shame that the French government is trying to do the same thing that the Muslim men are: make women dress according to THEIR customs.

1 comment: