anthro_polly (anthro_polly) wrote,

I just heard this story on npr on the way home from the post office, more precisely, on the way home after being rejected from the post office (they locked the doors just as I was reaching for the handle). Frankly, I'm alarmed and frustrated. Legislation that interferes with individual choice, religion, and identity on one of the most basic levels - how we cover and clothe our bodies - and simultaneously masquerades as some sort of human rights/feminist campaign is...bullshit. Actually, I'd like to formally call bullshit on Belgium right now.

First of all, let's make sure we know that I am and what I am not talking about:

1). While I -do- have legitimate and intense opinions (not favorable ones) regarding the obligatory wearing of the burka, hijab , or any other body covering that is exclusively mandatory for women and not men, I am not going to discuss that here. Why? Because I am assuming that Muslim Beglians, by virtue of living in Belgium and not Afghanistan, have a real choice on whether or not they (women) wear various types of head/body coverings. I'm also not going to address whatever "inherent" oppression coverings may or may not possess, mostly because I think the real oppression has more to do with the environment in which it is worn (enforced or not) rather than the silk itself.

2). Following the logic of No.1 and the assumptions inherent in it, I am not going to address social pressures Muslim women born or living in Belgium may or may not experience regarding wearing various head/body coverings. In other words, I'm not going to speculate on whether or not other members of their community, men or women, place any kind of pressure on women to cover themselves in particular way. I'm mostly avoiding this because it's kind of irrelevant to what I really want to talk about (although, it's an interesting debate in it's own right, and maybe I'll rant about it later) which is:

3). Outlawing religious dress is: a). ridiculous, b). unethical, c). will result in even more Islamophobia, and targeting women's religious dress is sexist, anti-feminist.

Who exactly is supporting/writing this legislation? According to NPR it's non-Muslim Belgians. This kind of reminds me of white folks who are intent on "saving" or "helping" or "whatever-ing" other people (specifically people of color and those who live in other countries) who they come to think of as poor, unfortunate, unable to help themselves, incapable, and in desperate need of White assistance and salvation.

ANYWAYS...what the fuck Belgium? So, seeing a woman wearing the hijab/burka/other head covering makes you uncomfortable? Why? That's the question I'd really like the answer to. What kind of assumptions do we make when we see a woman clearly marking herself as Muslim? Obviously, there's a long laundry list which accompanies any answer to this question.

They're making Islam illegal, and that's a problem. The Koran simply states "dress modestly," and this obviously has had many different interpretations. Obviously, several "styles" of Muslim dress are prolific, and I suspect that they are cultural as much as they are religious. Admittedly, in some countries muslim women are forced to dress a certain way, but this is likely not the case in Belgium (see No.'s 1 & 2).

Supporters of the legislation say that it brings Belgian Muslims freedom. Bullshit. I think Belgium's making a lot of problematic assumptions about  Islam, gender, and freedom. The way I see it, the only entity attempting to limit Belgian Muslim women's freedom is Belgium itself. By interfering with their religious expression the country is limiting freedom. By legislating clothing, the country is limiting freedom. What Belgium is promoting is xenophobia, hate, and some sort of vague Western European superiority regarding human rights and feminism.

This isn't over...I just have to go to class now.


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