But surely Melanie, with your attitude you can't side with the burqa?
Darling, I don't even side with clothes.
My attitude is that clothing is all for comfort and fashion and anyone who feels otherwise has been brainwashed. Yes, I said brainwashed.
I've said it before, taken the heat, and I'll say it again.
Oh alright then, encultured. Same thing.
Ask any toddler why they wear clothes. They'll tell you it's because Mommy says they must. They strip off every chance they get. I've even had them run outside in the snow. They soon come back in, but the impulse is to just run and play no matter what. And that's real.
That's why there are parents. Because kids don't have any sense of danger.
Children don't worry about being naked until they are taught to. Some are quicker to copy than others. Some are quicker to conform than others. My youngest was so well known for hating clothes that his aunt bought him PJs with Nude Nigel on. For those of you unfamiliar with the character here's the book:
Why do we insist our kids wear clothes? Convention. Etiquette. Climate. Religion.
I have danced naked in public when I was young and beautiful, and I'm not afraid to do it now I'm old and ugly. It's only skin.
So WHY do I wear clothes? Well I live in Ontario for a start. I don't want frostbite. In summer when I could get away with it I would burn my nipples and bum (been there done that) if I didn't at least have something on. But also "When in Rome". You see, agreeing to certain social conventions won't take away my "rebel" status. So long as I have the choice, it's all cool. The law says that I can show my tits in public, and that's good enough. I generally simply exercise my right to let my nipples show through my shirt. Bite me.
I've blogged on this topic before, and will do so again. Forever. I hate stupidity, and, yes, I will say shocking things to make a point, because some minds are so rigid it's the only way to get them working.
I may, therefore, not be the person you should go to for advice on "decency". I think the concept is a load of rubbish. The advantage I have is simply a lack of inhibitions. Therefore I examine the idea rather clinically.
I'm also not stupid. Because I try, because I want to understand, I know that people do have inhibitions. That doesn't make them faulty or bad. It isn't a disorder. It's familiarity. It's upbringing. It's culture. It's all sorts of memories and little voices in the head. It becomes very deep-rooted in their comfort zones, this isn't something that can be just brushed aside.
Could you brush it aside if you were required to suddenly wear a lot less? To the point you felt indecent? Doesn't matter how "silly" it was to feel that way. And in any case, who has the right to tell you to do that? How do you feel about strip searches at airports? Remember all the fuss about X-Ray machines, a few years back?
As I said, I don't even mind being NAKED in front of strangers, but I resent being TOLD that I have to uncover myself.
And I will stand up for anyone who feels uncomfortable, in any way, being told what she can or can't wear, because it's nobody else's business but her own.
It is very, very important that we give a woman the right to wear what she pleases. Either way. Double standards just don't work, they don't stand up to scrutiny or logic. You cannot cry "women's rights" and then insist a woman undresses for you. It doesn't work like that.
Aha, you say, because you know everything, she was forced to dress like that, by her husband/father.
Was she? How do you know? Have you asked her? What percentage of women outside those countries where the Taliban or whoever is in charge demands - against her will or whatever - that she wear a niqab or even a burqa are forced into it?
Obviously some are.
OK, let's consider that. Let's say it's absolutely true for example woman A. She had no input here. She's covering herself up because she was told to. We'll call her Amrah. She's genuinely oppressed.
Poor Amrah. Forced into marriage with a stranger. And he's a hardliner too. He insists she covers when she's out. At home, however, she has beautiful clothes, a lovely home, and he's a good man. He genuinely loves her and he treats her well. He's just uptight about decency and tradition. And then there's her father, a conservative, old fashioned but a good man. He believes everything he's done has been for her best interests, including who he found her to marry. She loves both of them very much.
Along comes a total stranger. Dude from the government. He's rude to her father and her husband, and he demands she takes her clothes off.
Tell me, if you were Amrah would you feel liberated by that? Or would you resent it? Who would you feel you should listen to, the men you loved or a civil servant?
AHA! You say, but what if her father and husband are cruel to her, and she would really benefit from outside intervention, and she wishes it were there for her.
It is. She's not living under the Taliban. There are already a slew of laws in place to prevent her family abusing her. If you want to help her, put your efforts into that. Enable all women to have freedom from controlling, abusive men. It was only a few years ago that "we" didn't interfere in domestic matters. Then we discovered just how huge a problem it was, and we created lots of laws and solutions for those women. We just don't fund it properly, and all the shelters are full.
You don't help oppressed women by oppressing them a different way. You help by making it easy for them to leave (or prosecute) bad men.
There are bad men everywhere. It's a personality type. They exist in every religion, culture, social status, and location. They seek power and control, and they try to manipulate. They'll use any method available, and they jump all over religious excuses. That's not a Muslim issue, not at all. It's a psychological issue, a social issue, and a criminal issue. It's a HUGE issue. And you won't fix domestic violence by making women take their clothes off, any more than you'll fix it by making them put more clothes on. That's just something dreamt up by those looking for a handy excuse to exert power and control.
Manipulation of other people is the area of the psychopath.
If we are ever going to move forward as a species, then when we talk about rights, we have to be sure that we are not really using it as a way of exercising our own manipulation of others. That doesn't happen overnight. There has to be a deep self-examination of all motives and reasons, and it can make people need to admit things they aren't ready to admit.
If you pretend that your objection to women covering themselves is because you care for their rights, rather than admit you want things done your way, then you my friend have a long way to go in that self-examination process, and I would strongly suggest that you work on that.
To reiterate. I support nakedness. I think the idea of "decency" is ridiculous. Let women wear what they want to wear. If they are being manipulated then let's deal with that. There's a lot of it about.