France has made headlines recently when multiple beach towns implemented a ban on “burkinis.” Burkinis are a fully covered swimsuit often worn by Muslim women. They are pretty much burkas for the beach.
People have long argued that burkas and by extension, burkinis are a sign of religious oppression. In many areas of the world, it is illegal for women not to wear burkas in public. In other places, women are coerced through cultural norms to wear burkas. On the flip side, it has been argued by some Muslims that non-Muslims have been brainwashed by secular cultural norms to wear more revealing clothing to please the men. Some Muslim women even argue that covering up is their choice to protect themselves against unwanted attention, stares, and advances made by men.
Conversely, there is a movement in America to overturn laws forcing women to cover their breasts in public. Their argument is that women shouldn’t be shamed for going topless and that it is religious puritanism that is at the heart of these types of restrictive laws. Women have the right to their own bodies and just because they are topless that is no excuse for any negative behavior toward them by men.
Points for both sides. Here is a novel thought, why can’t people wear whatever the hell they want whether that means wearing a sack over their body or wearing nothing at all. Sure, there are going to be some cultural coercive pressures on people to wear or not wear certain attire that fit with cultural values but we should make an effort to try to minimize that coercion as much as possible.
If a Muslim woman living in a free society chooses to wear a burkini on the beach, that is her choice. And if an American woman living in a free society chooses to go topless on the city street, that is her choice. As long as no one is being threatened for their wardrobe choices, I don’t have a problem.
- Parent offended by Star Wars action figure (skepticink.com)
- Muslim Women Claim Not To Be Oppressed (skepticink.com)
- ‘Topless Jihad’ protests over call for stoning of Tunisian activist (Photos) (examiner.com)