Friday, May 14, 2010

Fred Nile makes it all clear

The burqa is understood as a controversial thing. In many ways, it represents the oppression of women in the more conservative brands of Islam, but somehow the idea that men with political power could ban its wearing altogether does not look like the liberation of women.

Still, it might not be obvious which is the lesser evil - allowing men as private citizens to dictate what women may wear or allowing men in power to dictate what women may wear.

But now, Fred Nile has shown us the way. Fred wants to introduce a bill to ban the burqa in NSW.

So if you've been wondering which is the lesser evil, I say follow Fred - if Fred supports it, it's a Bad Idea. Fred has made it clear - the path is to encourage and effect cultural change such that women are never coerced into in wearing clothing that makes them uncomfortable. Legislating away one side of the choice doesn't redress cultural removal of the other side.


  1. I agree fred = bad.
    But it did get me thinking (Fred usually stands for not thinking, sorry Fred).

    I had a long rant but then deleted it.

    To summerise.

    Our society should not fear a garment and making laws about said garment will only encourage more people to wear it, see the history of swimwear.

    Fred you're a jerk, Oppressing women is bad, but it is only freedom when its won, liberation imposed, is just oppression with different limits.

  2. I guess the first thing we need to do is find out why and when women wear a burqa. They are not compulsory from watching a woman at school. She wore it for a while and then stopped. Same as the headscarf, I thought once you started wearing it you could not stop. That is not true either. So some understanding would go a long way.

    If the burqa did become the latest item of clothing for criminals then it would have to be looked at. After all those who ride motor bikes can't wear a helmut into banks, shops etc and I'm sure the majority of those people are not criminals either.

  3. @Adam: I think I may have also originally written a rant to go with the post, but deleted it. :) But yes, I agree completely.

    @Toni: There are only cultural and religious norms as it stands. They are quite varied depending on the flavour of Islam to which women subscribe. And yes, for many women it is their own choice what they wear. I don't really see why I need to know exactly what those norms are, my obligation is to campaign for women to all always have access to education and choice and so on.

    I don't have a huge problem with applying helmet/ski mask laws to face veils - but that is a far cry to banning them in all public places.

    Fred wants to increase the restrictions, not decrease them - moving from cultural norms to legislation can hardly be regarded as an increase in freedom.

  4. I think that if the general public knew or understood more about why the clothing was worn it could reduce some of the problems or intolerance that exist and may help you in your campaign.

  5. I agree with you in a practical sense, but at the same time, I have pretty strong reservations about demanding that people explain their clothing choices.

    After all, the general public can find out if they can be bothered - it isn't a secret. Plenty of women have written and spoken about their experiences all along the spectrum. If Joe Public is making judgements based on ignorance, that's Joe Public's problem.

    Perhaps demanding that media don't perpetuate myths might be useful though. Of course, that would take 95% of talkback radio off the air.....