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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

"An identity reduced to a burka"

68 replies

Mamaz0n · 31/05/2011 17:30

Just read This very thought provoking article and thought i would share.

I was quite surprised to read that there are more women in the iranian government than there are in the US senate.
Dispells a fair few myths i feel.

OP posts:
Riveninside · 31/05/2011 20:46

Fab article

alexpolismum · 01/06/2011 07:47

Interesting article, although I must say I disagree with some of it.

It finishes by saying "The worth of a womanany womanshould not be determined by the length of her skirt, but by the dedication, knowledge and skills she brings to the task at hand."

Do people really believe that only those with skills and knowledge are of worth? I believe a worth of a person is in their humanity and can be detracted from by their conscious actions, but we all start on an equal footing in our worth.

alexpolismum · 01/06/2011 08:08

I also disagree with this statement "forced uncovering is also a tool of oppression"

I posted a lot about this on the burka threads that came out after the French burka ban. I believe that banning niqab/burka is for the good of society as a whole and is no more oppressive than a ban on total nudity, currently in force on our streets

Am posting and running now, sorry (have a physio appointment to get to) but will come back later.

Mamaz0n · 01/06/2011 09:21

Im not sure I know of any religion that requires the believer to walk around naked though.

I am aware that not all muslims feel they are required to wear the burka but there are a large number who do. To me it is oppressive in the same way it would be to stop a christian praying or forcing a sikh to remove his turban or making a jew cut his beard.

And i think you have misinterpreted the sentiment behind the statement about worth. It says "the task at hand" be that some major governmental meeting or helping a child in the park. Someone should be judged and valued by their actions, not their outfit.

OP posts:
LRDTheFeministDragon · 01/06/2011 09:54

But Mamazon, to be a bit pedantic, what about someone with Alzheimers, say, or a severe learning disability that means they aren't able to act or be self-aware about their actions? Those people still have worth, don't they? So I don't especially like that phrase either.

I'm uneasy about arguments that that anything is 'good for society as a whole', for similar reasons. It might be 'good' for society that the burka be banned, but if we start doing things for the good of society as a whole, where do we stop? Can of worms.

Riveninside · 01/06/2011 09:58

Isnt 'good for society' some sort of totalitarianism?

LRDTheFeministDragon · 01/06/2011 10:04

That's what I was trying to say! Thanks.

CoteDAzur · 01/06/2011 10:15

We already do things for the good of society. All of government is based on the understanding that such things are sometimes necessary.

You don't get to do everything your heart desires when you live in a society of other fellow humans.

This is why it is a good idea to live with people who broadly share your views. If you think women should be covered from head to toe and segregated from men, you might be more comfortable living with people who think along similar lines.

LRDTheFeministDragon · 01/06/2011 10:27

But the rhetoric 'it's for the good of society' is surely something to be wary of, given the way it's been used in the recent past? Government is a way of keeping power to an elite; the system formed first and the justification formed afterwards. It's not as if a group of people sat down and said 'how can we best rule ourselves for the common good' - they evolved a system then put a name on it. So I don't think that is good reasoning in this case.

Not mad keen on the idea of segregating out people who disagree - won't that just make the fight harder for people in that society if they do disagree?

CoteDAzur · 01/06/2011 10:34

If you don't like the term "good for society" use "laws and regulations".

The fact remains that elected officials decide what is good for the population in general and legislate accordingly. Thus you get taxes, schools, crimes and punishment, etc.

LRDTheFeministDragon · 01/06/2011 10:41

But they're totally different concepts, Cote.

'For the good of society' implies that this is a moral and ethical issue. Laws and regulations don't. I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of justifying anything because it's 'for the good of society' because that suggests you're sure your own standards of 'good' can be imposed over everyone else's, and historically this has been an excellent shortcut to oppression.

CoteDAzur · 01/06/2011 11:11

I don't understand your implication of moral judgement.

Re French burqa ban, for example, that law is not saying "your morals are wrong and ours is right". It is only saying "In this country you can't do this because we are not ok with the mentality that women should be hidden from view".

LRDTheFeministDragon · 01/06/2011 11:19

Justifying something as being 'for the good of the people' implies you're judging morality/ethics, not just pragmatics. That's what 'good' means, imo. That's why it bothers me.

CoteDAzur · 01/06/2011 11:41

Is this a semantics problem? I really don't understand what is bothering you.

Education is for the good of the society and so government funds schools. Roads and public transportation is also for the good of society, so the state provides these as well.

Where is the moral judgement?

CoteDAzur · 01/06/2011 11:42

is are also

CoteDAzur · 01/06/2011 11:50

I suppose, you could say that funding schools because education is good for society is a judgement on the morals of people who don't want to educate their children, but you would be "pulling the argument by its hair", as they say in French.

LRDTheFeministDragon · 01/06/2011 11:56

I don't think it's semantics. I think it's that justifying something and then enforcing it as law is a different kind of process from theorizing after the fact and concluding the system you live in is working for the good of the people. The things you mention - schools, public transport - didn't come about because someone said 'this is for the good of the people, we must do it', they came about because good roads and an educated workforce are things we need economically. They're justified afterwards as being 'good', and maintained in part because they're 'good', but that's not why they happened in the first place. THe only things I can think of that were justified before they were enforced as being 'good' are, unfortunately, things that happened in governments like Nazi Germany.

I may be getting this all wrong, I don't know. But I don't think my discomfort with that justification is just a semantic one, I think it is to do with underlying attitudes.

Riveninside · 01/06/2011 13:35

Probably best not to use france as an example, what with all the revelation of french males attitudes towards women.
I am astounded though at the sheer energy and column inches and palaver gi en to what muslim women wear!

alexpolismum · 01/06/2011 13:53

I come back to find that Cote has said what I would have said.

Yes, I do believe that some things are for the good of society as a whole. What is the problem with saying that? We agree that education is for the good of society as a whole, why is that not seen as totalitarian? It's also generally agreed that nudity on the streets is not acceptable, and this is for the good of society. Why should the burka, as the other extreme, be any different.

LRD - that's what I was also thinking of re worth. Some people have conditions which mean they are unable to perform tasks or perform conscious actions. My ds2 is unable to do much by himself - I do not think this causes him to have no worth.

"Someone should be judged and valued by their actions, not their outfit" No, I believe they should be valued for their humanity.

anastaisia · 01/06/2011 13:58

Also, the government funds schools because an educated population is good for the country Cote - that's different to actively banning something.

In most countries people then have the options to use that state funded provision or an alternative. Same with medical treatment, care provision, transport etc.

I'd say that to justify a ban of something you need to demonstrate active harm to individuals or groups, rather than being broadly 'good for society'. Which is a different argument surely? A veil may be a symbol of oppression in some cases, but the veil in and off itself isn't harmful is it? In which case I'd say that what should be banned and punished through the state's legal system is coercion being applied to women to force them to wear a veil or other symbolic clothing for (any) religious or cultural reasons.

If the argument is about security in public places and a need to identify people instead - I'm not sure what I think about that. I'm not really comfortable with such a need for monitoring people.

anastaisia · 01/06/2011 13:59

random 'Also,' thrown in at the start there - I think I was still thinking about a different message when I wrote that!

CoteDAzur · 01/06/2011 14:53

We did the hows and whys of the burqa ban in France to death on various other threads so I'm hesitant to go into it here. Suffice it to say that the government didn't have to search to "justify" it at all, as the vast majority of all French, including Muslims, supported it.

No, something doesn't have to be particularly harmful to people to be banned. It can just be very much against the mindset or way of life of the people living in that country.

CoteDAzur · 01/06/2011 14:56

Riven - I don't know what you are referring to re French men, but surely it is not so horrifying that from now on we should disregard whatever they do.

CoteDAzur · 01/06/2011 15:10

LRD - I will have to admit that I really don't understand what you are saying. You seem to be think that the state never does anything for general good of the population and only justifies what it does for sinister reasons with "it's for public good".

Riveninside · 01/06/2011 15:14

Talking about that blokey in the news regarding attempted rape of a maid in NYC. From the french papers its like sexual harrassment is not only no big deal but almost to be expected from men. Not that its much better here.
To be honest i find the amount of time devoted to what a few women choose to wear astonishing. If you dont like it, dont wear it or talk to a woman wearing it. Ta da.

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