“I don’t know what I don’t know” and “there are things that I know that I don’t know” take much humility to admit. Don’t worry, my claim of humility is not a self-righteous declaration but a true personal daily effort. It’s not easy to admit you don’t know something for fear of looking uneducated on a particular subject. But admitting it opens the door to true insight. True insight to the facts, to other perspectives, to cause and effect. Opening yourself up to knowledge though comes with first, admitting ignorance, and then displaying interest via inquiry. And in my book, that means asking a boatload of questions. So when I heard that France had banned the burkini…well, that set the Wheel of Questions in motion.
What was the burkini? Where did it come from? Who and why was it created? Why did an entire country ban an article of clothing? Was there a greater purpose for this ban? Who was being affected? Would the ban bring on positive change, and if so, for whom? Or would it bring on negative change? Did top officials take the time to ask these questions and if they did, who exactly did they ask? Were experts consulted to determine all possible outcomes? Did they ask the party that would feel the ban the most? Did they care to? Do society’s personal fears create blinders to the reality of the oppressed one’s daily life? Do the majority’s fears carry more weight than the minority’s freedom? Have you already picked a side? Do you personally know what’s best for these women? Is this truly providing a platform to empower women or just another way to victimize the “victim”? Most people reading this have probably already developed an opinion on the burkini, burka, hijab, naqib, al-amira, shayla, khimar, and chador without truly having the inner knowledge of each or the experience of walking in the users shoes.
Honestly and humbly, prior to this ban, I had never ventured to know more about the women in question. I never judged harshly, but what I did do was sympathize in silent ignorance, which in itself can create a biased understanding and give forth a discrimination toward the very same people you’re wishing better upon. Unfortunately, my daily routine between work and home has not equipped me with the opportunity to meet a woman who possesses this cultural or religious lifestyle as to receive personal one on one information. So, in an attempt to now gain some insight, I read articles written by women from both sides of the argument. Not the politicians side. The woman! The women!
I surmised that after “listening” to countless different perspectives, I’d find myself ready to make an absolute decision on where my loyalties would lie. Instead, I was now understanding bits and pieces of each argument and trying to apply them to what I knew was the bigger picture.
Here’s where I take issue with France’s edict… politicians are dictating what Muslim women shouldn’t wear on the grounds of teaching them that no one should dictate what they should wear. Ban the burkini, fine the few women donning the modified wet-suit, embarrass them publicly and perhaps this will compel the women to stand against the Muslim law and choose for themselves what to wear.
Oppress the oppressed! Religious freedom by ways of governmental constriction! A perfect example of constriction is the old-fashioned waist-cinching tool, the corset. Used by women since the 1500’s to acquire a desired appearance without understanding the extent of underlying damage to the user. Ironically, the corset was introduced to France by the wife of Kink Henry II himself. Even more ironically, Queen Catherine Medici, who held some influence in the political life in France, enforced a BAN of thick waists at court attendance during the 1550’s, making the corset a required necessity of law. Similarly today, French politicians seem to have shot from the hip, missing the target entirely. They enforce a secular appearance, losing sight of the damage they are causing the women they claim to protect. Just as the corset in the 1500’s compressed women’s lungs, crushed organs and fractured ribs, this century’s ban piles on an additional pressure that can leave women with less breathing room, possibly crushing their spirit and risk fracturing any possible progress they may have made to date.
Absurdity at it’s finest. Ethically wrong and morally questionable.
There is in fact another side of the coin though…and I readily admit that I can understand the need to pass a law to protect the people from attire that allows citizens to conceal their identity. How comfortable would you feel at a bank when suddenly a gentleman or two strolled in with their faces completely covered? You would instantly think bank heist and most likely make your way out the front door. If a person cannot be identified (see Niqab/Burka below), it increases the risk of the wrong people taking advantage of that freedom to commit acts they would normally think twice about if people could clearly see their face. And this should not change just because the person behind the concealed garment is believed to be a woman. Yes, women commit crimes as well.
But the burkini clearly does not fall under this category of safety issues based on concealment of identity, just as a wet-suit for a surfer or diver does not risk the safety of others. Don’t argue this… a wet suit IS just a tight burkini. Many divers and beach surfers use a head covering to keep their hair out of their faces…hence leaving only their faces, hands and feet exposed. Using the burkini as an excuse to deal with religious oppression and terrorist issues is on par with Trump’s idea that a wall between Mexico and the U.S. will solve our illegal immigration issues. Stupid ideas with no real solution to the bigger problems. Politicians dealing with a small can of worms because they are too afraid to open up Pandora’s box.
Someone once told me that opinions don’t mean anything if facts are involved. Although I can concede to that for most any argument, We The People better start opening the forum for suggestions, because the politicians seem to need our help. Let’s then start from the beginning. Politicians don’t know what they don’t know. But they need to start admitting that there are things they don’t know. And just like the rest of us, it may have behooved them for the sake of us all to have researched the issues, ask the right questions, get to know the people from all sides, and brainstorm a little longer for true solutions.
Go ahead and make it your priority to end terrorism, religious oppression as well as gender inequality, but go to the top, to the originator, to those in power. Pick on someone your own size and stop oppressing the already oppressed.
— The Pretty Platform