An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.
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Really not convinced that forced removal of religious/cultural symbols helps anyone...
I'm not trying to help any one. I'm trying to live in an environment where I'm not exposed to images of female degradation on every corner. As for control of poeple's form of attire, it exists in our society. Can you imagine what would happen if a professor showed up for class in a T-shirt featuring a swastika and a quote from Hitler?
You're right, every society controls the attire one can wear.It's just the burqa/niqab is a symbol of female oppression, and that's what makes it so fraught with negativity.I'm with you on wishing them to be gone, like all symbols of oppression.-Mike
That's what they mean to you, I understand. I'm just not sure how I feel, as I said, about external legal mandates about personal expression. I think if a professor showed up wearing a t-shirt with a swastika, there would be outrage and hopefully consequences. But making that illegal? That's not the direction we need to go -- freedom of speech is too important.If the burqa/niqab offends you (it doesn't offend me) shouldn't you be working to empower the women who wear them to stop wearing them? Working to change the systems from within the culture, rather than force-feeding your opinions onto them?Again, this is an issue of freedom of expression which is a part of freedom of speech. That which offends us most, I believe, is what we need to protect. I'm talking in terms of legality, here, not in terms of social rules. If there are places, private places, individual groups who want to not allow certain expressions that's totally fine. But government's involvement in legislating what dress is appropriate and what's inappropriate? That's problematic.
I go with Serenebabe here. Again Clarissa, you're going on a slippery slope if you advocate for laws to regulate what we wear in a society that prides itself on liberty and freedom of expression. That's just one step closer to the same oppressive system that produced those religious dresses in the first place.
"liberty and freedom of expression" He wrote on the blog of his colleague who is afraid to sign her name to her own blog for fear of negative repercussions for her career. :-)Let's conduct the following experiment, my friend. How about you come to work in your swimming trunks tomorrow. :-) How soon do you think the police will show up to explain to you that your freedom to wear whatever you want is very very limited in this country? :-)
I don't think the police would come. I think people might laugh, wonder if he was nuts, etc. If the police came it would be because they were concerned about someone's safety. Seriously.Take any one of your "but see, we already regulate what's proper" and ask yourself, is that because there's a *law* against it?Public nudity is an area where I expect boundaries would be pushed, but I'd be on the side of the person wanting to be naked in public (as their right to do it) and opposed to police forcing them to get dressed.If you really see the burqa or other coverings as degrading to women I'm curious to know, have you talked to the women who wear them? I am *not* defending the rightness of wearing coverings, by the way. I'm conflicted about that (as I've read women speak of feeling empowered and with the damage the Beauty Myth has done, I could see how being covered head to toe might really be freeing, sad as that commentary is). But, again, government legislating personal expressions? Should they also not allow confrontational art? Where would you draw the line? The person wearing a tee-shirt with an offensive slogan?We have to err on the side of too much freedom of speech if we're going to err.
KT and I work at an educational institution. I am pretty certain campus security will show up. But let's see, maybe he will agree to try it. :-) :-)"If you really see the burqa or other coverings as degrading to women I'm curious to know, have you talked to the women who wear them?"-I guess I'm not explaining myself right here. I don't care if it degrades them, that's not my business to decide. If they are degraded let them figure that out. I feel it degrades me. It's my rights I want to defend.
Protect yourself like this: look away. Organize citizens to make changes. When I said talk to the women, I didn't mean to "help them" but to explain yourself and how it affects you.Don't legislate.I don't know you well, but this view of yours seems wholly inconsistent with everything I've read you've written so far. It's baffling, frankly.
I lived in Montreal and I know where such one-sided tolerance leads. You start with niqabs and then you go outside and see a man leading a woman around on a leash. Like a dog. Then you come to teach you class and see a student covered from head to toe. How am I supposed to teach her if I have no way to verify who's sitting there? How do I know she didn't send a native speaker to take the exam for her? Then you have people petitioning the government to permit shariah court. then you have Muslim and Orthodox Jewish women petitioning the government to prohibit future fathers to accompany their pregnant partners to government-sponsored pregnancy classes. And so on and so forth. And in the meanwhile we are all sitting here trying to be "tolerant.""When I said talk to the women, I didn't mean to "help them" but to explain yourself and how it affects you."-Oh yeah, I tried that. the only response was that I'm a dirty whore and she is clean and godly.
It always comes back, I think, to the false dilemma of if we are liberal enough to allow those who tell you they want to be slaves, to be slaves -- or not.I personally don't believe anyone has the right to be a slave, even if they claim to want it, but then I guess I am not very tolerant. Kind of like Abraham Lincoln and such other intolerant people.-Mike
I could agree to come to work tomorrow in a burqa or what's the other one called. I know that if I insist that it's because of my religious convictions, I'll be let go. It's hard to talk about this without coming back to religious freedom and tolerance.A swimsuit is different. I might lose my job because of it. But I bet I won't if it's the basis of my religion. Which should make us grateful that there are no religions with nudity as part of their everyday ritual. I bet if there was one, we'd find a way to respect them as long as this is America.
"I could agree to come to work tomorrow in a burqa or what's the other one called. I know that if I insist that it's because of my religious convictions, I'll be let go. A swimsuit is different. I might lose my job because of it."-That's exactly what I'm saying, though. One is allowed and the other one isn't.As I can see, those who want to insist on burqa as part of religious freedom, can't answer why polygamy and female genital mutilation aren't legal. Why is stoning of women for adultery not legal? Of course, I only mean those women who "consent" to be stoned.
For me this isn't about what a burqa stands for but any personal expression of opinions or beliefs.If you see it as a symbol of oppression or slavery I absolutely understand wanting to not see it. I happen to fall into the "too liberal" camp so far about it (wimpy progressives: http://www.serenebabe.net/2010/08/islamophobia-and-wimpy-progressives.html). Again, for me it isn't about the head coverings.What I take issue with is the notion that we should have laws restricting these expressions.For me the best example is the swastika which is more universally known as a symbol of evil. I would fight for the right of someone to wear one if it were a legal issue. As a fellow citizen, though, I would likely take steps to be sure it was clear I won't stand for such obscenities. (In that case I might be scared to go it alone, so I might go to a group of activists to see what we might do, etc.)Clarissa (or whatever your name is ;-) -- do you think the burqa or other coverings should be illegal?How do you think they should be stopped?
"I personally don't believe anyone has the right to be a slave, even if they claim to want it, but then I guess I am not very tolerant. Kind of like Abraham Lincoln and such other intolerant people."-Thank you, Mike, I agree. There is a lot of fear and reluctance to have the courage of one's opinions behind this whole "tolerance" thing.
"Clarissa (or whatever your name is ;-) -- do you think the burqa or other coverings should be illegal?"-I think if absence of burqas is achieved through the public consensus like the one you describe, I will be very happy. That's what I'm trying to do with all these posts. I want to break the code of silence surrounding these issues among my fellow Liberals. I want to start a conversations where these things are discussed and disputed, not shushed down because it's "intolerant" to raise the subject.Judging by the number of comments these posts received, I think I've been successful in this goal. :-)
Hope you'll check out my blog post, then. :-)
I suspect that a literature professor wearing a bikini to a class to make a point about a particular work being studied would be acceptable as a way to get student attention. It would probably would not be acceptable every day, but once in a semester. I have been known to do a double pirouette in a math class for a similar purpose; it seems to me to be a similar situation.To be on the safe side, it would probably be better to wait until one has tenure, howeveer.
I was fired once from a language school for "dressing inappropriately." The only thing inappropriate about my clothes was that wore short-sleeved blouses in an insanely hot Montreal summer. Everything else was completely covered up. So it makes me laugh when people start telling me about the freedom to wear whatever one wants in North America.
Mike said: "I personally don't believe anyone has the right to be a slave, even if they claim to want it, but then I guess I am not very tolerant. Kind of like Abraham Lincoln and such other intolerant people."What's wrong with that comparison is that Abraham Lincoln and other "intolerant" people of his kind did not FORCE people be to free. He only fought for their right to be and left the rest for them to decide. After slavery was disbanded, if many black families decided to remain with their slave masters because of whatever insane reason of attachment or obligation (as did a few), the state can not assume the right to forcibly set them free of that without crossing the lines of propriety. My point is that you can only defend people's freedom of expression. You can not forcibly impose it on them after such freedom is guaranteed.
PersonwhoIthinkofasClarissa,There is a very big difference between freedom of expression being legal (free speech a very well protected right) and the personal price we pay for such personal expressions.For example, if you chose to fight that dismissal because you felt your clothes were appropriate I would defend you. I mean, I'm not an attorney, so I couldn't, but I'd help you if you asked me to share about it on my blog or whatever I could do...Personal consequences happen and sometimes it crosses a line and must be tested in the courts to be sure it's not something that ought to be protected, if that makes sense.Laugh all you want, but I think you're missing my point (if that's where you're laughing). Of course there are social rules about clothing. But there shouldn't be laws prohibiting those choices. And if someone's social price they pay is too high, they should bring it to the court system and get that right protected. I'm rambling for a variety of reasons and will stop typing now.
"PersonwhoIthinkofasClarissa"-At first I thought you spoke a language I don't know. :-) Sounds kind of tortured. :-)I'm not laughing at what you say. As I said, I don't care how this is achieved, as long as it's achieved I'm fine. The daily discrimination based on clothing choices does happen (my sister is a megasuccessful recruiter, so I know a lot about this.) The problem is that very very rarely are people told directly why they weren't called back for the second interview. Obviously, a person in a burqa is extremely likely to face this kind discrimination and never evn know what she was rejected for a job because everybody is terrified of broaching the subject. How are burqa-clad women supposed even to know that it bothers many people to see them in this garb? At least, I'm broaching the subject honestly and directly. I'm not lobbying for any legislation mind you. I'm just trying to open a discussion.
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