Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hillary Clinton Supports the Ban on Burqas

It's great to see that Hillary Clinton is using her position as Secretary of State to promote women's rights:
Asked what was the greatest international challenge facing people aged 21 and under, Mrs Clinton, the third woman to serve as US Secretary of State, said in large swathes of the world the lot of women had not improved as it had in Australia and the US. ''I think that there's very clear evidence … that societies that do not expand opportunities for women are societies that are more prone to authoritarianism, more prone to extremism, less likely to develop, more likely to be left out of the 21st century's opportunities,'' she said.
Seeing how great Clinton is doing as Secretary of State, I can't help but wonder what things would be like if we had elected her in 2008. I know that wondering "what if" in what concerns history is a huge intellectual faux pas, but still. . . A feminist as President of the United States would be a great development.


Joe S. said...

I think banning the burqa outright amounts more to culture killing than promotion of women's rights.

Making it easier for women to choose whether or not they want to wear it is something else.

Saba Mahmood argues that our Western take on issues in other cultures can miss the point when we translate everything into "free" or "not free."

JMP said...

I really don't think banning burqas is feminist, anymore than (to paraphrase Alain Badiou's comment on this matter) throwing a rape victim in prison is "feminist."

I know that a lot of third-world, non-white feminists would take issue with this (and these are secularists who do not wear the burqa themselves), seeing it as Islamophobic more than anything else.

I also have friends/comrades of Muslim background - many of whom are queer women - who are currently involved in struggles against burqa/neqab banning in Canada for reasons *of* feminism. Why should states pass legislation on the female body? It becomes even more terrifying when we consider that Bill 94 in Quebec was designed so that women who wear the neqab are being isolated and denied social services.

JS said...


Girls in France are being kept out of school for wearing the burqa. I don't see how that forwards a feminist cause.

A woman I know said that while a lot of non-Western communities do not share or understand our feminist values, they could be helped in "progressing" or "catching up" to our (ostensibly) more advanced values. I find such viewpoints dangerously ethnocentric.

Clarissa said...

Dear readers: I have already written about the burqa issue more times than I remember and I can't deal with rewriting all that stuff. If you are interested, please read the following posts: