Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Students on Burqas

I asked my students to read an article from the Spanish newspaper El Pais on the planned prohibition of wearing burqas in public spaces in Spain and express their opinions. I have already mentioned on various occasions that here in the Bible Belt most of my students are ultra-conservative. When they had to compose sentences with the word "government", for example, I got tired of reading the obsessive "Government is bad" statement that I got from the majority of them. When I asked them during an oral exam to elaborate on their political opinions, there was little they could say except "Abortion is wrong, government is too big."

In the burqa debate, every single one of these ultra-conservative students is adamantly opposed to any limitations being imposed on burqa-wearers. So those who believe that defending burqas should be part of the feminist agenda must remember that they will have full support of the most retrograde parts of the population. Two of the students argued that burqas are good because they protect female modesty. As we can see, burqas have full support of those who want to see women permanently controlled, bound, covered up, and hidden from view.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

That makes sense about the conservative students supporting the burqa -- if the evangelicals could get away with forcing women to cover themselves and retreat from society, they'd do it in a heartbeat.

I don't support the freedom to be a slave, so even though I realize burqa bans will do some harm, in principle I am behind them with reservations aplenty.


-Mike

JS said...

Yikes. But couldn't that extend from their "government interference is bad" line of thinking, too?

It reminds me of the controversy with planting crosses in public spaces. I'd guess most of your students support that along similar lines.

I think they're different issues, but I could see the use of "religious expression" being used by Bible Belters (?) to defend both.

eric said...

The whole "small government" trope is a euphemism for "let's return to a time when local thugs and the Church managed everyone's lives, women were birthing machines, and the central govenment (king) really only had the power to raise an army in times of crisis." I wish progressive politicians and pundits would spend more time calling conservatives out on this, rather than simply arguing "au contraire, more government is better," which is really arguing on the conservatives' own terms.

So even though Bible Belters despise and fear Islam, they agree with its most extreme practitioners that we should all return to the Middle Ages.

Clarissa said...

"So even though Bible Belters despise and fear Islam, they agree with its most extreme practitioners that we should all return to the Middle Ages. "

-Very rtue. Did you read Marcos Moulitsa's recent book American Taliban where he argues this very point?

eric said...

I've got to get to my local library soon! Marcos was on Bill Maher a while back, and Maher was trying to distance himself from the book, in an uncharacteristic display of a lack of gumption--I suspect Moulitsas writes what everyone is thinking (we liberals, anyway).

sptc said...

"The whole 'small government' trope is a euphemism for 'let's return to a time when local thugs and the Church managed everyone's lives'"

--this is brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Hey, sorry that this comment is rather belated. I just found this blog from your link at Feministe. Just wondering, would you characterize burqas as hate speech against women? What other arguments would you generally make for banning them? (as opposed to why they are bad, which is a rather easy argument to make).

Clarissa said...

Dear Anon: we have had many discussions on burqas and niqabs on this blog. Here are some of them:

http://clarissasbox.blogspot.com/2010/10/french-woman-tears-niqab-from-tourists.html

http://clarissasbox.blogspot.com/2010/10/clothing-choices-and-tolerance.html

http://clarissasbox.blogspot.com/2009/06/burqa.html

mikie kerr said...

I am just now researching where I can get mail order burqas in case the TSA exempts Muslim women from both the full body scan and the enhanced pat-down which Janet N in her infinite wisdom is considering.

Have your students read Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, then have the discussion again.

Aloha, Mikie
http://www.GetOffYourButts.net