Banning the Veil, Loving the Face?

On Tuesday July 13, a day before Bastille Day, the French assembly voted to ban the full-face veil in France. The vote fell in step with similar bans being considered or enacted in other EU countries, such as Germany, Spain and Belgium. A Pew survey released days earlier showed that nearly 82 percent of French people supported the ban, which was reflected in the 336-1 vote in favor of it. The bill will now proceed to the French Senate in September, where it is expected to be approved.

The veil debate has been an ongoing issue in France, falling as it does at the interstices of French identity, feminism and multiculturalism. In a recent letter from Paris, a friend described how a grade school had dealt with the issue by refusing to allow veiled women to collect their kids at the end of the day. Women appearing veiled to pick up their children were simply told that their children would not be released to them if they appeared at the door covered. In some cases, the friend reported, this had discouraged women from wearing the full veil; in others, more fathers had suddenly found themselves on pick-up duty.

Interestingly, these veil debates are not relegated to the face veil issue alone. Waiting at a bank in Paris, the same friend witnessed a scene where the cashier refused to buzz in a black man because he was wearing a baseball cap and she could not see his face. He had to remove it to be allowed to enter and be served.

So from banks to grade schools to Parliament, the French have spoken loud and clear: They love the face and must see it. It is also unsurprising that they have chosen a decidedly philosophical basis for explaining their affinity for faces. Parisian cafes are resonant with vehement exclamations about “dissimulating the face,” referring to Jean Baudrillard’s social critique of post-modern life as inherently disconnected from the actual and authentic. Covering up your face with a full-face veil is a simulation, the pretense of an identity but one that prevents the onlooker from actually discerning it. In banning the face veil, the French argue, they are preventing Muslim women from posturing as individual citizens with singular identities without giving the onlooker the basis to interact with them at that level. Covered up, they are anonymous, observing and perceiving, pretending to exist but without being observed. Therefore, they create a precipitous imbalance of knowledge and power between them and their interlocutors. Baseball caps and full-face veils must be taken off in order to protect the parity of interaction.

For feminists digesting the veil ban, the question is complex. It is repugnant to consider hiding the female face as something that could ever be empowering to women. Hiding something so integral to selfhood comes close to ratifying the idea that the female form is singularly sexual and that hiding is an essential signifier of sexual purity. It is also true that in embracing the anonymity of the full-face veil, women are electing to be part of a visible collective that elides the boundaries between their individual identities as women and their collective allegiance to conservative Islam. Such a disavowal of individuality could be unproblematic if it could be proven that every woman wearing the full-face veil freely chooses it–a task that has so far proven to be difficult if not impossible.

Yet, ironically, the same philosophical basis for the French objection to “dissimulating the face” can be used to defend face veiling as a potentially feminist satire on French concepts of female beauty. In shrouding themselves, French Muslim women are engaging in a Baudrillardian pantomime that satirizes ideals of beauty that do not include their brown-skinned, henna-tattooed, curvaceous, immigrant selves. The shabby black shrouds become a crude revolt against the exclusionary sophistication of French haute couture and its accompanying ethnocentric depictions of the French female ideal. In visible opposition to these concepts of French femininity, shrouded women question their “reality” by refusing to participate visually in French culture–being “there” and “not there” at the same time.  With “French” beauty consistently constructed to exclude migrant identities and notions of beauty, perhaps a visible simulation of exclusion is necessary to start a debate on the question of whether all Frenchwomen’s faces are equally beloved.

Above image of veiled women from Flickr user Wolfiewolf under Creative Commons 3.0


  1. Rafia, many women who wears burqa in France are ethnic white french who converted to Islam, and many of them who are opposed are non-whites women (and men) who are serious in their feminism and in their struggle for secular democracy.
    Take for example the group Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores nor Submissives).
    Do I have to remind you that only women but not men wear burqa? If it’s not sexist please tell me what it is, for heaven sake!
    There is no racism playing around, state and society are jusk asking people to make their faces visible, and I can’t see where is the problem about it. They are not saying “only white faces”, just faces.
    I would expect more from a feminist blog but I sadly see the evil forces of cultural relativism still undermine serious work for women’s equality.
    I celebrated with joy and relief the anti-burqa law and I pray this will become law as soon as possible and that other european countries will follow as soon as possible.
    By the way I am also celebrating gay marriage in Argentina and the Church of England claring the way for women bishops.
    And, by the way, Neither Whores nor Submissives are an anti-racist, feminist, secular and pro-choice group.
    These women should be celebrated as feminist heroes and not silenced as you did in your post. (you did not even mention the group exist). Same goes for leftist politicians who voted in favour of the anti-burqa law.
    I hope one day feminists will finally get rid of cultural relativism.
    I dream.

  2. Shae Savoy says:

    Thanks for this piece!

    All of the complexities aside (and there are complexities–the racism and anti-Islam taint of this law being particularly repugnant), the bottom line for me is that the Parliament has the audacity to pass laws about women’s bodies and how they choose to cover (or not cover) them. It’s that simple.

    It’s paternalistic to pass female-specific laws, “for their own good,” especially when they actually disempower women. Who am I to say what is right or wrong about another woman’s choices? Particularly if that woman inhabits a culture I know little about? How do women in France feel about this?

    I am a hardcore radical feminist, and I respect women’s choices and will stand by them. If a liberation movement is stirring regarding the burqa, I trust that those women within that culture will lead it, and I will proudly stand as their ally.

  3. Sumitra says:

    The blog piece is interesting. But my sympathies are with Gianni’s excellent comment. Cultural relativism is indeed the bane of global feminism. I think we should stand up for some rock bottom freedoms like a woman’s presence in the public space as a full-fledged individual. Secular societies require them to appear as visible and equal to others, male and female. If conservative Muslim women want to show religious solidarity, I assume they are free to do so in their homes and mosques. I am not sure if they have to be segregated while praying, but that is a religious choice they can make.

    Veiling themselves completely is by no means absolutely necessary to reject the Western standards of beauty. When social interactions increase and are not subverted by cultural practices like forced isolation, you will be surprised how ideas about what is beautiful can change subtly and lastingly.

  4. Tom Vitale says:

    I agree wholly with Gianni above.

  5. Tom Vitale says:

    No I don’t not “wholly”. There is a place for cultural relativism, although that place is small when it comes to violating Woman’s rights to freedom and self determination and control of her own body,being,life.

  6. Frankly, I can’t understand why any woman would want to be in a religion that so relegates her to submission. I remember many decades ago, reading Malcolm X’s book (The Autobiography of Malcolm X) and although I applauded his quest for peace and humanity, I couldn’t understand why his wife or any woman would want to be in a religion that so damns them to such subservience. Of course, that’s true for many religions, but at least women don’t have to cover ourselves in black as if ashamed of being born and alive! Oh well, I don’t believe in any religion, so it all seems ridiculous to me! Of course, you have to uncover your face to identify yourself, especially when picking up your kids from school. Doesn’t take a genuis to figure that out.

  7. Kevin A Vandriel says:

    How are they going to enforce this ban and at what point will that religious sector revolt against being singled out like the Jews in Europe or American Japanese during WWII? Is this treating a symptom or the cause? What happened to libertarian views? Isn’t this tradition thousands of years old? Are the women who wear it asking for this? Could this lead to reprisals from husbands and families? Does France have the right to enforce it’s customs by laws? Does being “seen” really mean that much? Will that, alone, restore the rights of women who are forced to wear it? What if you’re ugly in a grotesque way and need it? And, finally, what about the surgical masks worn by those fools afraid of everything? Lump them in.

  8. dianne adkinson says:

    Shae Savoy, you keep talking about the “choice” of Muslim women to wear the burqa. I suspect many of them would glady forgo that “choice” if they could. Who really wants to walk around with only tiny slits for your eyes? How much male violence underpins this “choice”? (Let’s not forget those extremist taliban, muslim men, who tortured women caught w/o having exercised their “choice” to be covered?)

    In my zoomba class at a women’s gym (A man shows up very rarely), occasionally we see women covered from head to toe, wearing scarves, particapating in the class. Zoomba is strenuous and sweaty! Who on earth would choose to cover themselves head to toe while exercising for an hour! The rest of us are wearing as little as decency allows! Brain washing.

    The French ban is not about religion. It’s about the fact tha muslim men consider women to be chattel, their property, who must be hidden from other male eyes.

    I hope to gawd I never see these women covered head-to-toe with eye slits in the good old USA!

    • Sadly, I do see it. I am Muslim and think it is awful for women to be forced to cover this way, since it is NOT in the religion to do is a cultural more and one that should stay in a culture that accepts it. Plus, all 3 monotheistic religions view women in part as chattel, and amazingly Islam is one of the view that gives women a multitude of rights..if you read the texts and ignore cultures which say they practice a certain relgion while in truth do not.

  9. Comtessa says:

    The veil is an affront to all women!
    It is also part of the Patriarchal religions to dominate women and their sexuality..Remember, Eve is the one who tempted Adam because that imbecile could not think for himself.
    Why would a so-called God create two different beings and in such a way that their bodies would be fit in such a way that they could not reproduce without sex?
    It is all contradictory and makes absolutely no sense!
    The concept of a Patriarchal God who controls everything especially women is the best marketing ploy ever conceived and bought by millions of idiotic humans!

  10. d julien says:

    I think many here are missing the point. I have not much respect for a subculture that demands that women hide their bodies BUT I do not think the state has the right to make it illegal! There are many customs of many groups that I and many others find distasteful, oppressive, paternalistic, etc. But we do not criminalize it. We can speak out against it and discuss it but to criminalize a mode of religious dress is going too far. Reminds me of the Chinese under Mao who all had to wear the same boring uniforms….

  11. Comtessa says:

    Oh and by the way, today these women demand the freedom to wear the Burka and tomorrow they makes us all wear it, because their husbands look at us now..
    I have seen it when we lived in the Middle East when I was younger.

  12. I took an overall look at the comments and had to wonder.

    What’s wrong with a woman choosing to cover up entirely in black? Why is it always assumed that she was forced to do so? That some evil man is behind it? Is there some international statistic that shows evidence of such? I actually know a number of cases where the woman chose to cover even though their husbands and father are against it and have prevented the women from covering. If you ask me, that’s not ok.

    If the burqa, as some of you have concluded, contributes to female empowerment, then how do you explain why many non-Muslim women lead miserable lives, have eating disorders, live with their abusers and feel stuck in their lives? Or is this another form of female empowerment. My point is: just because a woman covers her face doesn’t mean she feel less empowered. a woman can choose to cover her face and still agree to gay marriages and is pro-choice.. these are all separate issues.

    I have met amazing and strong women, who said no to their abusive husbands, stand up to any person and are extremely successful in their jobs. Yet, these women are not enough. Not by men but by women who night and day claim feminism. they will not acknowledge their existence because they cover their faces. the fact that they have a choice will not be counted, because to “feminists” this is an “anti-feminist” choice and attire.
    Such a shame!!

    For those of you screamed of job because of the burqa ban, have you thought of why might happen to these women (and migrant men)? This might alienate women. It will make women decide to stop their education and work and be confided to their own homes. Under the mercy of man to take care of herMen who force “their” women to cover will become more hostile and will suffocate the women even more than before. Great. More uneducated migrants who refuse to assimilate. (though I do believe that migrants who don’t make the effort to somewhat assimilate into the culture should go back o where they came from)
    There are many reasons why women cover their faces: some are forced to do so, some are doing to retaliate, as a form of protest …etc. Some do it because they simply feel it’s a religious requirement. Some prefer to die over showing their faces.
    Universal feminism! Why do I feel like I either have to adherent to man’s rules or feminist rules but I can’t have a mind of my own to be able to decide for myself Besides, its “universal vs. cultural relativism” very much debated?

    FYI, I am neither a niqabi or a hijabi.. I am simply pro-choice, which to me, is a feminist attitude.

  13. I’m in sync with cultural relativism until it comes to harming someone. The intent behind the burqa is not religious (nothing in the Koran about covering anything but breasts). The intent is to limit women’s power and autonomy.

    • ahlus-sunnah-wal jam'ah says:

      Listen, you can’t say “The intent behind the burqa is not religious (nothing in the Koran about covering anything but breasts). The intent is to limit women’s power and autonomy” when you obviously have no evidence. So here is the evidence maybe you’ll change your mind after this. As a matter of fact, our Muslim women are honored and are held in a higher status than these Western women who feel insecure about their beauty and jumping from man-to-man and code it as “love”. Let us be honest with our selves and learn to respect your self and stop trying to drag our women into your “free” and false ideas about “individualism” that obviously hasn’t worked for you non-veil/hijab wearing women.

      Praise be to Allaah.

      Verses that have to do with hijab:

      1 – Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

      “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands or one eye or dress like veil, gloves, headcover, apron), and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of feminine sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allaah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful”

      [al-Noor 24:31]

      2 – Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

      “And as for women past childbearing who do not expect wedlock, it is no sin on them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show their adornment. But to refrain (i.e. not to discard their outer clothing) is better for them. And Allaah is All‑Hearer, All‑Knower”

      [al-Noor 24:60]

      “Women past childbearing” are those who no longer menstruate, so they can no longer get pregnant or bear children.

      We shall see below the words of Hafsah bint Sireen and the way in which she interpreted this verse.

      3 – Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

      “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allaah is Ever Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful”

      [al-Ahzaab 33:59]

      4 – Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

      “O you who believe! Enter not the Prophet’s houses, unless permission is given to you for a meal, (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation. But when you are invited, enter, and when you have taken your meal, disperse without sitting for a talk. Verily, such (behaviour) annoys the Prophet, and he is shy of (asking) you (to go); but Allaah is not shy of (telling you) the truth. And when you ask (his wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and for their hearts. And it is not (right) for you that you should annoy Allaah’s Messenger, nor that you should ever marry his wives after him (his death). Verily, with Allaah that shall be an enormity”

      [al-Ahzaab 33:53]

      With regard to the Ahaadeeth:

      1 – It was narrated from Safiyyah bint Shaybah that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) used to say: When these words were revealed – “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)” – they took their izaars (a kind of garment) and tore them from the edges and covered their faces with them.

      Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4481. The following version was narrated by Abu Dawood (4102):

      May Allaah have mercy on the Muhaajir women. When Allaah revealed the words “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)”, they tore the thickest of their aprons (a kind of garment) and covered their faces with them.

      Shaykh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shanqeeti (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

      This hadeeth clearly states that what the Sahaabi women mentioned here understood from this verse – “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)” – was that they were to cover their faces, and that they tore their garments and covered their faces with them, in obedience to the command of Allaah in the verse where He said “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)” which meant covering their faces. Thus the fair-minded person will understand that woman’s observing hijab and covering her face in front of men is established in the saheeh Sunnah that explains the Book of Allaah. ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) praised those women for hastening to follow the command of Allaah given in His Book. It is known that their understanding of the words “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)” as meaning covering the face came from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), because he was there and they asked him about everything that they did not understand about their religion. And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

      “And We have also sent down unto you (O Muhammad) the Dhikr [reminder and the advice (i.e. the Qur’aan)], that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them, and that they may give thought”

      [al-Nahl 16:44]

      Ibn Hajar said in Fath al-Baari: There is a report of Ibn Abi Haatim via ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Uthmaan ibn Khaytham from Safiyyah that explains that. This report says: We mentioned the women of Quraysh and their virtues in the presence of ‘Aa’ishah and she said: “The women of Quraysh are good, but by Allaah I have never seen any better than the women of the Ansaar, or any who believed the Book of Allaah more strongly or had more faith in the Revelation. When Soorat al-Noor was revealed – “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)” – their menfolk came to them and recited to them what had been revealed, and there was not one woman among them who did not go to her apron, and the following morning they prayed wrapped up as if there were crows on their heads. It was also narrated clearly in the report of al-Bukhaari narrated above, where we see ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), who was so knowledgeable and pious, praising them in this manner and stating that she had never seen any women who believed the Book of Allaah more strongly or had more faith in the Revelation. This clearly indicates that they understood from this verse – “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)” – that it was obligatory to cover their faces and that this stemmed from their belief in the Book of Allaah and their faith in the Revelation. It also indicates that women’s observing hijab in front of men and covering their faces is an act of belief in the Book of Allaah and faith in the Revelation. It is very strange indeed that some of those who claim to have knowledge say that there is nothing in the Qur’aan or Sunnah that says that women have to cover their faces in front of non-mahram men, even though the Sahaabi women did that in obedience to the command of Allaah in His Book, out of faith in the Revelation, and that this meaning is also firmly entrenched in the Sunnah, as in the report from al-Bukhaari quoted above. This is among the strongest evidence that all Muslim women are obliged to observe hijab.

      Adwa’ al-Bayaan, 6/594-595.

      2 – It was narrated from ‘Aa’ishah that the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to go out at night to al-Manaasi’ (well known places in the direction of al-Baqee’) to relieve themselves and ‘Umar used to say to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “Let your wives be veiled.” But the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not do that. Then one night Sawdah bint Zam’ah, the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), went out at ‘Isha’ time and she was a tall woman. ‘Umar called out to her: “We have recognized you, O Sawdah!” hoping that hijab would be revealed, then Allaah revealed the verse of hijab.

      Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 146; Muslim, 2170.

      3 – It was narrated from Ibn Shihaab that Anas said: I am the most knowledgeable of people about hijab. Ubayy ibn Ka’b used to ask me about it. When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) married Zaynab bint Jahsh, whom he married in Madeenah, he invited the people to a meal after the sun had risen. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) sat down and some men sat around him after the people had left, until the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stood up and walked a while, and I walked with him, until he reached the door of ‘Aa’ishah’s apartment. Then he thought that they had left so he went back and I went back with him, and they were still sitting there. He went back again, and I went with him, until he reached the door of ‘Aa’ishah’s apartment, then he came back and I came back with him, and they had left. Then he drew a curtain between me and him, and the verse of hijab was revealed.

      Al-Bukhaari, 5149; Muslim, 1428.

      4 – It was narrated from ‘Urwah that ‘Aa’ishah said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to pray Fajr and the believing women would attend (the prayer) with him, wrapped in their aprons, then they would go back to their houses and no one would recognize them.

      Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 365; Muslim, 645.

      5 – It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: “The riders used to pass by us when we were with the Messenger of Allaah (S) in ihraam, and when they drew near to us we would lower our jilbabs from our heads over our faces, then when they had passed we would uncover them again.

      Narrated by Abu Dawood, 1833; Ibn Maajah, 2935; classed as saheeh by Ibn Khuzaymah (4,203) and by al-Albaani in Kitaab Jilbaab al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah.

      6 – It was narrated that Asma’ bint Abi Bakr said: We used to cover our faces in front of men.

      Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah, 4/203; al-Haakim, 1/624. He classed it as saheeh and al-Dhahabi agreed with him. It was also classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Jilbaab al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah.

      7 – It was narrated that ‘Aasim al-Ahwaal said: We used to enter upon Hafsah bint Sireen who had put her jilbab thus and covered her face with it, and we would say to her: May Allaah have mercy on you. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And as for women past childbearing who do not expect wedlock, it is no sin on them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show their adornment” [al-Noor 24:60]. And she would say to us: What comes after that? We would say: “But to refrain (i.e. not to discard their outer clothing) is better for them”. And she would say: That is confirming the idea of hijab.

      Narrated by al-Bayhaqi, 7/93.

      For more information please see Question no. 6991.

      And Allaah knows best.

  14. I feel as if this ban will not actually accomplish anything in the way of women’s liberation. From what I’ve read elsewhere, the grounds for the ban aren’t so much philosophical, but for reasons of security. It’s not, “let us see your face so we can all interact and be connected” but “let us see your face so I can tell you are the person you are supposed to be and not an imposter.” I guess the two could be taken to be similar, but the first is about connection and the second about practicality. It’s like going to a grocery store that’s well-lit so you can tell the difference between the red and green grapes. You want to be able to see the grapes so you can identify them, not establish some sort of affinity with them. But when the identification involves issues more important and complex than shopping for produce, it’s not as easy to provide a quick fix, like adding another light source, or in this case, banning something you don’t like even if a person’s religion and culture may require it of them. All I smell is further inconvienence for Muslim women.

    I feel like sexism as a whole within the Islamic culture is a feminist issue and only addressing one manifestation of that sexism (in the form of a BAN) isn’t going to do much except maybe lull some people into a sense of complacency. “Women don’t have to wear veils, all is well in the world, we can get back to business now that we’ve liberated the women.” And that’s another one of my problems with this ban: people who are not the women are doing the “liberating,” ie: deciding what they think is right for all women and then thrusting that view upon the women they know little about. If Muslim women stop wearing veils, it needs to be because something inside them told them to stop and because their immediate environment is a place where this can happen.

  15. So if a woman has a scarred or disfigured face she must show it?
    Or if she is shy? Why must anyone show her or his face to others, except for ID purposes? What about makeup? Wigs?
    I wish women to be free and empowered but I don’t think forcing them to unveil is the way.

  16. Anonymous says:

    First of all, it is ironic that many of you automatically conclude that Muslim women cover themselves because their husband or father “force” them to (without proof I might add), yet it is alright for the French government to “force” these women not to cover themselves? What if a women genuinely wants to cover themselves up without anyone forcing them to? Yeah, you all are hypocrites.

    But, regardless of your opinion on this law the more alarming thing is that the French government is making religious decisions for all their citizens – and the majority of you don’t see a problem with that? How would you feel if they banned you from reading the Bible? I’m guessing their would be a huge outcry, but since the law deals with a religion and culture that many of you know little about it is alright for the government to do this?

    Yeah, alright. It’s always funny hearing people criticize and accuse all Muslims of being terrorists or radicals, yet in saying so you are displaying the same mental attitude and behavior that you supposedly despise.

  17. i’m concerned about the muslim women who will not go out in public without the veil, either because of their own beliefs/customs or their obedience to a family member. faced with this type of ban, how many of these women will choose or be forced to stay out of public places, to not leave their homes?

  18. grrrlygrl says:

    <"It is repugnant to consider hiding the female face as something that could ever be empowering to women. Hiding something so integral to selfhood comes close to ratifying the idea that the female form is singularly sexual and that hiding is an essential signifier of sexual purity.">

    I agree with the above statement, but is banning the burqa the best way to fix this problem? My criticism stems from the inherent patriarchy and colonialism within the French Parliament. Telling women to rebel against their tradition implies that they are not already doing so. It also takes away the power and symbolic importance of the action if they DO decide to remove their burqas.

    On a different note, the ban also indicates that non-Western traditions are wrong and that it is the West's burden to "fix" these beliefs. Moreover, the ban implies that France has no misogyny or oppression- it is in a position to look down upon other belief systems and pass judgement rather than focusing on its own faults.

    For both of these reasons, banning the burqa was a very philosophically dangerous move on France's part. Of course we would love for women to embrace their bodies and their individuality- but imposing such beliefs is not the way to bring about change. It would have been much better for the Parliament to take an intersectional approach to this problem, and actually talk with the women to wear the burqa to determine the best way to help "liberate" them.

  19. Especially insightful concepts…would you explain a touch more? I’d like to go over some of this post in my Ph. D thesis… Click here

  20. sudhanshu, Why is his opinion important when you hate the movie already?


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ms. Magazine, Pamela Scully. Pamela Scully said: Thoughtful post on the French ban: Banning the Veil, Loving the Face? : Ms Magazine Blog: […]

Speak Your Mind


Error, no Ad ID set! Check your syntax!