Burqa bans, redux.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has been reported as having said that wearing a burqa can be empowering, which hasn’t won her many fans.
The remarks by Caroline Spelman, who as Environment Secretary is the second most powerful woman in the Cabinet, were described as “moronic” and “bizarre”. She is also likely to face anger from backbench Tory MPs, some of whom have called for the wearing of burkas to be banned outside the private home.
Oh, great. A bunch of backbench fucktards who think that letting people make fewer choices for themselves increases their freedom. What wonderful quality the Tory party have managed to recruit.
Critics of the ban have argued that while they do not like to see women covering their faces, particularly if forced to do so by male relatives, legislation is heavy-handed and contrary to the principle of freedom of expression.
Quite. Write it down a cricket bat and twat those backbench Tories across the eyes with it.
But Mrs Spelman suggested that wearing the burka could be seen as a feminist statement.
She claimed that a visit to Afghanistan had persuaded her that “the burka confers dignity”.
Oh dear. No, Caroline, I’m not sure it does, and I’m not sure you get it. Wearing one doesn’t give a woman dignity, which is somewhat subjective anyway, and is not a feminist statement. However, a woman telling the government to fuck off and mind its own business because she’s capable of deciding for herself can be, though it’s important not to confuse that independence of thought with simply dressing up like a cross between Demis Roussos and a Ninja.
“I’ve been out to Afghanistan and I think I understand much better as a result … why a lot of Muslim women want to wear the burka.”
Oh, this is going to be good.
“For them, the burka confers dignity, it’s their choice, they choose to go out dressed in a burka.”
Some, perhaps, but I suspect we’re hiding from something here, aren’t we, Caroline? Many of them want to wear it because they’ll get the shit kicked out of them, or worse, if they don’t. I’m all for women who genuinely want to put the bloody thing on being free to do so, but let’s not fucking kid ourselves.
Still, I’ll give her this, she’s not a complete fucking idiot.
“I understand that it is a different culture from mine but the fact is in this country women want to be free to choose … whether or not to go out in the morning wearing a burka.”
I’m not sure if by “this country” she was referring to the UK but I’m going to assume she is, and if so she’s at least got this right. Women do want to be able to choose, and most will choose not to wear it. Banning it might help a few, always assuming the men in their families don’t simply keep them inside, but, as I’ve blogged before, what it will certainly do is take the freedom of choice away from all women. That, I’m afraid, makes the state no better than the misogynists who’d prefer women to be veiled in case the sight of a female face makes them overcome with the need for a wank or whatever it is they’re worried about.
And then along comes Nigel Farage, echoing the backbench Tories.
But Nigel Farage, the former leader of the UK Independent Party, said: “Wearing a burka seriously diminishes a woman’s life chances in 21st century Britain – to describe it as somehow empowering is simply moronic.
“It was a thoroughly extraordinary and deeply ignorant comment for Caroline Spelman, a Government minister, to make.”
Again, and in words of as few syllables as I can, you can’t increase freedom by
legislating making laws to ban things. Bans always mean less freedom, not more. Why is it so hard to get this across? Why do intelligent people who oppose the smoking ban on the very reasonable grounds that responsible adults should be allowed to choose find it so difficult to apply the same rationale to a form of clothing they really dislike? Yes, I’d love it if every woman currently made to wear a burqa cast them off at the same time and showed their pride in their bodies and their contempt for the men that hid them under tarpaulins by doing, well, something like this.
But just as you can lead a horse to water but can’t force it to drink it’s impossible to empower women, or men for that matter, or make them free by forcing them to conform to your definitions of empowerment and freedom. That’s not empowerment or freedom, it’s just a more refined form of tyranny. And as far as I’m concerned you can fucking keep it.