The niqab ban: why aren’t we having a debate about banning high heels?
Extract from an article by Jessica Abrahams:
/ SEPTEMBER 17, 2013 / PROSPECT MAGAZINE
The British government does not have a policy on high heels, and it is right that women are free to wear them, but that doesn’t mean that heels are great for feminism or that they do not help to perpetuate sexist values. They do. And since one argument that is often raised in favour of banning the veil is that women are sometimes forced to wear them, it is worth pointing out that women are sometimes forced to wear high heels, too—either at work, through official company policy, or through social pressure. Similar arguments could be applied to make-up, and shaving, and lingerie, and, yes,
niqabs. All of these things are problematic for feminism, but we’re only having a debate about banning one of them. It is easy to portray the veil as an imported symbol of discrimination that doesn’t fit with British values of freedom and equality. It is harder to notice that many everyday aesthetic norms for women don’t fit with these values either.
We shouldn’t ban the veil, or heels, or make-up. Wearing them is (in most cases) a free choice. But that doesn’t mean those things are helpful to equality, and in discussing that we should turn our attention towards our own culture as much as to others.
Editor: Abraham’s article elicited ten or so responses- all were critical of her arguments.
Do Muslim women really need saving?
Amal Awad: ABC RELIGION AND ETHICS 27 NOV 2013
Years ago, when I was a student working in retail, a co-worker pointed out two veiled women. Knowing I am Muslim, she said: "Do you call that a life?" From what I could see, the women were happily shopping, and having "a life." I told her as much. Her response was something I've come to hear many times over: "That's because they don't know any better."
Editor’s Comment: We’ve heard that one before!