mōdgethanc wrote:While she has legitimate reasons for associating the hijab with oppression, her argument is that hijab is bad because shitlords who oppress women also force them to wear hijab but in a liberal society where women can wear basically whatever they want that doesn't make a ton of sense. Symbols don't have the same meaning in every context; that's why Westerners are shocked when they see swastikas in Japan. It sounds like her problem is with Islamism , not a garment.
For me this is the key part of her argument:
Again, if women must wear the hijab on all of these occasions (which are importantly male-centric) in order to wear it at all, then wearing the hijab is not a choice. If women cannot set their own conditions for how, when, and why they choose to cover then you admit that the hijab is not a complete choice but a set of social requirements that must be specifically followed. If the hijab is a choice, then there can be not set of requirements to make that choice legitimate.
This is still relevant in Muslim communities in the West where women do not face legal pressure (or widespread social pressure outside of their own families/immigrant communities). Now, as she herself says, that doesn't mean we should be against women's right to wear it, women should of course be able to dress however they want, but that doesn't mean we can't deconstruct
the nature of these choices within the context of patriarchy. The point is that we can't say that it's empowering and feministic when the main point of it (at least from a religious perspective) is modesty in the presence of men who are not family members. This use of the hijab as a symbol of "modesty" in the presence of men is not
limited to Islamist circles, it's essentially the whole point of it from any
Islamic perspective that says its good for women to wear it for religious reasons. This isn't unique to Islamic issues - feminists can analyse the gendered nature of makeup or earrings or high heels without publicly shaming all women who wear them, or indeed rather often wear them themselves (here's a feminist perspective on makeup: "being a feminist means that you never get to enjoy a damn thing unconditionally, because there. are. always. conditions. And makeup is no exception. Fun as it is, and innocent as it can seem, we definitely need to analyze that choice before we make it.
I do know Muslim women who alternate between leaving their head uncovered and wearing lighter headscarves (dupatta
and equivalents). In that case I'd argue it has less to do with modesty and the (non-liberal) feminist appraisal of it is going to be more positive/neutral.
Of course I'm not saying that all feminists have to be critical of the hijab or prioritise it as an issue (that's why I said liberal feminism or Muslim feminism are not going to be as critical of it). I'm just saying that if as a feminist you believe in deconstructing and analysing the choices of women (including one's own choices), without denying women's right to bodily autonomy, as potentially reinforcing patriarchy, I see no reason to make an exception for Islamic traditions of modest dress.
Aurinĭa wrote:The creator herself and the women wearing one have probably experienced islamophobia too. Quite possibly while wearing one—and I doubt a different name would change that.
It's sad though that something banal like the name of a piece of clothing could spark such reactions from people who don't even wear said piece of clothing.
I think we prioritise different aspects here. You seem to prioritise possible reactions of others to the garment and/or its name (a reason for islamophobes to attack Muslims, promoting ignorance in the West about Islamic women's clothing), whereas I prioritise respecting the (Muslim, female) inventor's choice to name it what she named it. How much time she spent thinking about a possible name is irrelevant, burkini is what she called it and continues to call it.
Given that Aheda Zanetti is Australian and originally released her product for an Australian market, I'd think attitudes in the West would be at least relevant
, if not a determining factor in how we appraise the social impact of the name burkini
. Apparently she started her business by developing the hijood
(hijab + hood), so it wouldn't be surprising if the (possibly non-Muslim?) investors pressured her into finding a similarly catchy portmanteau. In any case, that's speculation on my part.
It's surprising to me personally that someone would want to associate "modest" full body swimsuits with something as (rightfully) reviled as the burqa -- in my experience most Muslims hate the burqa, and many despectively refer to women who wear them as ninjas
, but I'm totally ready to admit that that might not be representative (though then we'd have to ask why the burqa is still so marginal in the vast majority of Muslim communities throughout the world). So yes, people can do whatever they want, and I'm not trying to hate on Zanetti here, but I don't think we can just ignore the cultural context, especially when talking about for-profit initiatives in a capitalist market still dominated by white men. The burqa does
prevent women from participating in public life in any meaningful way, so it's not exactly a pleasant association even if any reasonable person can immediately see that it's not the same thing if they bother to check.
Of course Luis was absolutely right to point out that burkini
was coined by a Muslim woman, which is an (extremely important) fact that I was unfortunately ignorant of until now.