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Clothes Don't Make the Woman, We Make Ourselves

Though I am an American citizen, I am currently working in the north of France. As many of you may know, France has recently proposed a law that forbids women to wear burqas in public places. The French government has defended it as a feminist law, freeing women from what they consider a misogynistic religious tradition. I believe that it is a poorly veiled (pun intended) excuse for islamophobic attitudes in France. If they wanted to make a law supporting women, then why would they focus on something so shallow as what we wear? Is not it just as oppressive to tell us what we cannot wear, to force us to act against our religious beliefs? I find it patronizing for the government clutch at a feminist justification when it has already stated that the law is a matter of national security, though there are deeply religious intolerant attitudes lurking behind this fear for safety. After all, if someone wanted to try carrying a bomb into an airport, couldn’t they just as easily hide it in a backpack as under a burqa? Yet again it is women who must bear the brunt of society’s critical eye.
I wish for people to see that clothes do not oppress women, social attitudes and practices do. By proposing a law that targets women’s clothing, the French government is not only singling out Muslims, but Muslim women who choose to wear the burqa in particular. This law is stigmatizing these women by casting them as “The Other.” What I propose is simply an effort toward understanding on the part of the French government and its people. The burqa law needs to be abolished. France stubborn nationalism is not preserving its culture but making it a culture of intolerance. Perhaps I am biased, having come from a country that exists because its creation consisted of the integration of immigrants. Of course the United States also has a history of nationalism and cultural intolerance. In France’s case, I believe that it is possible to embrace these immigrants without forcing them to adopt French culture. The customs of traditional France are not going to die out simply because the country is adapting to modern needs.
Pulsewire is instrumental to me to instigate the change that I wish to see in the world. Because it is a global community, I can easily connect to women in France or countries once colonized by France. I can find people who share my views and wish to instigate the same change. I have been educated on the potential uses of Pulsewire to start a petition or find a cause that I can join within my community or simply on the web. Pulsewire is a forum where I know my opinions will be treated with consideration. Though Europe and the states are some of the best places in the world to be respected as a woman, they still have a long way to go. I think it is important for France to recognize this burqa law as a backslide.

Comments

Dear Mary,

A very interesting topic to post about, and strangely enough I just posted something similar in my journal, http://www.worldpulse.com/node/29034. Can you tell me a little more about what you see is being done around you to combat Islamaphobia? Where in France are you working?
I think this is an important topic to speak about--and I am continually horrified by French nationalism when it expresses itself like this!

Thanks!

Rachael

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