Today’s post was going to be about how my daughter has been asked to open a festival next Saturday in Bath, and how excited we are, and how you should all come (you should all come). I got slightly side tracked though.
By this article about how four French policeman, armed with guns, stood over one woman on a beach in Nice and forced her to remove her burkini, so that the Western world can be saved from Islamic extremists.
And people clapped and cheered. Which is good news for the future of humanity.
And I felt physically sick, and then wanted to cry, and then got really fucking furious, and then really sad. And I’ve been cycling through that for the last hour, and now I have a headache, and I really have to go out, but I have to write this out now, because if I don’t I might actually explode, and I’m not even wearing a fucking burkini. And please excuse any garbled bits, because this is just coming straight from the gut and I haven’t got time to tidy it up.
I posted on Twitter: I do not understand why it is powerful to force a woman to take off a Burkini on a beach at gunpoint. What does it prove to anyone?
A follower then posted footage of people being blown to smithereens and said: ‘because she could have explosives hidden under her clothing’. He then posted several more articles about how this sort of thing is common, and then blocked me when I said that it wasn’t common behaviour by all Muslims, which is why the great majority of Muslims condemn terrorism in the name of Islam.
So that was a good debate. I’m only sad he blocked me before I blocked him, frankly.
There are so many things wrong with this article, so many things that make me angry, it is difficult to know where to start.
What makes me most angry is that this ‘law’ banning burkinis is a sop. It has been enacted in some French towns because some members of the public are ‘uncomfortable’ with the sight of women in burkinis. That makes it alright then does it? Rather than address the prejudices of those who are uncomfortable, we’ll just give the thumbs up to draconian gun toting tactics that make women and children more vulnerable, and targets for hate shall we?
Rather than make any attempt to try to educate people, try to reach a long lasting, peaceable solution that could build a better future through destroying ignorance and bridge the differences between communities, we’ll just reinforce that ignorance and give it our approval by policing women with weaponry over their clothing choices?
I find middle aged fat, white men with excess hair, nasty tan lines and a penchant for too small, lycra swimwear uncomfortable to look at. I suspect that there were far more of them on the beach in Nice than women in burkinis. I also suspect there are a great many people who agree with me. Could we have someone to police them, please?
Did the people who blew up the airport in Brussels wear burkinis? Did the individual who mowed down those poor buggers in Cannes wear a burkini? No, they didn’t.
We are not going to get less terrorists by banning burkinis. We just aren’t. It’s simply something visible and easy that the French authorities can be seen to be doing, to up their approval ratings with idiots, and yet actually do nothing to deal with the real problem at all. It’s all smoke and mirrors and bull shit dressed up as action.
Another thing that really makes me seethe is that so much of the rhetoric around this is about ‘freedom’. People come to the west, apparently, in large part, for the freedom it offers, and yet what does that actually mean if people aren’t even free to express themselves through the clothes they wear? What’s free about that? Oh yes, you can be totally free as long as you’re free in a way that fits in with what we’re comfortable with and what we believe is right.
As a woman who steadfastly refuses to wear what people believe middle aged women should wear, and who dresses exactly as she pleases every day, even if that means wearing a ball gown on the school run (Oh yes), this narrow minded, bigoted nature of ‘freedom’ appalls me. Mainly, I suspect, because if this kind of authoritarian clamp down on what exactly the right freedom is, is allowed to continue, I will be one of the first against the wall.
It’s exactly the problem I have with people who insist that all women vote because women died for your right to vote. And yes, they did, but they were fighting for something much larger than that actually, and that was women’s freedom to do exactly as they fucking well want without being made into a scapegoat or a poster child, or a whore or a saint, and that includes the freedom to choose to do and be whatever they want. I don’t want to be ‘your’ version of free. I want to be truly free, like men have had the right to be for centuries, and if a woman wants to wear a burkini to feel free, then she should be able to do it without people running around and screaming and labelling her a terrorist.
And as well as the fact that this stuff is insulting to Muslims and freedom and conflates terrorism with all sorts of things terrorism isn’t and all sorts of things Muslims aren’t, do I even have to go into the whole woman question? Do I?
Apparently I do.
This last sentence to be read with a giant dose of weariness, a large pinch of for fuck’s sake and an enormous sigh.
Why is it that it is just women that this law is penalising? Why? Why are we not legislating against djellabas for example, if you want to take the ethnic clothing = terrorism trope to its extreme? Why are the men free to wear whatever they want, but it’s the women’s clothing that is dangerous, oppressive, deadly?
It’s just sexist, patriarchal shit again, and again and again.
Yes, I suspect if you really wanted to, you could hide a shit load of explosive under a burkini (as long as you didn’t swim in it, obviously because, you know, clingy issues, and why wouldn’t you swim in it, given that that is one of the things it’s designed for?) But you could equally hide it under a djellaba, or in a back pack, or a picnic ice cooler, or a fucking top hat if you wanted. You could hide it in a thousand ways that no French official is legislating against, most of which things are either male or unisex, but no, they legislate against women’s clothing, because, well?
You know, the last few terrorist attacks occurred on crowded beaches, perpetrated by women, pretending to sunbathe with their children.
Oh, that’s right. They didn’t.
I have to go now. I have things to do that don’t involve weeping, grinding my teeth and despairing at the ignorant, sexist, racist, religionist horse shit that pretends to pass for safety, common sense and protecting the future. A future I increasingly don’t really want to be a part of unless I can hold up a placard that says: ‘Not my idea. Sorry everyone.’