Home > Uncategorized > Banning a Clothing Item

Banning a Clothing Item

By now, and especially if you are reading an atheist’s blog, you should be aware that various French mayors have banned an item called the “Burkini.” This is a swimsuit that covers the entire body in order to preserve a Muslim woman’s “modesty,” as opposed to the “bikini” which was the product of two clothing designers’ near-simultaneous invention in France because of cloth shortages. We know what the bikini is, there is rarely a day when I don’t randomly see at least one image of a woman in a bikini whether it’s on my homepage (which is whatever the default is on Edge) or a trip to the grocery store. The inventor of the bikini (his rival called it the atome, after the Greek “atomon” which is the smallest particle of matter that cannot be divided [literally “un-cuttable”]) said that it couldn’t be called a “bikini” unless the entire thing could be pulled through a man’s wedding ring…got to love the French.

Except, no we don’t. This whole episode regarding the banning of the Burkini is evidence. Look, I like women in bikinis. I’m being honest about this, and if you need to call me a sexist or let me know about revealing swim wear and the objectification of women there’s a comment button and I’ll happily engage in civil discourse about it. I think it’s about choice, if a woman wants to wear a bikini, she should be able to. If she wants to wear a one piece swimsuit, great; and importantly, if she wants to wear a burkini–then fine, it’s her choice.

Before you comment: yes, if it’s her choice which for the most part we should assume it is. It’s doubtful that the type of person that would mandate their wife/girlfriend must wear a burkini is likely to let them go out to a beach. Let’s just make the assumption that there’s a French Muslim that wants to swimming and chooses to wear a burkini. Why is that at all illegal?

This isn’t like the ID issue: where a Muslim woman was not allowed to have her ID picture taken while wearing a face veil. That issue is different in that the requirement to have an ID means that the card should be able to identify you. If your face is covered the card doesn’t identify you. It’s not nearly the same issue.

The good news is that the French court has struck down the ban citing it “seriously, and clearly illegally, breached the fundamental freedoms to come and go, the freedom of beliefs and individual freedom.” Their reasoning is absolutely correct, there is no danger in wearing a burkini, it doesn’t create a danger, and there is, essentially, no harm in the thing. Well maybe the harm is in how hot one might get if they lay out in all black on the French coast but the water will cool them off.

Looking at the Burkini, it’s just a full bodied wet suit with a skirt like addition at the waist. Some being tight, but form concealing, and some being loose. It’s not that hard to see why it would be uncomfortable but if a thing is uncomfortable it’s not the government’s job to enforce comfort. I’ll say it again, if a woman wants to wear one of these things, that’s up to them and I can’t fathom the reasoning behind forcing them to take it off…especially at gun point by the police.

The further problem with this is one of arbitrariness. The burka is legal in France. All Muslim women are free to wear a burka. In the town of Villeneuve-Loubet any woman, or person, that chooses to wear it enjoys the full protection of the law. However, until the ban was overturned, if that burka had slowly gotten wet at some point it became illegal to wear. What percentage of the clothing must be wet before it qualifies technically as a burkini? 51%, 40%, etc. Understand the problem? They can’t ban the street wear, but the swim wear–which is actually less concealing, they can? This is the definition of arbitrariness. If it was worn on the street, there would be no problem but cross the imaginary line of “beach” and now it’s illegal.

Don’t worry, in the battle of cultures (as some defenders of the ban have described the motivation behind it), making the women take off their clothes isn’t  going to have any repercussions. In a global conflict between the enlightened world and the theocratic one, the image of French police forcing a woman to become “immodest” is a great example for their propaganda. It is literally a thing they have been saying: that the West is intolerant of the Islamic way of life. It will be portrayed as an example of the French government forcing a woman to sin. Which, as a concept is surely not going to inflame anyone to do anything against the French.

I’m not for the concept behind the burkini. Surahs 24 and 33 are explicit that women should be covered because it invites the desire of men who are not their relatives, which is some real “blame the victim” in the way that laws regarding this are prosecuted. This is something I am against because of the inherent unfairness behind such a command. The men aren’t supposed to cover themselves, or refrain from the desire that the uncovered face creates. See, it’s not about the actual action it’s about the sin that even viewing an uncovered body creates in the mind. Just like Jesus says in Matt 5:28, the mere observation is sinful. I find the very concept of “thought crime” abhorrent, since the thought impairs nor harms any one individual.

It looks uncomfortable. It looks like it would impede swimming by slowing the individual down (not creating a danger to that person as some retroactive defenders of the ban are claiming). It also looks like it would be unnecessarily hot, especially if it’s black. However, those are matter of my personal taste and are all reasons for me not to wear one. In the interests of liberty and equality banning this item is ridiculous.

  1. September 13, 2016 at 3:07 am

    What I find particularly infuriating about this is that some of the French arguments for this ban center around preserving their form of secularism. This is giving secularism a bad name. We already have to deal with people in the US not understanding that not forcing students from diverse religious backgrounds to celebrate a Christian holiday and pray Christian prayers is about religious freedom as much as it is about secularism. Now on top of that, we have people in France banning one in the name of the other. We can definitely have both. We just have to acknowledge that no one has the right to force a religious practice on someone, or to force someone to give up a religious practice, unless there is some harm in doing it. France is really breeding a dangerous culture right now when it comes to this, especially with all the refugees in Europe. It creates an unnecessary us-versus-them mentality and it’s going to lead to more violence.

    • rdxdave
      September 20, 2016 at 12:39 am

      I completely agree with you. They are certainly trying to (or appearing to try to) oppress a religion. And we all know how reasonable religious people are when they think they are being oppressed.

  2. September 13, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    If the burkini is not OK, then what about these suits from the early 20th century?

    How about someone wearing a scuba wetsuit, are they going to police that? If I choose to wear normal street clothes on a beach, is that banned too?

    I like the idea of promoting secularism, but dictating a minimum acceptable skin exposure on the beach is not going to help the cause.

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