Liberte, egalite, fraternite

by mollykl

As a woman who has the right to wear whatever I want, whenever and wherever I want, to work, to go to school and to tell my husband to fuck off, I can’t wrap my head around the idea of wearing a burqa. I’ve seen them not just in news stories, but in everyday life. Where I do my grocery shopping there’s one or two women who come in burqas. It’s hard not to stare the first time you see one – is it hot? how well can you see? that material looks really nice…how much did that thing cost? But now they’re just the people I shop with. I nod, smile,  make eye contact (difficult, but possible) and go on my way in the aisle.

I think we tend to equate burqas with Islamic extremists (although apparently there’s no mention of the actual full veil in the Koran- only the moderate hijab, which covers the face and neck, is required -anyone who knows different please illuminate!). I don’t, because all I can picture when I read about France’s proposed ban on burqas is the women in the grocery store. If they weren’t allowed to wear burqas in public, would they simply not go out in public? Would their husbands not allow them to?

Nicolas Sarkozy said, “In our country,we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity.”  If the burqa is what lets them step forth in public, isn’t banning it condeming them, and in effect punishing the very people you sought to liberate? Will they thank you when they sit at home, because they can no longer go out in public? Is “a little” freedom better than none at all?