On Thursday September 2nd, 2010 secular France introduced a ban on religious symbols in public spaces (first and second level of public schools, hospitals, government buildings). Although the ban prohibits the use of all religious symbols in public spaces, the one symbol highlighted within this contrevorsy has been the veils of Muslim women. What is being called as the “Burqa Ban” has lead much heated debate over the dynamics of 1. Banning a cultural icon and 2. the rights of women, Muslim women. The debate has brought out many points that are related to racism and sexism which in this particular manner are tied to immigration.
To most Western women the Burqa/Hijab/Abaya/Boushiya/Buknuk/Chador/Dupatta/Khimar/Milfeh/Niqab is seen as a symbol of hate. Something that keeps woman from coming to understand their complete identity. The development of a complete human being’s identity is their understanding of their sexuality, whether it has power or not. This complete understanding to a Western Woman means complete freedom. So, this ban was seen as a win for liberty. But why do I have a sour taste in my mouth?
One of the main reasons the taste of sour milk lingers in my mouth is the thought that keeps on creeping inside of my mind. The idea of a caged animal being whipped. If France’s government was really thinking about Women’s rights they would’ve thought of the woman already caged within their Burka. These women already have a limited engagement with the public. To further scrutinize just seems unreasonable and stupid.
As a Westerner, I cannot understand why anyone would want to live behind the veil. Worse, I couldn’t imagine seeing myself as just an object of a man’s desire or wife. And to think that I’m the root of many evils, because I can possess scrutinizing facial expressions and give birth? Many of my facial expressions are separated from my sexuality, if you could imagine that! Yes, the veil would hold back any awkward stares I might penetrate onto whatever shag I desire (insert eye-roll) but I consider my sexual identity to be part of my identity as a whole. There are so many facial expressions needed in my daily life to fully communicate with my co-workers, friends and family. That to have that taken away from me seems sinful. But I’ve never immigrated from a distant land to land in the land of the free. I feel as though I cannot impose my ideas of freedom on those Women who arrive in a Western country and choose to continue their traditions that seem oppressive to me.
I think of the time in Ottawa while riding the bus and sitting across a young girl wearing a Burka. Face covered and all in black. And I remember not being able to look her straight in the eye because I felt ashamed for her and myself. I couldn’t imagine being that girl and being so severed. The shame came from not being able to imagine a way of helping her either. We sat across each other looking beyond each other as the landscapes of our Nation’s Capital rolled by. I thought of France and how sorry I felt for the girls living in France who had the Burka bestowed upon them by mothers and grandmothers. Whose Father’s believed it was the only way for a girl to dress in order to live a pure life. And the taste of sour milk happened and the girl before my eyes disappeared.
The banning has brought about many complexities of the way a society works and I really do feel that some of it needs unveiling. France is not the only country in Europe that faces a crisis. It has a lot to do with race but mostly it has to do with Political infiltration. The West does not want to meet the East. Just look at Sweden’s ban on the Minarets on Mosques. Because of instability in the middle East Western Europe has had immigration problems. Walk into Montmartre, Paris and discover not only the Moulin Rouge but hundreds of Arab men hanging out. These sort of bans are happening because there is a major culture crash happening in Europe. Why?
More people need to start asking themselves the question, Why is this happening?
Warning: The following will make you either need a strong drink, a strong hug (my kitten Oliver has now been smothered to death, RIP Ollie) or a long run to clear one’s head.
You can also view it in one video here.
For a more in-depth look at the man behind the film, check out Adam Curtis’ blog. Adam Curtis is a British documentarian and writer who currently works for BBC Current Affairs. He has also made it into my list of future husbands. Congratulations Adam Curtis, you’ve made it.
The beginning of the summer brought such promise. I had re-located back to Alberta, had a nice job and was on my way to living debt free by my early thirties. Then, bang – lost job, catastrophe up North and the sense that most of my frivolous spending was catching up to me. I used one set-back during that period to move forward. The oil-spill that happened early this summer, I’m sure any faithful reader might remember, either through my retelling of travels made or by reading any major Canadian newspaper…(right?) The mini-road trip brought such rejuvenation that it eventually inspired a move to the mecca of Albertan black gold, Calgary.
So here we are. In the middle of a city (literally, I’m living at the edge of the city’s downtown in one of the oldest communities, filled with character both in its history and in its current day) brimming with oil and its by-product. Taking in the city that loves its fairs, the foothills next to the distant mountains and is anticipating the re-opening of a little cultural institution known as the TELUS World of Science.
The move once again brought the need for re-adjustment. This time a move away from home stuck. I’ve landed a job that has brought enough fulfillment that it has allowed for a concentration on the outskirts of a half-made life. Readers, may I not bore you with details of my encounters of old friends, family and landlords. Nor may I not take up your time of the endless films I’ve generously rented from the go-to video rental shop in Calgary, we’ll save that for future posts in other blogs. Just know that my eyes are starting to wonder towards this blog again. Thoughts are once again needing an outlet. The allies are under negotiation as we speak. Calgary, this city of birth, is slowly unraveling before me.
But for now, just now, there is nothing but beauty: