Funny how “tradition” applies only to women

I saw a lot of uproar yesterday about Boris Johnson’s column dissing the burqa, and now he’s being “investigated” over it.

Former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson will face an internal investigation over complaints that he violated the ruling Conservative Party’s code of conduct when he wrote in a newspaper column last week that women in burqas resemble “bank robbers” and “letter boxes.”

His most recent column noted his opposition to a new ban on face veils in Denmark but veered away to critique traditional Islamic garb, calling niqabs and burqas “oppressive and ridiculous.”

Well guess what, they are oppressive and ridiculous. That’s not to say Tory provocateurs need to insult powerless women for wearing them, but let’s not pretend they’re anything but oppressive. Also, “traditional Islamic garb” is annoyingly euphemistic. It’s “traditional” only in some majority-Muslim countries; many Muslims say it’s not Islamic; and it’s not mere “garb” but an imprisoning stifling tent that erases women from public life.

Critics said it was outrageous that a Conservative aspirant to top office and Britain’s former face to the world would launch such a broadside against traditional Islamic attire.

Let’s word that more accurately and see how it sounds: Critics said it was outrageous that a Conservative aspirant to top office and Britain’s former face to the world would launch such a broadside against the custom of forcing women to wear a concealing tent whenever they leave home. Not quite such a slam dunk, is it. The issue isn’t mere “traditional Islamic attire”; the issue is different rules for men and women, and male supremacy, and the subordination of women.

Image result for women in burqa men in jeans

Longtime Johnson watchers suggest that he is modeling his rhetoric on Trump and seeking to bolster support among right-wing Conservative supporters.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a member of the House of Lords and a Conservative, tweeted, “Boris is merely a symptom, the disease of Islamophobia runs far deeper.” She said she welcomed an investigation, “but let’s not pretend this is an isolated incident.”

Fair enough, but let’s also not pretend that the burqa is just a neutral article of clothing.

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