Women Have Faces

Yasmin Alibhai Brown gets it.

I now find myself in the unusual position of agreeing with Straw’s every word. Feminists have denounced Straw’s approach as unacceptably proscriptive, and reactionary Muslims say it is Islamaphobic.

Not this feminist. (See? This is why the word ‘some’ comes in handy. It’s similar when people over there get going on the subject of Americans. ‘Americans love sentimental movies, Americans are religious fundamentalists, Americans are fat, Americans mispronounce “Victoriar and Albert”.’ Not all of us, except for the last one: we all do make that mistake.) This feminist has not denounced Straw’s approach as unacceptably proscriptive; instead I’ve wished he hadn’t skated over the feminist issues.

But it is time to speak out against this objectionable garment and face down the obscurantists who endlessly bait and intimidate the state by making demands that violate its fundamental principles. That they have brainwashed young women, born free, to seek self-subjugation breaks my heart.

Yeah. And it’s also depressing that that brainwashed self-subjugation results in some liberals (and some feminists – some, mind you) indeed saying Straw’s approach is too proscriptive.

Britain has been both more relaxed about cultural differences and over-anxious about challenging unacceptable practices. Few Britons have realized that the hijab — now more widespread than ever — is, for Islamicist puritans, the first step on a path leading to the burqa, where even the eyes are gauzed over…I refuse to submit to the hijab or to an opaque, black shroud. On Sept. 10, 2001, I wrote a column in the Independent newspaper condemning the Taliban for using violence to force Afghan women into the burqa. It is happening again. In Iran, educated women who fail some sort of veil test are being imprisoned by their oppressors. Saudi women under their body sheets long to show themselves and share the world equally with men. Exiles who fled such practices to seek refuge in Europe now find the evil is following them…Millions of progressive Muslims want to halt this Islamicist project to take us back to the Dark Ages. Straw is right to start a debate about what we wear.

Don’t read the comments on this unless you want to feel sick. The Independent article has gone subscription, so I used this one, but the comments are…nasty.

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