Friday, 8 October 2010

Fabric Wars

The NiqaBitch look succinctly undercuts the emotiveness surrounding the French attempt to ban the Niqab and seems to allude to a lesser heard and more understated reaction to the veil.

Rather than necessarily being a juxtaposition its as much two halves of a different suit worn together. Similar themes play out around it as in the way women dress in other cultures, including the West only certain things may seem more obvious as an outsider looking in, because we ignore them in our own dress codes. Religion adds another layer to that, it does not create it.

It's right that Muslim women especially should be outraged at the ill conceived French ban on the Niqab or face veil covering the whole face and hair, leaving a slit for the eyes, it smacks of displaced fear expressing the politics of gesture on an easy target.

I didn't quite realise the different styles of Muslim dress were called the words I'd heard but couldn't link together.

Among the more well known terms are the burqa the (closed) cloak like garment covering the whole of the body. The chador which is an open cloak that goes over the clothes. And hijab or dress code-referring to the wearing of any of these or modest dress in general for example.

The idea of the government telling people what to wear is as tiresome and invasive as telling us what to eat. Women in the West and outside who question the hijab often fail to see it in the same light as the questioning of the kind of clothes we wear. Forgetting it can be fraught territory for us all, for similar reasons.

We are rightly wary of questioning the motives of certain forms of attire so that courtesy must be extended to all, or none.

I sometimes think we could do with learning to examine what we wear outside the redundant moralising both traditional and feminist. It seems odd when especially feminists go about hanging out of their clothes saying "it makes me feel pretty or comfortable", fine, care to examine why?

Not really and I don't blame them because in the place of curiosity is fear of judgement and a sense of threat. I'm guessing French Muslim women who wish to have the option of becoming hijabi are feeling that intensely right now. And it reminds that controlling what people wear is about trying to control how they feel inside and wish to express on the outside. Affecting the latter is an attempt to shape the former.

Whatever people feel are the flaws in the Les NiqaBitch's approach, they've certainly made their point with an admirable economy cooling the heat surrounding the subject as they sashay cheekily past.

* If you want to hear their own words you can follow the link and click on 'NiqaBitch' on the upper right hand side, for a translation of their own thoughts which on this which is worth a glance.

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