Terrible ideas

Hey France, your burkini ban is shitty feminism

Ban on body-covering swimwear amounts to fighting sexism with racism
Photo: Carlos ZGZ

I love it when people force me to liberate myself. It releases me from the unbearable weight of my own independence. And I especially love it when others take control of my autonomy. I ask for more. I love when a man explains to me what angle I should have taken in my article on feminism, if I’d really wanted to get to the bottom of things. I almost want to ask him to write it in my place.

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Editors’ note: A version of this column originally appeared in Ricochet’s French edition. It has been translated into English.

In the same way, I am sure that all Muslims must be wishing that a westerner like the mayor of Cannes or Jean-François Lisée, Parti Québécois member of the National Assembly of Quebec, would come to liberate them. In any case, if I were, for example, Algerian, I would be jumping up and down with impatience for a good Frenchman, whose ancestors decimated a third of my people, to come civilize me down to my bones and explain to me how to dress properly so that he won't be offended.

The real goal of the hipsters of Mile-End is to conquer Montreal. The next step is to conquer Quebec. Beware, Labeaume, the prices of your shabby clothes will triple.

Obviously, whenever I dress in a certain way, it is because I would like everyone to dress the same. When Muslim women wear the veil, it is clearly proselytism and we are right to be suspicious. The goal of “these people” is not to dress in accordance with a given social norm but to erase “ours.” The real goal of the hipsters of Mile-End is to conquer Montreal. The next step is to conquer Quebec. Beware, Labeaume, the prices of your shabby clothes will triple.

But let’s stop this delirium. Who are the “socialists” who supported the ban on burkinis in France? I do not think that the central committee has approved these positions. Or perhaps they put their fingers in the electricity socket of their neighbourhood Soviet.

Who could convince themselves that the argument about security isn’t crazy? Because a vacationer photographed women in burkinis like we photograph animals in cages and conflict erupted, we decided to do away with the untolerated behaviour rather than the intolerance?

The French, all of a sudden, are the world champions of feminism? I conclude from this that I will not be harassed in the street the next time I go to Paris, that there is now parity between men and women at the Élysée, that a French wife will no longer set her husband on fire, that there are no more sexual assaults, domestic violence or comments about the secretary’s bottom in the entire country? Good, all of a sudden I am overjoyed with my origins! I will enlarge and laminate my passport and display it proudly on the street.

No one thinks that the full veil is a symbol of women’s liberation. But for me, I don’t feel very liberated by push-up bikinis, dieting and anti-cellulite treatments. Whether we’re asked to cover our bodies or respond to the unreasonable, erotic expectations of patriarchy, no woman, veiled or unveiled, is completely free from masculine clutches. We will actually be free the day when we go to the beach in whatever swimwear we fancy.

Who sharpens the knife of racism with the stone of feminism?

But above all, who thinks that whites (even white women) who dictate to others how to behave are a symbol of liberation? Who sharpens the knife of racism with the stone of feminism? In France, as here, members of the dominant racial group don’t have the moral superiority to tell Muslim women how to dress. On the contrary, they have a duty to stand aside after centuries of extending their tyranny over the rest of the planet.

Racism has to be understood in itself, alongside sexism, as well as interlocked with it. Like two wheels of a mechanism that at the same time turn around their own axes. These two systems of exploitation and oppression have grave consequences that cannot be ranked. Not considering the issue of racism in feminist struggles is simply … racist.

In any case, from a practical point of view, let’s be honest. What will become of those who wear burkinis? Will they swap their outfit for gaudy-colored triangles? Of course not. They will simply not be able to go to the beach in municipalities which have adopted the new ban on burkinis. A great gain for the cause of women!

If new legislation is passed for the entire country, not just for the beaches but also for swimming pools, what will happen? To show the absurdity of the situation, a friend who was a lifeguard for a long time suggested the following. “To the extent that we don’t let them learn how to swim, we can directly drown them!” Drowning minority cultures and practices, is this not the dream of all good white French republicans?

Translated by Jahanzeb Hussain.
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