@BreakingNews: AP: Nicolas Sarkozy says France "cannot accept" that women are forced to wear full-body burqas.
And my hackles went up. My hackles always go up when I hear someone from a Western country who is not Muslim and/or is not obviously familiar with Muslim culture make comments about veiling, but when it is the head of state of a state that is not exactly the most tolerant of the practice, regardless of why it is occurring, my hackles go beyond up. They scurry off to get coffee and a shower before running to their part-time job as props in a were-wolf movie.
After poking around in my feeling of "Oh NO he didn't!" I finally got to the root of what was bothering me about the statement, I mean, besides my over-inflated sense of indignation.
When was the last time Mr. Sarkozy made a decisive public statement about the sexism that allowed him better access to the presidency of France? Oh wait...he has been too busy reinforcing the othering of Muslims and immigrants when they said they wanted to be treated equally.
It never seems to me that Western men who talk about the human rights abuses that women in some Muslim countries face are really all that sincere. There seems to be a tone of "oh those backwards brown people" that permeates the discussion on a very base level, but mostly what bothers me is the focus on what women are wearing. Why is it that whenever I hear about Western men decrying how women are treated in "those" places, it almost always ties back to the attitude of women being seen but not heard. Who cares if she chose to cover or not? We can't see her tits or ass! Isn't that what women are for? What about the rights of men to sexually objectify every woman they come across?
I did have a friend suggest to me that this may reflect a difference in collective v. individualist values, but again, considering France in general and Mr. Sarkozy in particular only seem interested in the choices of Muslim women if they are the choices that allow for the women to be fully on display, I find that perspective not only a hard sell, it makes me think of this bridge some guy once tried to get me to buy. It did seem kinda too good to be true...
It seems, like so many other men out there, that Mr. Sarkozy, and France itself apparently, cannot accept the idea of women who choose not to be sexually available and in the public eye. Congrats to Mr. Sarkozy on being the same shit, just a different day.
(For more on related issues please see my ongoing Veiled Contempt series: Veiled Contempt - Introduction (aka The "Why I Opened This Can o' Worms" Edition), Part One: "Hijab" (aka "The Mythnomers and Impervections" edition), and Part Two: "Hijab"(aka "The Fashion Statement That Isn't, Or Is It?" edition))