Today in Montreal, a pregnant woman wearing a hijab was attacked, thrown to the ground, and had her hijab torn off by two teenagers, in a disgusting bit of Islamophobic hate. I'm mad. I'm mad because I'm scared of what Canada is becoming.
The government is whipping up anti-Muslim hysteria in an attempt to win (steal) another election. They made a big deal out of Muslim women wearing the niqab at the citizenship ceremony, all two of them. Ever. They act like this is some sort of incursion into Canadian ideals. What bullshit. The incursion into Canadian ideals is the government telling women what they must wear! Canada's a free country, right? So where the fuck do they get off telling women they're not allowed to wear what they want?
Ban the necktie! It's literally a great big arrow pointing to a man's penis! Terribly offensive. No? Ridiculous? Why?
"Ban the niqab!" I've seen that particular sentiment in a lot of places. Why? Some argue that women wouldn't wear it if they weren't forced to. There are several problems here: 1) The idea that Muslim women have no agency whatsoever and that the government should step in to help them dress appropriately for Canada; 2) The idea that Muslim men are such animals that they force their wives to dress in a restrictive way; 3) The idea that the government should have the right to tell women what to wear, despite their own protests to the contrary.
Now, I don't quite understand the desire to completely cover one's face. But I also can't imagine wearing high heels unless forced to. Those are actually quite oppressive. They damage feet and shorten the achilles tendon. And yet, women choose to wear them. Why isn't the same possible?
Some say that Islam doesn't require women to cover themselves. Okay. So? Does Christianity require women to cover their hair? No? So why do Mennonites do it?
"But I want you to understand that the head of every man (that is Christian men and women) is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head" (1 Cor. 1:3-6).So some women do. Most don't. But some do. Now, I know that niqab and hijab are not the same, and the government is not complaining about hijabis. But I'd like to see a poll on how many conservative Canadians want the hijab banned too. Especially in light of today's events. The pregnant woman who was thrown to the ground was wearing a hijab - face uncovered.
Other than the utter disrespect for Muslim women here, the most troubling thing for me is the government overstep. I do not want the government to be able to tell me what to wear. Ever. Dress codes for work are bad enough. Societal pressure is to dress "appropriately" (seriously, define appropriate for me.) Christian women have clothing marketed to them for dressing modestly (Holy Clothing, for example.) Get Jason Kenney in power for 12 years or so, and see if society's idea of what is appropriate doesn't start becoming a lot like that. Suddenly the dress code at work says skirts have to be below the knees by 2 inches. We already have to wear pantyhose in most jobs. Oppressive, itchy, uncomfortable, annoying, expensive pantyhose. I do not want the government influencing our clothing choices more than they already do.
Did you know that toplessness for women is legal in Canada? When was the last time you saw a topless woman outside of her home? Hell, when was the last time you went to a friend's house and saw a topless woman INSIDE her home. Our breasts are so sexualized that we do not uncover them in front of any man except our husbands and sometimes our doctors (though I know a number of women who will only see female doctors). But for some reason, we can't get over the idea of women covering their hair for the exact same reasons, in the exact same way! Some women go further than covering just their breasts. They won't show cleavage. They won't wear things that accentuate them. They cover their belly too. Hmm, much like how a small fraction of Muslim women cover their mouths? No? Why not? It's ethnocentrism, pure and simple.
You know what else it is? Misogyny. It is women being targeted in this latest bit of fear. Our rights. Our agency. Our lives. When you tell women what they can or can't wear, saying that their husbands shouldn't force them to wear these things, you're becoming the Daddy who tells us what we should or shouldn't wear. Women don't need anyone to look out for us. We're good. Now sure, there are abusive Muslim men. There are abusive Jewish men, Christian men, Hindu men, etc., ad nauseum. There are abusive men. Men who abuse their wives and control their actions, right down to their wardrobe. But answer me this, how many Canadian men do you know who would be okay with it if their wives went out topless? Or in a belly shirt? Or in a micromini? Or a bikini?
And do not give me any crap about how this is Canadian values. Beyond what I already said above about Canadian values including freedom, this just isn't that! Before Harper and his crew of Islamophobic dickbags started whipping up this fury of hate, almost no one gave a shit. But this past week, I was in Saskatchewan. I grew up there. Muslims were not exactly welcomed with open arms, but there wasn't hostility toward them either. I had a male Muslim friend - no one blinked when we were together. People were ignorantly racist, but not hatefully racist. Neither is good, but the latter is worse. Now? Wow. I saw a woman wearing a hijab walk through Victoria Park in downtown Regina. One person spit at her (but was a coward and waited until she'd walked past and didn't see). One person snarked, "Go back to Pakistan", and two others just glared at her hatefully. I was stunned. My own damn brother, who doesn't give a shit about politics and brags about not voting (ugh!), was watching a hockey game and he rewound it a few seconds to say, "Look. Do you see what's behind the bench?" I said, "What? A bunch of Flames jerseys?" (They were the away team, and I thought maybe he was whining that they got the good seats). He said no, it's this "piece of shit." It's was woman, in a really pretty hijab. I was floored. His stupid girlfriend (who is university educated, I might add) said, "Oh, she's wearing a babushka." Hijab, I said. She asked me to repeat it twice, and said, "Oh well, I just call it a babushka." *sigh* My brother started on about how this is Canada and this is disgusting. I shut him down, of course. But I sure didn't change his mind. The words he spoke were almost right out of Stephen Harper's pasty face. My completely apolitical brother.
And my point? My point is that when the government says things, people listen. Even people who don't give a crap about what the government says. It gets to them. And it's dangerous. If anti-Muslim sentiment can bring two kids to beat up a pregnant woman, and it did, it can affect all of us. Anywhere, any time. We must not allow the government to dictate what women can wear. Not even if we agree that those clothes are oppressive.