The Burqa-Bikini Analogy and Burqa Ban: Confusion on Both Sides

burqaOn Facebook, Heina Dadabhoy links to a helpful article, “The Burkini-Bikini False Equivalence and Your Disproportionate Outrage”. It targets the moral confusion on both sides of the issue, and can basically be summed up as follows:

1. Left-wingers and liberals should stop making the comparison in the image to the right. It’s irresponsible and grossly insulting to women in the Muslim world. If you’re stupid enough to think the bikini is an appropriate analogy to the burqa, you need lessons in analogies. As the author says:

“When a woman’s acceptance, respect, dignity, employability, marriagiability, physical safety, enfranchisement, social mobility, access to social institutions, freedom, and autonomy hinge upon her daily, unwavering, public adherence to the bikini, then we can make this comparison.”

“When a woman cannot leave her home in anything other than a bikini without being deemed immoral and her human worth and family’s honor compromised, then we can make this comparison.”

“When there are severe legal, social, and extrajudicial forces holding a woman’s safety, wellbeing, and livelihood hostage to her adherence to the bikini, then we can make this comparison.”

2. Right-wingers, conservatives, and fringe feminists are wrong to advocate a burqa ban. It’s true that the burqa represents oppression, but you don’t fight oppression by oppressively taking away someone’s First Amendment right. People dress in crazy outfits all the time, for any number of reasons, and they can and should have the right to do so. If the government wants to send a message to a religious community that it is not acceptable to oppress women, that is to be applauded. But the government needs to find a way of doing that which doesn’t involve (a) criminalizing the victim, and (b) taking away her autonomy as a matter of principle.

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