Undressing the stupidity in Pauline’s burqa comments

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d know by now that Pauline Hanson, an Australian Senator, wore a burqa to the Senate to then ask about when we’ll ban the burqa.

This moronic stunt was apparently done to demonstrate that the burqa doesn’t belong in Australia. The funny thing about her actions – and trust me, I use funny while wondering if should laugh or cry – is that they demonstrated that wearing a burqa can be facilitated in such a way that you could even wear it into the Australian parliament without causing a security threat.

I really just wanted to ignore the fact that this had even happened because it almost felt like the stupid woman was baiting us all into talking about her. But in the week or so since this happened, I’ve heard dumb statement after dumb statement about the burqa… and it feels like people are buying the false and confusing story that arises out of those comments.

You should know up front that I’ve always believed that women have a right to wear as much or as little as they want (you can read more here). I feel like women have had to moderate the choices they make about clothing based on the opinions of men (and sometimes women) who believe they have a right to dictate what a woman can and can’t wear. For some reason, those who advocate for banning women from wearing a burqa or niqab see themselves as different to those who advocate for making the burqa and niqab mandatory. Both arguments require a governing power to tell a woman what she can and can’t wear. It assumes that the women in question are incapable of making that decision for themselves and need to be saved.

I should also say up front that I’m going to use the term ‘burqa’ to refer to any religious face covering worn by Muslim women. I’ve never known of or seen an Australian woman in wearing an actual burqa. I do, however, know some women who wear a niqab which covers everything but the eyes.

But let’s specifically go through the dumb shit that Pauline Hanson has said about the burqa and women who wear it.

Edit: here are some women in a niqab who are answering questions and sharing their opinions.

Idiot.
It’s not haraam

“It is not a religious requirement.”

Imam Pauline Hanson is always spewing fatwas. She once said that Muslims don’t even need halal food – we can just pray on food and it’ll be fine (seriously – look). Amazing.

Despite common belief that it’s not a religious requirement; many women do believe that it is a religious obligation. Personally, I’m not one of them. I believe that the hijab was mandatory but the burqa wasn’t because that’s the way I interpret the religious scipture. Women who believe they should wear a burqa do so because the Prophet Muhammad’s female relatives covered their faces as part of their religious covering – so if they did it, surely the rest of us should. It’s a perfectly valid argument and the rest of us can’t really tell people what they can and can’t believe, nor can we tell them how they should or shouldn’t practice their religions. That’s the point of faith – it’s all about you and your individual thoughts.

Given that Australia is a country that celebrates our freedom of religion, wearing a burqa as part of a religious practice is perfectly fine.

Men force women to wear it

“This is brought in by men who want to cover up their women. It is oppressing women.”

Pauline seems to think that men make women wear the burqa. Sure, in some parts of the world, wearing the burqa is mandatory. But in Australia, the country she lives in and the country in which she’s advocating for a ban, women who wear the burqa do so because they want to. They have actively made the choice to wear it. The women that I’ve spoken to who wear it choose to do so with the knowledge that they might face stigma or harassment because of it. They do it whether or not their fathers or husbands think it’s a good idea – whether or not they think it’s an Islamic requirment.

The amazing thing about this debate is that no one seems to want to talk to women who cover their faces. There are all of these assumptions being made and it’s completely unfair. It assumes that these women are all controlled by some man and are incable of deciding for themselves.

Intersting; Pauline doesn’t seem to realise that she is one of the only threatening people in a Muslim woman’s life. She’s the one that is trying to force women to uncover. She’s the one oppressing women by making them comply with someting that just isn’t their choice.

I personally don’t like it

Wearing it is a “Terrible, it is a horrible feeling.”

Apparently because Pauline felt horrible covered up, eveyone else should feel horrible covered up.

The fact is that these women feel uncomforable being in public without their religious garments. Personally, if I was told I wouldn’t be allowed out in public without a hijab, I’d do everything in my power to get a close as possible to wearing the hijab. I wouldn’t go outside without my hijab and would find it incredibly uncomfortable.

If the burqa was to be banned in Australia, I can assure you that all the women that I know who wear a niqab would not feel comfortable going out. I don’t even know if they would want to leave their homes.

In fact, Human Rights Watch investigated the impact of a burqa ban on women when the Netherlands parliament considered the issue earlier this year. It found any legislation restricting the wearing of the garments would “violate fundamental rights to freedom from discrimination, freedom of religion and the right to autonomy”, as well as harm the women who wear it, by confining them to the home.

That pretty much sums up all the babbling that Pauline has done over the last little while. Even at the end of this post, I feel like I’m responding to the ramblings of a batshit insane woman who should just be ignored. But the last time people decided a political figure was too insane to be responded to – we ended up with Trump as the President of the Free World… so…yeah.

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One comment

  1. So, two are wrong and one is irrelevant, and meanwhile her main point (it’s a security risk) is also wrong. I have to say I’ve got into several social media debates/arguments since she pulled the stunt. I have several niqab-wearing friends at uni and so while I had an opinion on the whole issue before I now feel much more strongly about it. I have – somewhat ironically – faces to put to these unmentioned people who would be affected by a “burqa ban” – although there goes her security argument, because there’s a simple solution: have the women’s identity checked by another woman! I like your point that “The amazing thing about this debate is that no one seems to want to talk to women who cover their faces”, and that’s something I’ve brought up over and over in the last few weeks. “If only people would take a few minutes to have a conversation with [insert any name here] – you’d have to be crazy to think anyone could force her to do something she doesn’t want to!”

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