29 August 2016

Responses to the banning of burkinis

In the one televised interview I have seen with a French official, he did not cite security risks, but rather tried to justify the ordinance on the basis that "seeing those outfits on the beach makes people uncomfortable."  There are other "justifications" -
For those on the right, including former president Nicolas Sarkozy, the burkini is a “provocation,” a symbol of radical Islam in a country still reeling from the terrorist attacks in Paris last fall and in Nice in July. For those on the left, such as Prime Minister Manuel Valls, the burkini is a means of “enslavement,” the subjugation of women to a patriarchal religion.
But in France, that type of secularism, which is common in countries around the world, soon became a creed in its own right. The initial prohibition against the state — or any of its representatives — showing religious preference eventually became a prohibition against private citizens showing any religious preference in public.
Here's one counterpoint:
The women who wear burkinis, she said, cannot be called oppressed. They are not the women subservient to a conservative Islam; they are the women who sit on beaches unsupervised by men, enjoying their leisure time in mixed social company.
And here's an image posted by an Italian imam who suggested that these women will not be asked to remove their beach clothing:

Embedded images via The Independent.

AddendumResponses from five women who choose to wear a burkini.


  1. > The initial prohibition against the state — or any of its representatives — showing religious preference eventually became a prohibition against private citizens showing any religious preference in public.

    Reminds me of The Night Sessions book by Ken MacLeod. It speculates on about what total secularism looks like and why it could happen.

  2. Hmm.. as a regular user of a wetsuit in the ocean, another difference is that the wetsuit comes off, or is typically peeled down to the waist very quickly once out of the water. I suspect this isn't the case with the burkini.

    Background -- A wet suit is worn in the ocean to conserve heat. Ocean water here gets up to maybe 68-70 F in the summer. In the winter its at least 10 degrees colder. You need a wet suit if you're going to be spending significant time in the water such as in snorkling, diving, or surfing. Without a wet suit you can cramp up, or start shivering uncontrollably within from 20-30 minutes or less (depending upon your body, the water temperature and specifics of how you are moving around). Air temperatures are 10-20 F warmer, typically in the upper 70's to low 80's in the summer.

    A wet suit -- either the full body as shown here, or the farmer john or shortie suits get taken off very quickly on the beach, since the insulating power of the wet suit makes them very uncomfortable on land or in the sun. Once you get out of the water, typically you'll peel the suit down over your arms and leave it around your waist. Then you'll peel the rest of it off very quickly else your legs feel like they are marinating for a barbeque.

    I suspect that is another difference with a burkini. I don't think the burkini has much thermal insulating power. I suspect its closer to the rashgard or sungard long sleeved clothing that you sometimes see on the beach to protect against UV and sunburn.

  3. So let me get this straight, Prime Minister Valls, a man, wants to use the force of the government to tell women what they can wear at the beach, because he believes they are subjugated by a patriarchal religion. ARGH!!! My head hurts.

  4. Nice to see France has solved all of their problems and can now dedicate resources to worrying about what someone is wearing on the beach. :-)

    #2 Anonymous... I had the misfortune once of viewing an episode of a TV series named Bay Watch. What I could not get over was the fact that the women staff on the TV wore wetsuits in their Bay Watch office. They had Body Glove spring suits on, walking around like it was normal. I kept thinking "Those poor actresses. They are under hot lights, wearing a wetsuit on set, and they must be extremely hot and uncomfortable." Even without the lighting, it must have been terrible on set.

    Perhaps they were fake wetsuits?

    1. >Perhaps they were fake wetsuits?

      Possibly, although not likely. I suspect the actresses would unzip the suits and pull them down off their shoulders to be comfortable when they weren't shooting, and then pull them up and rezip them when they were spending the few minutes shooting the scene. I've seen similar things done with costume jackets and hats on other sets.

      It's not common for an actor to keep all of their costume on and stand around in the 15 minutes to an hour of prep time between between shooting a specific scene. The costume folks will want them to take it off if possible and protect it from food, dust, dirt etc until its time to shoot the scene.

      Body Glove I'm sure provided the suits free for product placement. I've got a 5 mm titanium full suit from Coral Reef wetsuits which I really like.

  5. There's a start-up in San Diego that produces suits that are UV-proof, not wet suits. For people (mostly the ladies) that have suffered, or are concerned about, skin cancer.

    1. Coolibar out of Minnesota (originally Australia) sells said UV-proof swimwear. I'm considering a long-sleeved & pants ensemble from them for my next beach foray, being an individual to whom the sun seems to take special dislike. I have to say the burquini seemed like a good idea to me for wholly--but not holy--practical purposes.

  6. Doesn't France have nude beaches? This is just discrimination against Muslim women. I love the juxtaposition with the nuns at the beach, BTW.

  7. The burqa is a symbol of inequality and subservience it's not an individual statement or choice. It's a symbol for a rule (superstitious rite) that is enforced using all and any method of coercion, including indoctrination, intimidation and peer pressure.

    It's not symbols or clothing that the french object to, obviously a lot of folks wear company logos and sport team caps. It's the meaning behind the symbol that is objectionable.

    Muslims are the immediate victims of Islam, however attempts of emancipating people who were born and indoctrinated into such a horrid ideology by way of passing laws, such as prohibiting genital mutilation, under-age marriages and banning of various types of clothing (for public servants) has a unimpressive track record. Still, the prohibition of institutions that enforce modesty laws, like the "sharia-police" is very much in effect and a freedom everybody seems to enjoy.

    It's only discrimination against Muslim women, in the same sense as education is discrimination against the stupid.

  8. But this is NOT a burqa and it wouldn't be worn by the extremely devout -- it's a choice made by women who want to live by the rules of their religion (all three Abrahamic religions: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim have sects that require "modest" dress and at least two of them have hair covering rules.

    Do I think the idea of enforced "modesty" is silly? Of course, all religions and their laws are silly and restrictive. But do I think telling women that they have to essentially be 97 percent nude -- by official order -- in order to be "free" is right? No, of course not.

  9. Wow Anon,
    Ever met anyone orthodox Jewish?, Amish, Mennonite? a thousand other denominations?
    Many if not most cultures use dress as a way to distinguish their members and prove their devotion to their master(s) (Business men wear ties as symbol of their subservience to Mammon)
    The burkini is actually a rebellion against the strictures normally placed on the female members of certain Islamic sects.
    From my view it should be encouraged as a sign people are struggling against the ignorance of the religious past.

  10. Elagie!
    That is hilarious!
    You are much better spoken than I!
    Thank you!

  11. I'm french.

    Fact is, we never had people wearing burkinis before and now this happens, among other things such as being shot with automatic rifles in a concert in the middle of Paris and driven over whil wtaching fireworks for national day. All in the name of Allah.

    So comparing burkini and terrorism is a bit far fetched, I admit. But the climate between the muslim community and the "main" community has quickly deteriorated to a very dangerous point. In this context, wearing a burkini a few kilometers from the place where 86 people died in an extremist muslim attack is considered a provocation (and to tell you the truth there are plenty of muslim who go along with their life and don't need a burkini to go to the beach).

    Add the fact that in some areas where the poor muslim community represent a bigger part of the population, women who don't wear a hidjab are insulted in the streets.

    I don't think the government should tell people what to wear, but that's not exactly what's going on here, there's more to it, and to tell you the truth it doesn't look like it's going to end well.


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