I’d rather wear a veil than a thong. Or suspenders. Or those nipple tassel things. Or most uncomfy creations devised to satisfy men
I’d rather wear a veil than a thong. Or suspenders. Or those strange nipple tassel things. Or, in fact, most of those other uncomfy creations devised to satisfy men.
One of the major arguments being lobbed around this week as to why Muslim women shouldn’t be wearing veils in public is because they are a symbol of male dominance in society.
As if knicker skimming dresses aren’t?
Women in Britain today really aren’t in a position to be lecturing Muslim women on what they should and shouldn’t wear to assert their identity.
On the streets of our cities every night of the year there are girls in outfits created purely for the pleasure of men.
Never in history have women been more sexualised in our society.
Never has their physical form been more analysed and criticised – both by men and women.
We have become a nation obsessed by the way we look, as the “selfies” generation is testament.
Any physical imperfection must be immediately addressed at any cost or risk.
Meanwhile, the emotional and intellectual imperfections go unchallenged.
In terms of women being able to express themselves more freely, there might be a lot to be said for the veil.
Yet, Judge Peter Murphy was absolutely right to demand that a Muslim woman remove her full-face veil when giving evidence in the case against her for intimidating a witness.
Because a jury being able to see the woman’s face in this case is vital to ensuring that justice is being done. And crucially, that it is being seen to be done.
But beyond that, on the streets, and in schools, hospitals, workplaces and hotels, why should a woman be compelled to reveal her face if she doesn’t wish to?
What business is it of anyone else how she dresses?
And what reason can there be to demand that a woman shows her face everywhere she goes other than fear?
Fear of people who look a bit different, fear of people with religious faith, fear that because she is a Muslim she might have extremist, perhaps murderous, tendencies.
If we are angry at the way immigration has been handled in this country, let’s get angry and demand answers from the authorities. But let’s not be fearful.
Fear says far more about our own mind-sets than it does about the realities of the situation.
When did we, as a nation, become so scared?
No so long ago if a woman went down the street wearing a space suit, so long as she was polite to the people she passed, abided by the law and didn’t push in at the bus queue, there would be no problem.
Our history has been one of self confidence, where we were big enough to accept people who were different, looked different and wore different clothes.
We are, after all, a nation ofimmigrants from the Angles and Saxons to Romans and Vikings and on and on.
There is just a tiny number of women in Britain wearing the full burkha or niqab (which covers the face but leaves an area around the eyes exposed).
Yet despite the small number of women involved, it has become a massive issue.
Why? Because it suits the scaremongers and haters to shine attention onto those who are different, those who they can paint as somehow sinister.
And by doing so they deflect us from the real inequalities in our society and the real sinister things that go on.
Don’t be fooled by the debate. In this issue, we need to look behind the veil.
* More from Alison Phillips this week on Sian Lloyd and Daniel Pelka