Friday, July 2, 2010

Ban the Burka, and Suits and Pyjamas

I’m never really sure what I think about all this ‘ban the burka’ stuff. Without a shadow of a doubt, costumes from different cultures are great and it is truly uplifting to see an African woman in a mad yellow, gold and dazzling green dress with matching headdress, wheel a pram along Shop Street in the rain.
The burka, on the other hand, is mostly dull yet it does draw attention but not as much attention as the neon elasticised bands worn around the breasts and waists of some indigenous Irish minority ethnic groups.
What also fascinates me though, is the gender thing. I constantly see Muslim women wearing traditional attire, while their husbands have shed the flattering headgear and flowing robes in exchange for jeans and hoodies, shell suits and various variations of western male attire.
I’ve heard a lot of arguments as to why women should or should not stay in the burka or wear the head gear while their husbands don’t. But my point is this: if you want to ban somebody from wearing something that denies them their democracy, I think you have to start with men in suits. Those suits must be so restricting: especially ties. Imagine having to wear a rope like garment around your neck. And the shoes, the silly little black shiny shoes, I mean they must feel like right idiots in those tap shoes when all they are asked to do in them is sit around at meetings and look important.
Women in burkas and men in suits have a lot in common: they both think that their uniforms will earn them respect, but mostly people scoff at them. They also believe that it is all about personal choice. But they believe it in the way that we believe ourselves to be free.
Whatever you wear sends out a message. But if you don’t like what people wear can you pass a law to ban them from wearing it? I think you should be allowed to wear what you like, when you like, except for people who wear their pyjamas to the supermarket. They should be arrested and forced to wear burkas, or suits, or those awful three quarter length pedal pushers. But then again, maybe people who wear their pyjamas to the shops, wear suits to bed, and burkas. 

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