Burkas and Bikinis
This YouTube video shows an interview of a "Talibanit" lady, sporting her burka, a full head covering veil; the interview is apparently conducted by her husband.
The husband asks his wife several questions about why she wears a full-face veil and multiple layers of clothing, the response of people in the street, and how she responds to critics, from the secular through to the ultra-orthodox?
The lady replies that she wears this non-standard dress in order to be more modest, and in imitation of women (both Jewish and non-Jewish) from previous eras, including the Mothers of the Jewish people, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel.
She explains that whereas many people encourage her in this, she experiences particular hostility in the ultra-orthodox neighborhoods, such as Meah Shearim in
She claims that she has been spat upon, people have tried to forcibly remove her veil, and she has even had rocks thrown at her.
The lady declares her love and acceptance of all Jewish women as her sisters.
She criticises the "Eida Hachareidit" (the Chareidi leadership), who have recently issued proclamations against women wearing veils etc, steps she finds to be negative.
Whereas many see these women simply as loonies, and perhaps subjects of cultish or slave-like regimes by their husbands, this particular Talibanit seems reasonably lucid to me.
There is little doubt that non-standard dress can evoke very strong responses; specifically regarding veils, even liberal democratic
has introduced a ban on (Moslem) veils: France
11 April 2011,
it is illegal to wear a face-covering veil or other mask in public places such
as the street, shops, museums, public transportation, and parks."
On the other hand, yesterday's fashion outrage, is part of today's regular wardrobe.
Consider the humble (and skimpy) bikini.
In 1946, Louis Reard, the (also French) creator of the then-controversial bikini, initially could not even find a fashion model willing to wear it.
Half a century later, the bikini has been described as "perhaps the most popular female beachwear around the globe", an industry of almost $1 Billion in annual sales.
Interestingly, the popularity of the bikini has been directly linked to women's rights.
According to French fashion historian Olivier Saillard [the popularity of the bikini is] due to "the power of women, and not the power of fashion". As he explains, "The emancipation of swimwear has always been linked to the emancipation of women."
I'm not sure where the boundaries lie, between women dressing provocatively (at both ends of the normal curve – highly covered, or almost naked) and a woman's legitimate right to express herself through her clothing.
The Burka lady in the video, invokes democracy as protecting her right to wear a burka, which I find a reasonable point.