This Sunday, Nicky Campbell on 'The Big Question' asked 'Should The Burka Be Banned?'.
Comically, the burka clad woman on the show, was asked her reasons for wearing one. Her main answer was the misogynistic 'I cover my body and face so men do not desire me'. In reply Campbell asked the obvious question; 'why don't men have to wear a burka to stop women desiring them?'. To this the woman just muttered and sat their in dumbfounded silence. She couldn't answer because there was no answer but to admit that the wearing of the burka is all about the cultural misogynism that spawned it.
Others in the audience pointed out that the burka is a Saudi Wahhabi tradition that pre-dates Islam. The Koran does not mention the burka. Some feminists even tried to claim the burka was a symbol of freedom for women. I was certainly not convinced of this last point.
But saying all this, we cannot ban the burka, people should be free to wear what they like and some muslim women do CHOOSE to wear one, no matter how much the rest of us find it odd and even scary. Of course there is cultural pressure, there is also some who are coerced into wearing one. We need to make sure that muslim women have the protection to easily break free of this coercion if they want to. But we also have to remember that women who go out scantily clad and get drunk at the weekend are also under cultural pressure to do so. Which is worse? Wearing a burka, or drunken debauchery?
What made me laugh though, was that some men actually get turned on by the burka. So it seems, even the main aim (to supress men's desire) is a suspect one. I think this also reminds us, that desire is in the mind of the person doing the desiring, whatever the attire of the desired.