The Banning of the Headscarf


Mossuz-Lavau argues that the law is not striving for the equality of men and women but rather that of Muslim women and French women. She notes it is similar to a colonizing tool as to bring Muslim women up to the standards of their western sisters. I would agree with this argument as there are different forms of oppression (in this case, gender based) in every culture, and Islamic culture is not the sole culprit. As it is pointed out, western cultures which encourage women to dress scantily for the gaze of men does the same sort but different category of damage than the ‘veil’. In the end, whether it is objectification through g-strings or suppression through a burqa, it is made by patriarchal system that allows for the control and sexual subjection of women- both can be seen as symbols of oppression and sexism.

To say that the burqa is a more drastic perpetrator as it dictates the importance of virginity or purity would be incorrect; while sexual liberation is something every person has a right to, it comes with an educated mind and not with stringent rules on way of life. This is to say that education is what has determined the liberal values of an individual not a piece of cloth. It has been proven that those who are more educated tend to lean towards progressiveness rather than conservative values. So by banning headscarves would do little in terms of lessening conservative or oppressive values among the islamic community.

Banning headscarves would be to rip a vital part of islamic culture from its roots. It would absolutely not succeed in integrating islamic women into French society and is a colonizing tool towards that community. Moreover, banning a piece of Islamic culture would promote xenophobia and create further rifts in French society- which in turn, would lead to more tension and violence.

Mossuz-Lavau’s argument about the burqa limiting sexual liberation seems a bit contradictory. The type of sexuality a person possesses is of course influenced by their culture, but in modern times it is dictated by education (as she stated earlier). Modern islam- particularly in western societies- promotes the headscarf as a choice by the girl or woman. That is to say, it is just as much a woman’s right to wear the headscarf as much as it is to not wear it (not to discount that it is used as a tool of oppression in conservative areas). So to force a woman to take off her burqa would be to take away her right to choose, and in the same sense, to assume that every person’s form of sexual liberation is the same is a narrow minded assumption. It is after all a woman’s choice as to how many or how few partners she has, and taking away one choice (the headscarf) will not suddenly make her want to be provocative or even ensure her she has a choice in any other aspect of her life.


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