The Burkini: Provocative or Protective?

The whole point of female Islamic dress is modesty; so how come it’s become so trendy all of a sudden

Muslim_woman_in_YemenThe whole reason for the burka, the burkini, niqab etc is that they are items of modesty clothing.  While it is not essentially called for in the Koran, the female  “cover up” has become a strong cultural statement of women in Islam.

But burka wearing has now become quite trendy. I’ve seen black-cloaked women with Liz Taylor make-up, six inch heels and Dior handbags competing with one another for public attention. They may not be showing all their body flesh, but nor are they acting in a demure and restrained fashion.

And where a normal full swimsuit was the standard dress worn before by Muslim women on beaches if they wanted to go swimming to fit in and not attract attention, now a type of 50s style wet suit has been adopted and sexed up for sales as a ‘burkini’.

The other day I was passed on Chiswick High Street by women walking astride each other in full Western gear. The only thing out of the ordinary as they walked towards me was not their shoes and handbags but they were all wearing full black face veils or niqabs with eye slits. I suppose the point of this was to be able to gauge the reactions of passers-by too polite to react. It was a cross between something out of a Stepford-type horror movie and a replay of Riott, the feminists icons of the 1990s who used to shock the establishment by removing all their clothing in churches.  Again the statement they were making was anything but related to restraint and humility.

Pussy_Riot_by_Igor_MukhinVeiling up appears to be no longer about protection against the stares of  muslim males who apparently can’t control their sexual urges at the sight of a bared shoulder.  It is now more about one-upmanship and following fashion!

There is also an element of “slut shaming” in it. As one young woman said to me with real concern,  ‘If you are wearing western summer clothes like a bikini, shorts or a mini skirt you now feel these women are implying by comparison that if you are raped or assault then it’s your own fault.’

That is the disturbing part. Feminism, what are we to do about this one?

To learn more about similar challenges on modern feminism read my book “Moderating Feminism: The Past The Now And What Comes Next”

About Louise Burfitt-Dons

Writer and social critic
This entry was posted in feminism, Politics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Burkini: Provocative or Protective?

  1. Pingback: Why Girls Are Now Courting Sir Jihadihad Online | The Common Sense Feminist

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