There are French beach towns that have said “non” concerning Muslim women who wear “burkinis” at the beach.
Mind you, this isn’t a matter of nudity or prudity; this is a concern that the women on the beach are wearing too much and so 30 French towns banned burkinis, concluding this apparel is dangerous because it is, according to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a “provocation.”
Strange. I grew up when the bikini and topless sunbathing by women were considered provocative. But wearing too much at the beach? A provocation? A “symbol of the oppression of women”? Really?
Okay. I know there is a reason behind the French argument but it is a contorted one, so follow along: The French mayors and President aren’t saying that burkinis are too sexually stimulating; they object to burkinis because they are too politically stimulating. Burkinis are equated with religious garb that constitute an affront to France’s secular values. But then the logical leap is that every woman who dresses in full-body swimwear at the beach is an oppressed Muslim–who might also be perceived as a member of radicalized Islam and, therefore, given the series of Islamist attacks on French soil, these potential terrorists lounging on French beaches fully clothed will make other beach goers, ummm, uncomfortable.
The argument is too incredibly illogical and ignorant to even warrant a rebuttal, n’est pas?
In contrast, here in Sarasota we are a bastion of liberty—a line in the sand (ha, ha) where the individual right to cover up is recognized. We not only allow women to walk the beach wearing as much clothing as they like, but we also have doctors who advise them to cover up!
- There are the women who are jogging wearing their 50 SPF proof jogging suits (but what if running for them is a religious experience?);
- There are the Mennonites who walk Lido Beach wearing ankle-length pastel dresses and bonnets (Eek! Tied to religious practices!);
- There are the newly arrived tourists who wear jeans and loose tee-shirts (and thank their deity that they are here);
- There are the brides and their attendants in their sweeping long dresses (Eek! many times fresh from participating in religious ceremonies on the beach);
- There are the women who cover themselves with towels and hide from the sun beneath huge umbrellas (and pray that their dermatologist will commend them for their efforts).
Meanwhile, there are news videos of French police officers forcing Muslim women to strip off their burkinis right there on the beach in order to stay put. Huh? A government-enforced strip tease? That’s not provocative?
But today (8/26/16), at least for the moment, reason prevailed when France’s highest administrative court ruled that the burkini bans in French resorts are illegal as they constitute “a serious and manifestly illegal infringement of fundamental liberties.”
In response, at least one mayor vowed to fight on, defy the ruling, and maintain the ban in the name of ending women’s oppression.