Skip to main content


France has a history of seeking secular neutrality among its citizens - and a more recent history of violent attacks on its citizens by foreign fighters associated (by themselves and others) with a particular form of fundamentalist religious belief.

None of this should permit the sort of scenes that unfolded today in Nice - sadly a recent victim of a horrific mass slaughter - when police officers surrounded a woman on a beach there, and ordered her to remove a piece of clothing she was wearing.  A "Burkini".

This is wrong for many reasons, and we here count four:

Firstly, France is the home of international fashion.  The very ethos of fashion is that while some styles are in vogue, many outrageous, outre and shocking styles can be worn publically. The bikini itself is, in many ways, a product of the cinematic glamorous Cannes lifestyle that sexually-provactive French culture has long endorsed in its more liberal phases. French fashion also has a disturbing historical association with fascism. Given this, it hardly seems apt for France to dictate to any woman, indeed person, on what is and is not "wearable". If the clothes fit, they should be acquitted - even if they do not. Every culture and subsculture, has a style, a look, from Punk, to baggy Zoot suits, to preppy button-down - and whether one is a Mennonite, Amish, a Mormon, a Pope, or a hipster - one's clothing should be one's creative, personal, private right to select.  Otherwise the state is imposing a series of accepted uniforms.

Secondly, as many before me have observed, the burkini is no more offensive or concealing a garment than certain other sun-protecting clothes; and is hardly different in style from wetsuits. While the burkini does tend to signify affiliation with a particular set of religious beliefs, anyone can wear one - just as an actor is legally allowed to wear a priest's cassock on stage, and just as at costume parties, people can dress like doctors, policemen, nurses, firemen, monsters, etc. - to suggest that a burkini, which implies body modesty perhaps, is forbidden - but semi-clad nudity is allowed - is to prioritise one particular set of values above others - but not universally-shared ones.  Many people prefer to stay modest at the beach, to avoid skin cancer, prying eyes, or for any number of personal reasons.

Thirdly, it is counter-productive to target a minority, with grievances against the state, thereby somewhat legitimizing a sense of victimhood; this is fuel to the fire.  Radicalisation is likely to occur seeing the oppressive indignities thrust upon this harmless, innocent woman minding her own business. The claim that this sort of bathing costume can conceal weapons is absurd - beach bags, towels, and any number of beach items can as well.

Finally, and most simply - leave women alone.  The state has a bad history of telling women what to do.  In apparently seeking to protect women from religious oppression, French law is imposing a far graver oppression - attempting to nullify a woman's right to choose what set of beliefs she lives - and dresses - by.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…


Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…


The Oscars - Academy Awards officially - were once huge cultural events - in 1975, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley MacLaineandBob Hope co-hosted, for example - and Best Picture noms included The Conversation and Chinatown. Godfather Part 2 won. Last two years, movies titled Birdman and Spotlight won, and the hosts and those films are retrospectively minor, trifling. This year, some important, resonant films are up for consideration - including Hidden Figures and Moonlight, two favourites of this blog. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington will hopefully win for their sterling performances in Fences. However, La La Land - the most superficial and empty Best Picture contender since Gigi in 1959 (which beat Vertigo) - could smite all comers, and render this year's awards historically trivial, even idiotic.

The Oscars often opt for safe, optimistic films, or safe, pessimistic films, that are usually about white men (less often, white women) finding their path to doing the right thin…