Entries Tagged as 'women'

Can France Win the Battle of the Burqa?

April 18th, 2011 at 7:34 am 9 Comments

The shoe has finally been dropped in Europe – France has banned face coverings in public places: In practical terms, generic that means the burqa and niqab.

The penalty if found guilty is a fine of some $200 – and/or taking citizenship lessons. Kind of puny, help but still symbolic.

It’s fair to wonder “why” such a law, in a country of some 65 million people where only an estimated 2,000 women wear face-coverings?

The law is aimed at France’s restive Muslim community, which is about 5% of the country’s population but gathered in communities that give a different impression.

All of Europe is uneasy about the growing Muslim population and its increasing militancy. In hitherto placid Denmark, Muslim imams are advocating the implementation of Sharia law, and anticipating that a high Muslim birthrate will someday result in Muslims having greater influence in future elections.

The Netherlands has wrestled with Islamic extremism even before film director Theo Van Gogh was murdered in 2004, with a note on a knife plunged in his chest warning that Ayaan Hirsi Ali was also slated for death.

At the time, Somali-born Hirsi Ali was an elected Netherlands MP who collaborated on a documentary, Submission, that detailed Islamic abuses towards women.

Some “experts” predict the 16 million Muslims who live in the European Union will double within the decade. Other predictions are that by the end of this century, 25% of Europe (excluding the Balkans and Turkey) will be Muslim.

Such demographic predictions have a way of panicking people, even though they often are without substance. (Remember predictions that oil was running out; that the world population would outgrow its food supply; that the end of the Soviet Union marked the end of history?).

What has Europe alarmed about Muslims in general is not the majority per se, but that moderate Muslims are largely silent or neutral about the actions of jihadists and extremists.

Already, Sharia courts have sprung up in several British cities

The uneasy attitude about Muslims can be as unfair as it is understandable. But it does exist, and not to acknowledge this existence guarantees that things are likely to get worse.

By 2030, the Muslim populations of Britain, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Ireland and Finland, are expected to double. To many, France’s ban on face-covering (in Sweden it’s a human right to cover one’s face) is propagating negative stereotypes, and even encouraging hate crimes – both by Muslims and against Muslims.

Italy, for instance, has fewer Muslims in its population (1.5%) than other European countries, yet even with a small population, some Muslims have demanded crucifixes be removed from public buildings, including schools and hospitals. The government rejected this bid, but wants to limit the building of new mosques.

Quebec banning face coverings for public employees or those dealing with government services, has resonated elsewhere, especially when the custom which has little to do with religion.

If wearing a burqa or niqab is a matter of choice, it’s one thing. If it’s demanded by husbands, on threat of punishment, against the will of the woman, it is wrong. But how to differentiate between the two standards?

What a woman wearing a burqa in a free society is saying, is that she is a repressed individual, the property of a man, someone who believes in sexual mutilation, and is a prisoner of cultural dogmatism.

It that’s what some women want, it’s their right. For the moment.

The Prowl: When a Gal Needs a Man

March 11th, 2011 at 6:23 pm 13 Comments

A close friend frequently likes to quote from a song whenever I mention my boyfriend; he will say: “What is love?  Baby don’t hurt me.”

This week was not my finest.  I had an absolute meltdown in our managing partner’s office over our impending move: the hours I spent on the phone with Verizon, the daily bombardment of fabric swatches from the interior decorator, our bank switch which has involved much cat herding to assemble the necessary paperwork for, and – finally – my inability to fix our senior partner’s laptop.  I also contracted the stomach flu that was circulating about our office.

Knowing I was having a tough week, my senior partner gave me some advice: something about life handing me lemons and making lemonade.  Fine advice, except it really felt as if the lemons were being pelted at me and it wasn’t entirely clear if this was supposed to make the lemonade process easier or more difficult.

The practical effect of all of this stress was that it was a trying several days of trying to keep it together while pretending I was capable of consuming solid food and while smiling politely through meetings that seemed as if they would never end.

By the time Thursday night came around, I hadn’t kept anything down in two days, had turned a sickly gray pallor, was beginning to think I might have a parasite, and had not yet been able to fix our senior partner’s laptop despite several rounds with tech support.  To summarize, I was basically done with a long, long week.

Yet, when I got home, I was overcome by the smell of gas.  Surprisingly, a representative from Washington Gas came over immediately and was remarkably helpful in identifying the source of the problem.  It seems that when the guy (I can’t call him a “repairman”) my landlord calls to deal with plumbing or wiring or, well, anything installed my hot water heater, he didn’t do it correctly.  Instead, he used a pipe that was the wrong size.  This resulted in gas coming out of the heater when the pipe loosened from the wall.  I was told I would need a plumber to fix it and I would be without hot water until he did.

I’m not going to lie, my first call was to my mother who somehow figured out what was going on when for the second time this week I broke down into tears (and to preemptively answer my mother’s question:  no, I don’t have my period; this isn’t a hormonal problem).  My second call was to my landlord to let him know what was going on.  He was in Costa Rica on vacation, but he offered to “call a guy.”  Well, his “guy” seemed to be the source of the problem, so after some rather harsh words, we agreed that I would call someone and it would simply come out of a future month’s rent.

While waiting for a plumber late Thursday night who never showed up, I finally called my boyfriend.  This is what boyfriends are for, after all.  I called him because in the end, I wanted what all girls want, as much as it pains me to admit it: I wanted him to be here and to understand fully what these valves and vents did and what the problem was.  Then, I wanted him to just take care of it.  Rather than fighting with my landlord and dealing with plumbers and watching the man from Washington Gas shake his head at me and make faces rather than tell me what was going on, I wanted this all to be on him – something that he could be big and strong and masculine about.  This is one area where I felt perfectly happy falling into every conceivable gender stereotype.  I just wanted my very lovely boyfriend to, well, basically do boy things.

In an era of gender equality, especially at a time when my female friends are outshining my male friends in terms of accomplishments, it is still nice to have someone to rely on to do the things that you don’t want to.  At the end of the day, of course I took care of this as he was in New York and could frankly do very little.  I never doubted that this was a problem within my ability to cope with.  I never felt destitute.  My point is that having him around simply would’ve made it better.

As I already explained, he really couldn’t yell at a plumber for me given the circumstances, but he did prove to be a good listener and commiserated appropriately.  He said that he wished he could be with me.  Even if he didn’t mean it — I mean, I wouldn’t want to be in an apartment with no hot water – it was still nice to hear.

This, of course, made me think about my friend’s line (or actually having googled this, 90’s singer Haddaway’s): “What is love?  Baby don’t hurt me…”

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Fox News: Feminist Champion

David Frum November 20th, 2009 at 10:40 am 50 Comments

On the Fox News site today, I clicked a link to a Sean Hannity interview with Elizabeth Hasselbeck.

Hannity opened the item by blasting Newsweek‘s cover story on Gov. Palin as “blatantly sexist.” He asked, “What is behind this double standard?”

At about the 3:11 minute mark, Hasselbeck offers this answer to the host’s questions: “When I saw that I was infuriated, as most women should be. It is as you said blatantly sexist. Where now is the National Organization for Women? Where are they? Where are they when a conservative woman is being reduced to that sort of cover?”

Hannity chimed in: “It seems to come down to a really basic litmus test whether women’s groups will support you or not.”

Good point! While some women can be sexually objectified with impunity by the liberal lamestream media, others get protected. Yep, it’s a litmus test. One question though. About an inch below the box in which Hannity and Hasselback joined to denounce leching and leering, was a smaller icon that linked to this item.



Question for Fox: what litmus test did these women flunk?

PS – in reply to reader TXANNE, I do agree that the Newsweek cover was sensational and inappropriate. Whatever games Palin may be playing with her admirers do not excuse news sources from playing similar games with their readers.

Down the Memory Hole

David Frum November 20th, 2009 at 10:30 am 11 Comments

“This [Sarah Palin] is a woman who has got into a position of leadership by sending very powerful sexual signals. And we see that in the way that men like her much more than women do.”

She’s Sending, but He Ain’t Receivin’

Did David Frum really say this about Sarah Palin? Apparently so, and on PBS:

This is a woman who has got into a position of leadership by sending very powerful sexual signals. And we see that in the way that men like her much more than women do.

With this line of attack, David seems to be channeling his inner Andrew Sullivan.

(By the way, when I saw her campaign in N.H., I was surrounded by moms with strollers.)

- Mark Steyn, NRO The Corner, Nov. 19, 2009.

“I’m sure I’m not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, “Hey, I think she just winked at me.” And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. ” – Rich Lowry, NRO The Corner, Oct. 3, 2009.

“Plus she’s a housewife. Before that she’s a babe. I saw a picture.”
-Rush Limbaugh, Feb. 28, 2008.