Thursday, May 13, 2010

Burqas, priest's collars, skull caps and digger's hats

I've been thinking about this issue for a while now.
I think I might have boiled it down to something equating to ideology vs culture.
Yes, burqas oppress these women and are a symbol of that oppression.
No, I don't have to understand it to accept. I understand the cultural significance of the burqa (and dozens of other religious/cultural symbols), but that doesn't mean that it doesn't offend my own cultural sensibilities.
Burqas are bullshit. I say so. I hate what they stand for and the fact that they symbolise ownership and control of women.
I can feel like that and say it because that's the cultural attitude I was brought up with and I've considered my membership to my own culture and accepted it. If I was convinced that the culture which supports the burqa is the right way to go, then I would pop over and join in. That's Australia - I can pretty much do what I like and wear what I like. Like people who wear burqas.
If we start banning burqas, don't let's kid ourselves that it's about safety or any of that other propgandist garbage. Unless we ban all cultural and religious symbols, no matter how benign or offensive to our own sensibilities (think priest's collars, skull caps and digger's hats), then a burqa ban is pure xenophobia. And that's not the Australia I want.
We're not going to effect a cultural change in the people who expect women to wear burqas (wearers included) by banning one expression of that culture.


  1. We need to accept that Australia is a multi cultural country and allow people to wear their national clothing if that's what they want. Or if their religion demands it. I don't agree with what the burkha symbolises,(ownership of women), but if these things are worn purely as a religious statement, much like the Jewish yarmulke, then who are we to ban them? Enforcing a ban seems just as wrong as enforcing the wearing of particular clothing styles. Did I make sense?

  2. Perfect damn sense.
    Please refrain from summing up my thoughts so succinctly!

  3. Interesting thoughts.Being a Muslim female who lives in Sydney and doesn't wear either a burqa or a veil, I think you may like to know my point of view.

    I am pleased to see that both the comments on your post do not advocate the Burqa, but at the same time stand united against the ban that sympbolises the 'actual oppression' in a free society as opposed to the clothing in question.

    If you would like to get another view point, do visit my blog. It may help to shed some light on this matter.


  4. Please do visit Sha's site.
    Much more informed and articulate than this one!


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32