The Burkini Ban

I’m conflicted about the burkini issue, because it raises some questions for me. My first impulse is to say, of course, women should be allowed to wear burkinis. I believe in freedom of religion, even though I’m an atheist, and the idea that women appearing fully covered is offensive strikes me as patently absurd. Do we then ban men wearing wetsuits? (No, because they carry no weighted meaning.) And this also seems another instance of men once again making rules that target women , which I detest on feminist grounds. But then I thought more about this. Burkinis and burqas are themselves a gender-imposed restriction that has no male equivalent. I would say, at risk of offending my Muslim readers, that they are just as much an instance of men trying to control the actions of women as the bans that restricted them. So, while I wish to support religious freedom and I would not support bans of burkinis, I can’t say that I’m a fan of the garment. I’ve had Muslim friends who wore the hijab explain their reasoning. It makes sense in their worldview. I just don’t share it. I think that patriarchal religions like Islam, Judaism, and Christianity can in their fundamentalist forms be especially damaging to women. The burkini debate highlights for me why I am an atheist and resolutely secular


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