Burka or Bikini, Niqab or Naked, female freedom or oppression?

After dozens of French councils banned abaya swimwear or ‘burkinis‘ on the beach, some being fined for it, the courts overturned the bans but some of the councils said they would continue to ban burkas on the beach in the name of freedom and security. An Italian town mayor banned women in bikinis unless they were beautiful enough to wear them! Meanwhile, Glasgow, lacking a beach, decided to issue an appropriate dress code to councillors in the wake of the killing of MP Jo Cox to ensure their fashion sense didn’t “give rise to misunderstanding”.

nudity v modesty v empowerment
nudity v modesty, female empowerment?

Whether women cover up or uncover on the beach, who decides, who offends, how far do we go so as not to offend, and how far to assert our freedoms? And who is behind all these rules? Do we blame religion, men, fashion, advertising, celebrity, beauty, the sex industry?

Come and discuss at our monthly discussion group in the Norwich Library, Tuesday 6th, 6-7pm, optional Pizza Express after.

Some of the articles up for discussion are below:

French Freedom of Expression, Burkas Incompatible?

French PM suggests naked breasts represent France better than a headscarf

Topless Marianne remark by PM Manuel Valls stirs French row

In France, the home of human rights, a grown woman asked my permission to sit on the beach

The Death of the Bikini?

The two-piece used to represent a saucy yet uncontroversial ideal of sex, summer and youth. Now its sales are tanking thanks to a combination of sun-avoidance, fitness, politics and, of course, fashion

The Burkini Ban

Abaya Burkini Wetsuit French beach ban
Only one of these was banned on a French beach

Cannes bans burkinis over suspected link to radical Islamism


Burkini ban: First French Muslim women fined for wearing garment on beach in Cannes

French police make woman remove clothing on Nice beach following burkini ban

France Corsica brawl: Mayor bans burkinis amid tensions

Burkini ban suspended: UN backs court ruling as right-wing politicians pledge to keep ban

French mayors refuse to lift burkini ban despite court ruling

Opposition and Opinion on the Burkini Ban

Banning the burkini is misogynistic – and Western feminists are turning a blind eye

Only warped minds would impose a burkini ban

Any ban on burkinis is “bizarre” and against the principle of women’s equality, the Dutch government said today while dismissing far-right calls for the Netherlands to copy French prohibition of the Islamist beachwear.

Fashion Freedom?

“Burkini Ban” Law Restricts What French Muslim Women Can Wear at the Beach

Five reasons to wear a burkini – and not just to annoy the French

What Is The Difference Between A Burkini And A Scuba Diving Suit?

Muslim Views

The Quran doesn’t say wear hijab

I created the burkini to give women freedom, not to take it away. The burkini does not symbolise Islam, it symbolises leisure and happiness and fitness and health. So who is better, the Taliban or French politicians?

The Burkini-Bikini False Equivalence and Your Disproportionate Outrage

Over in Italy…

Once upon a time in the 90s, in Italy – No bikini for “ugly” women

Meanwhile in Glasgow…

Councillors told to dress appropriately in safety guidance following killing of MP Jo Cox

Life Can be Murder in High Heels – Fetishising of Clothing

High Heels

High Heels padlockA fetish fascination, sexist slavery, health hazard, or neo-feminist fashion choice? Are heels demeaning, empowering, fetishising? Should dress codes include height of footwear rules, or just stick with professional, casual, formal etc? Why are high heels such a simultaneous symbol of oppression, femininity, power and domination?

Nicola Thorp, 27, arrived on her first day at PwC in December in flat shoes but says she was told she had to wear shoes with a “2in to 4in heel”. When she said the demand was discriminatory she was sent home without pay after refusing to go out and buy a pair of heels. (The Guardian)

“It’s sexist to insist that women wear make-up to work” – Nicola Thorp

“Forcing women to wear high heels at work is medieval – and no better than calling us witches” – The Daily Telegraph

“High heels aren’t glamorous, they are physically damaging and requiring women to wear them is sick” – The Daily Telegraph

Last year Cannes Film Festival turned away women not in heels!

140,000 signed a petition against sexist dress codes at work.

Does a gendered dress code still exist?

If dress codes were agender and uniform, how would that affect trans people? It’s often been suggested that if a future world were less sexist, binary and clothes were not considered gendered, how would trans people express themselves, or “pass”?

Does the wearing of high heels reinforce a gendered hierarchical oppression or can they be reclaimed?

Can high heels be reclaimed as empowerment not oppression?

Almodovar Life can be murder in high heels
Almodovar “Life can be murder in high heels”

“I love wearing high heels. I am a cis, mostly hetero feminist woman, and I love this dated, potentially oppressive symbol of heteronormative traditional femininity. Because I like performing femininity (glitter, lipstick, and high, high heels). As a feminist and a student of Women and Gender Studies, I often pondered why painful footwear (and the more painful, the better) should hold me in its thrall.” – Everyday Feminism

“Some say high-heeled look reduces women to sex objects. It’s time to change the old-fashioned view and reclaim it as a symbol of empowerment.” – megarip