Thursday, August 20, 2009

Burqini Broohaha

At the risk of dipping my toes into political waters, I feel like I have to ask: what is the problem with NOT showing too much skin?

The outfit now popularly known as the "burqini", a full body swimsuit (pictured), is causing problems in Europe.

In a Paris suburb a woman was removed from a public pool because of her burqini. The reason: public swimming pools forbid swimming while fully clothed. Meanwhile, in the Italian town of Varallo Sesia have barred burquini clad women from pools and rivers. The reasoning there: the sight of a masked woman could disturb small children. Come on. The sight of my pasty white flesh dripping over a barely visible speedo could disturb small children (and grown adults, and possibly even the recently deceased), but I haven't been barred from Italian river bathing.

Gianluca Buonanno, mayor of Varallo Sesia added this: "Imagine a Western woman bathing in a bikini in a Muslim country. The consequences could be decapitation, prison or deportation. We are merely prohibiting the use of the burqini."

I understand that there are Islamic modesty issues which are not as significant for other religious groups. And I understand how these modesty issues can cause problems when trying to balance religious tolerance with security issues, by requiring the hair to be exposed for ID photographs, for example.

But, really, how is wearing too many clothes while swimming a problem? I am no fan of enforced female modesty - I think societies and religions that demean women do so at their own peril - however I can see no justification for banning the burqini. It is a visible, but inoffensive symbol of religious belief, like a yarmulke or a crucifix necklace.

Let it go, people. There are so many more important things in the world.

And now, back to more lighthearted posts.

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