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April 26th 2017 print

Peter Smith

Islam’s Covergirls

One doesn't expect too much from the latest iterations of Western feminist thought, least of all thought itself, and the defence of the male-imposed burka and hijab makes the point. With "friends" like that, perhaps it's time for lawmakers to protect Muslim women from misogynist coercion

oz burqa 2The new citizenship test for intending migrants will probably be window dressing. Clearly it is aimed at Muslims, which is entirely appropriate. They are the ones who have problems fitting in; wherever they go in the West. But asking people to commit to certain values and eschew others is close to worthless, unless combined with a lie-detector test. And I doubt the ABC would agree to that, if you get my meaning.

Maybe it’s time to reconsider something tangible like dress standards. My club has them and they work well. You always have the choice of staying out. It’s a question of how the matter is approached.

To be clear, within the confines of prevailing standards of decency, people should have the freedom to dress as they wish in purely public places. But the key phrase is ‘as they wish’. Our values are not consistent with any group of women being forced to wear what they would not freely choose to wear. The intolerant cannot be tolerated when it bears down on a vulnerable group of our fellow citizens.

In this case it is plain that the face of intolerance puts many women in unattractive clothing they would not freely choose to wear. We know this by applying self-reflection. We personally, would find it intolerable to dress from head to toe in black serge (or in any other colour) when walking on a hot Australian summer’s day. We also know this from looking at pictures of the way women chose to dress in Egypt, or in Afghanistan, or in Iran in earlier times when free of Islamic religious strictures. Empathy and common observation tells the tale. (editor: the picture below is of Cairo University students in 1978. Not a hijab to be seen.)

cairo university 1978

It is an affront to our value of gender equality to acquiesce to a particular group of women being forced, pressured or cajoled into wearing dowdy coveralls. We owe it to Muslim women in Australia to do something about it.

Dutton’s toughened migrant entry criteria could require would-be Muslim women migrants to agree to a dress code broadly consistent with modern Australian standards. Or, better and less intrusively, maybe it should be a case of broadcasting loudly and openly in advance: “Please don’t apply if you want to wear a burka because refusal often offends.”

If that is too high a price to pay to enter one of the best, if not the best, country in the world; so be it. Of course, this would get the usual suspects – orchestrated women in scarves, left-wingers, greenies – into the streets with protesting placards. But the counter would be to present the policy as pro-women.

I wonder how those Muslim women who yearn to be liberated feel when so-called feminists ratify their subjection at the hands of a patriarchal religious culture. Women who dress in skirts, high heels and have stylish hairdos should not reach the false and naive conclusion that there are millions upon millions of women out there who prefer to be draped head to toe in a shapeless bag. They are not aliens. (editor: Cairo University, 2004. Cover up, girls. The misogynists of “the most feminist religion” insist you dress as ordered.)

cairo university 2004

Taking away a right is always contentious. But in this case, if it were possible to take away one right from Muslim migrant women — to dress in a specific way in specific places — it would serve to give them and their daughters, and their daughters in turn, much greater freedom express themselves as they wish. It would give them greater opportunity to integrate into the broader Australian community. It would be a good bargain for them, as it would be for the broader Australian community.

It would also give a positive signal to Muslim women already resident in Australia who wish to break free of oppressive cultural or religious practices. It is not politically feasible to do as Ataturk did and ban the hijab in all educational institutions and in the public service. Imagine Buckley’s chance of getting that through and then divide it by a sextillion (or whatever huge number you prefer). However, creating a supportive environment which encourages as many Muslim women as possible into the mainstream is important in breaking down barriers.

Look at it all another way. Short of stopping Muslim immigration entirely, the best option is to ensure, so far as possible, that those who come in will fit in. Mothers, wives and daughters in burkas is a sure sign that ain’t gonna happen.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Comments [9]

  1. Bill Martin says:

    Well written, as always Peter, and makes all the sense in the world, but what’s the point? The status of women under Islam is most certainly atrocious, to say the least, but that, by itself, is a matter for Muslims. The “traditional” attire of all local Muslims, male and female, is most certainly a visual affront to us, but, ironically, it also serves as an unmistakable indicator of their ever increasing presence and their audacity in demonstrating their rock-solid rejection of our values. The burka is simply an insignificant issue, serving only the propaganda apparatus of all Muslim apologists and rabid feminists. It is Islam itself, in its horrendous entirety, that needs to be called out, loud and clear and incessantly, proclaiming our awareness of its design on us, their intent to subjugate us all under its barbaric system, and declaring our firm commitment to resist it with all our might. Everything short of that is absolutely useless. Sadly and alarmingly western leadership, including our own, is gutless and incredibly stupid on many accounts, but especially concerning Islam.

  2. Doubting Thomas says:

    The last time I can recall anyone seriously challenging the status of a religion in this country is many years ago when the High Court ruled, in effect, that the then nascent Church of Scientology was a religion for all Constitutional purposes. People who care can look it up, but I suggest that Australian governments will have no chance of getting judicial support for laws or actions to control, let alone to reform Islam in this country. Immigration control on the basis of factors other than religion might have some slight effect to keep out the most obviously undesirable elements, but as things currently stand the supply of home-grown wannabe martyrs may already be potentially inexhaustible.

  3. Homer Sapien says:

    Amen Peter. “The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded….”

  4. pgang says:

    Speaking of gender equality, how about this gem which is popping up in just about every corporate job ad now:

    “Whitehaven Coal is committed to increasing the number of women and Aboriginal people in our workforce and welcomes applicants who reflect diversity of gender and culture.”

    So as a non aboriginal male I am clearly not welcome to apply for positions at Whitehaven Coal. Message received.

    But I digress. It seems that the only way to sort this mess out is to eradicate the concept of multiculturalism in Australia. To start with it might be an idea to educate the public about what it actually means, because most Australians think it means the old (good) system of immigration and assimilation, but with a wider spread of ethnicity than we had in the past. They don’t realise that it means equality of culture, and deliberate non-assimilation into nation-hood. Islamists are in fact on the correct side of the socio/political ledger in contemporary Australia, and they seem to be very aware of that.

    Then we need to focus on something symbolic that everyone can still identify as Australian, around which to rally public opinion against the stupidity of multiculturalism. Anzac day is the obvious candidate for that.

  5. gardner.peter.d says:

    Feeling perky today so I have been toying with an idea. Suppose it was mandatory for all Muslim women to wear either a niqab or burka when outside their homes. In Australia. Muslims say they wear them to show us who they are as they are proud to be Muslim not Western, or it’s cultural, nothing to do with Islam. Well, I do quite like knowing who they are, too. I wonder what the ABC and its fellow apologists for Islam would say, having argued for years it is a Muslim’s right to wear these things. It would b e wonderful to see Muslims and the ABC protesting at such an outrageous impost, and refusing to wear theses damnable things.

    Any views?

  6. Jody says:

    I find it totally inconsistent for an ideologically-driven workplace to tolerate, even encourage, the wearing of suffocating desert ‘tarps’ and head coverings while simultaneously expressing a belief in “workplace equality between the sexes”. These two positions are totally at odds with each other. But the people are compliant after many years of propaganda and willingly go along with this, no matter how shallow or unworkable it is, refusing to consider the contradictions because it’s much safer to ‘tow the line’. I’ve just had a thoughtful comment about workplace equality between the sexes deleted from “The Australian” website because the ideological mindset is now so entrenched that no further thoughts on the matter WILL be tolerated. This not only reveals a staggering lack of intellectual curiosity but a willingness to adopt a collectivist view about your own values. I wonder if people were always this feckless or am I hopelessly idealistic in believing people should think for themselves? My argument rested on the fact that men are temperamentally different and far less willing to engage in the ruthless negotiation and head-stomping which men find necessary on the long climb to the top. That when push comes to shove women will, more often than not, back off when the going gets touch – where men will forge ahead regardless. Also, women define themselves in many more ways apart from they do for a living and this is thrown into sharp relief when men retire and find they’ve hit a brick wall.
    Apparently, these comments were offense enough to be deleted from “The Australian”.

    • Jody says:

      Woops, I meant “women are temperamentally different…”

    • pgang says:

      Jody, while your comments aren’t in the least offensive, I do disagree. In my experience there is nothing to distinguish between the sexes in the ladder climbers of the corporate world, and I think women who retire from their all-consuming careers in future will face the same existential problems that men do. By the way, most men I know can’t wait to retire. Successful corporate types all share the ability to run with the culture and sell it if necessary, regardless of their personal opinions. It is hard to determine whether this is as a result of, or a cause of, their ability to find a patron to see them through the ranks. Some of these people are also highly talented and dedicated. Others are not so special.

      In regards to sexual equality and desert tarps, the latter conforms to our official multi-culti policy which takes precedence over all else within current PC rules. The issue of modern sexual equality is pretty vague anyway, and I’m not surprised that it takes a back seat these days when it’s convenient for the PC’ers to ignore it.