This Islamic garment is a symbol of oppression for a variety of mostly straightforward reasons, and as such is morally reprehensible. What I just said shouldn’t be controversial at all to uphold, were it not for the raging storm of political correctness that has swept through our culture lately. So I’m not going to go through the ideological reasons of how and why the burqa sucks, because to me it’s so trivial. Plus I don’t even invoke any of that when I see a woman in a burqa: the silent war of cultures, the sickening throwback to a savage era of female subjugation to men, etc…
My immediate reaction whenever I spot a burqa-girl comes as an intimate shocking shudder down my spine. What an awkward and obtrusive image! It ironically generates the same kind of silent tension in common social settings as would the presence of a completely naked person sitting next to you in the bus, or nonchalantly walking into a bank or a restaurant. Whether one tries to mingle with people while naked or hermetically covered from head to toe, the absurd contrast to what everyone else is wearing screams out loud at the crucial subtleties we commonly take for granted in the spectrum of human relations.
Our clothes keep us warm, seal off and protect our most delicate body parts from environmental damage, conceal our genitals and breasts so as to not rub in everyone’s faces our crude sexual attractiveness or lack there of, but also allow us to invent a public identity through a personalized combination of designs, accessories, and possibly symbols and slogans. So our clothes enhance our individuality but it’s our face that forms the epicenter of our public persona: we cognitively anchor the representation of anyone’s personality to that person’s unique facial features. We are prone to recognize faces out of random mixes of objects whenever possible, so our brains are primed for this. The face takes up a disproportionately large chunk of our mental representation of human beings as children’s drawings illustrate. Eye contact and facial expressions play an important role in how we relate to others during conversations and even in how we warm up to strangers.
The burqa is a monstrous device because it effectively shaves off the most basic and accessible dimension of identity: the face. The woman hiding underneath it is dehumanized in the eyes of her beholders: she is reduced to an indeterminate object of unspecified form and features. A horse can hide under a burqa, or a clown, or a monkey, or a coffin, or a thief, or a ghost, or a mummy, or a giant noodle. Not only does the burqa erase the wearer’s most human and recognizable trait, her face, but it also razes to the ground all other external symbols of identity: the distinctive combinations of clothing items, styles, accessories, jewelry… How can I empathize with someone in a burqa if all I see is a monochromatic faceless shapeless bag? The wearer is practically interchangeable with anyone else wearing a burqa. There is zero potential for deep or subtle interpersonal relations through such a discomforting barrier. It’s alienating on a human level to be the one who is fully open and exposed while your interlocutor is hiding behind an opaque veil. This makes any kind of interaction with burqa-girls intrinsically awkward.
The burqa has also a perverse X factor that elicits laser beams out of my eyes: in its underhanded way it’s so self-righteously slutty! The entire rationale for it is that you need to fully cover every square inch of your face and body lest any random male passerby spontaneously breaks down and starts to compulsively drool (or worse) all over you. You really think you’re such hot shit that it’s a big deal whether anyone can see your hair or face? Nobody cares! Nobody is aroused by your stupid hair! Get over it!
Not only does wearing the burqa imply an overly sexualized sense of self, but it also silently spells out a moral condemnation of all women who do not abide by such anal and self-demeaning standards of “modesty”. If your standards for socially proper attire are so far removed from the norm that you are practically living in your own moral planet, and that planet is collapsing into a black hole under its own warped field of ‘judgmentality’, there will be a point where the principle of general cultural relativity breaks down in an asymmetric fashion: As viewed from the PC planet, your style is kind of weird and no fun, but perfectly equivalent to whatever they’ve got over there, and while they might not go out of their way to bond with you for one politically correct excuse or another, you must surely be a great girl underneath and the PC crowd wishes you all the best in life. As viewed from your planet, however, the PC crowd is roaming with lustful immodest sluts who seduce every male in their path by flaunting their face and hair, and are so going to burn in hell for it.
The burqa is eerie, alienating, judgmental, demeaning, dehumanizing, and is calling everyone else a whore.
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- Beyond Conservatism: Freedom in a Godless Future
- Robert Spencer’s Connections: The James Jatras File
- A word on modesty --- Theory of (Authoritarian) Mind