The policing of women’s bodies and what they decide to wear is getting out of hand in both the United States and around the world.
In the United States, we as a society are constantly criticizing what women wear, from asking in court systems what women are wearing at the time of their sexual assaults to creating sexist dress codes in our public code that prevent young girls from wearing menial articles of clothing such as spaghetti strapped tank tops in fear of “distracting” male students from receiving their education.
In France earlier this week, a Muslim woman on a beach in Nice was cited with a ticket by the police for not “wearing an outfit respecting good morals and secularism,” according to French news agency, Agence French-Presse.
She wore leggings, a tunic and a headscarf while on the beach with her children. In three photos that were posted by The Guardian, the woman is seen laying on the beach, four police officers on their way to approach her.
In the second photograph, the Muslim woman can be seen with her tunic partially removed and all four police officers watching her do so; and in a third photo, she’s holding the tunic out to the police officers while one officer is knelt down inspecting it.
Nice and other various French cities have banned “burkinis,” a type of swimwear for Muslim women that correlates with Islamic dress code and other clothing that “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks,” which refers to the attack that occurred this past summer on Bastille Day where a cargo truck drove into crowds, killing 86 people and injuring more than 300 others. The ban is said to be “necessary to protect the population,” but I do not buy this at all.
The wording of the Muslim woman’s ticket also indicates that her outfit was not respectful of good morals and feeds into the idea that Islam is an immoral religion, which it is not. Are nuns in France being asked to not wear their habits because their outfits do not “respect good morals and secularism?” Doubtful.
While I agree there are terrible people out there who use Islam to push radical ideologies (see the Syrian Civil War for more details), I disagree with France that this woman deserved to have her clothes taken off and inspected to ensure she was not a threat. This woman was at the beach with her children, not bothering anyone.
What is worse, according to The Guardian, a witness to the scene said she heard other people around the situation saying things such as “Go home,” and applauding the police for making this woman remove her clothing.
While I understand that all of this is supposed to help protect the people, it is more harmful to average citizens than anything. These rules are meant to target people who identify or “look” Muslim, and this leads to more profiling by law enforcement and stereotyping in our society. If policies like this are going to be set in place, I hope and want them to be set in place for all people and religions.In order to make sure this rule and ban is fair, nuns should not be wearing their habits and priests should not be wearing their collars.
If you are going to police one gender’s or one religion’s right to clothing, all of them should be policed.
CORRECTION: The original poster of the photos was not The Guardian. The photos were taken from vantagenews.com and were used on The Guardian’s website.
This article has been edited and updated by the original author.
This article was originally published by BG Falcon Media’s independent student publication, The BG News, which can be found here.