I was recently in Nice, France where a ban was imposed on women wearing “burkinis” on public beaches. The burkini is a style of women’s swimwear that covers a woman’s body more modestly than modern swimsuits that tend to go for full exposure. They were designed with Islamic women in mind.
Burkinis were banned because they were deemed offensive by the Nice government, and decidedly “un-French.” Women should not be so covered up on the beach, it was claimed, and besides, this is not the place to practice your religion. Though the ban was rescinded a few weeks later, the sentiment remains:
Nicolas Sarkozy says he will impose a nationwide ban on burkinis if re-elected to the presidency in 2017, positioning himself as a strong defender of French values and tough on immigration.
It would be interesting to know what the exact legal regulations are for swimsuit size and coverage. Is my sister’s one-piece bordering on too much skin coverage? Should my bikini be a bit smaller? If we just cut off a burkini to mid-thigh or took off the sleeves, would that suffice?
As a New York Times reporter recently pointed out, this recent ban is quite ironic given the fact that 50 years ago women were being fined on European beaches for wearing bikinis, which were considered much too skimpy and completely inappropriate. Too sexual, too immodest, too revealing. (“From Bikinis to Burkinis, Regulating What Women Wear”)
I’ve decided that if there are going to be laws about what is and is not worn on beaches, then let’s be fair about it. Take the men’s speedo, for example. (I’ll bet Sarkozy wears one!) These tight-fitting little suits completely outline, well, we know what they outline, for all the world to see. Revealing is an understatement. Cover your children’s eyes.
If exposure of genitals isn’t enough for a ban on speedos, then surely the fact that most men look perfectly ridiculous in them should be. If women can be ticketed for too little or too much clothing on the beach, then surely we can have a ban on “ridiculous-looking beach attire on men.”
It seems that I am not the only one with this idea. A group of French Muslims recently called for such a ban on “woefully-endowed white walruses terrorizing our kids in public.” In other words, overweight men in speedos:
For the sake of our traumatized children and the very soul of our Republic, we must crush this shameless cult of sagging manboobs, shrivelled racoon balls and itsy-bitsy Sarkozian wee wees!
Yikes! There you have it!
Just to be clear, I love, love, love the city of Nice. It is like a second home to me, and I deeply mourn the loss of life and sense of security that occurred in the recent Bastille Day attack when innocent lives were lost.
I also love the French people, in large part because of what they have always stood for: liberty, equality and brotherhood. Unfortunately, this recent ban on the burkini violates these beautiful French principles.
When are governments going to learn that trying to control people’s freedom of expression, including peaceful religious expression and what they wear, is quite simply a losing proposition?
Power to the Journey