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Muslim Women Who Wear Veils Are Choosing to Be Unequal

Even in liberal democracies, Muslim women who cover their faces relegate themselves to second-class citizenship.

Credit: flequi / photo on flickrCredit: flequi / photo on flickrIn October, Canadians voted out Stephen Harper's Conservative Party in favor of Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party. The election sideshow that captivated me most centered on whether a Muslim immigrant from Pakistan, Zunera Ishaq, should wear a niqab during her citizenship ceremony (a niqab is face covering that leaves only a women's eyes visible). Courts had recently struck down the government's ban on niqabs, though it only covered citizenship ceremonies. Harper favored the ban, saying the the niqab is part of an "anti-women" culture. His position gave him momentum in the polls, but also raised cries of Islamophobia and intolerance. Ironically, Harper's take on the niqab is precisely that which liberals and feminists once held.

A long time ago, I was engaged to a woman who wore a hijab, a head scarf that frames the face and, unlike the niqab, leaves a woman's face fully visible. I later lived in the United Arab Emirates, where I taught English to Arab women. All wore the hijab. The differences between the hijab and the niqab are significant. The hijab in no way impedes a women's ability to communicate. In some forms of Islam, extensive covering of a woman's face and body is related to female modesty because it's believed that women seduce men merely by revealing themselves. In any case, women are held responsible for whatever feelings they arouse in men. Billboards all over the Middle East reinforce this as they show variations of two pieces of candy, one wrapped and "safe," one "uncovered" and swarmed by flies, with captions of "Hijab/niqab is security," or "Which candy would you eat?"

Yet all the hijabis I've known personally have spoken out against the niqab as a demeaning practice, something only used by ultra-fundamentalist Muslims. That's because covering the face limits women's opportunity. By taking away the ability to communicate and interact with other humans, face coverings obliterate identity and thus ensure second-class status.

Yet as the Canadian controversy was playing out, voices on the feminist left seemed united in favor of the niqab. Writing at Huffington Post Canada, Shahla Khan Salter lamented that Muslims are "on the brink of losing our fundamental freedoms" if women were forced to remove their face coverings during citizenship ceremonies. I'm not sure why Salter feels the mandate to show your face at a citizenship oath equates to tyranny, but she believes that the anti-niqabi stance derives from "hatred," and she says the 3.4 percent of Canadians who are Muslims all felt threatened by Harper and his minions. She's wrong.

Indeed, a poll found that 57 percent of Toronto's citizens—including 48 percent of its Muslims—support a ban at citizenship ceremonies. At HuffPo Canada, Raheel Raza argued in favor of a more extensive ban of "the niqab and burka in public." She writes, "As a Muslim mother who never saw a niqab when I was growing up in Karachi, Pakistan, I am astonished to see Canada's judiciary caving in to Islamists who have nothing but contempt for Canada's values of gender equality."

Philosophically, I am against state bans of this sort, but that's only one part of the discussion (albeit arguably the most important part from a libertarian perspective). But I agree with Muslims such as Raza who think the niqab is by definition dehumanizing and sexist. Tolerance implies a two-way street, and the niqab is a narrow, one-way alley. Yes, some women choose the niqab, and to chide them as suffering from theological Stockholm Syndrome may be unfair and patronizing. But the fact remains that such women have willfully chosen to be unequal.

That Saudi Arabia has strict dress codes is connected to why women are not allowed to drive or vote. The most powerful Saudi Arabian woman still takes a back seat to any Saudi male. The more covered women are, the less equality they have, and this is quantifiable. Consider life for women under the Taliban, the Islamic State, or Boko Haram. Could Benazir Bhutto have led Pakistan in a niqab?

In secular democracies that protect individual rights and religious expression and practice, we can champion a woman's right to cover herself. But should we be blind to or silent about what the niqab represents? Though we may unequivocally support the right of individuals to make wrong choices, we also reserve the right to criticize such decisions (and to have our decisions criticized as well). The notion that niqab offers women freedom or power should be excoriated for the delusion that it is. Simply, women can have equality or the niqab, but not both.

Photo Credit: flequi / photo on flickr

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  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    Individuals are the focal point of liberty. Without individual freedom, there is no freedom at all.

    And here you think it is ANY of your business what individual women want to wear, whether they cover up most of their face or none of it. What next, you will mandate bikinis for all women so they can be more expressive?

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • Jay Dubya||

    Did we read the same article? The author did not strike me as supporting any ban, but rather was criticizing a specific defense of the niqab coming from the left. "Philosophically, I am against state bans of this sort" sounded pretty straightforward.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    The notion that niqab offers women freedom or power should be excoriated for the delusion that it is. Simply, women can have equality or the niqab, but not both.
  • fuckyougotmine||

    This whole article was just so gross and paternalistic. Bleh.

  • Sevo||

    fuckyougotmine|12.12.15 @ 3:35PM|#
    "This whole article was just so gross and paternalistic. Bleh."

    Given you're a lefty piece of shit, we'll take that under advisement.
    Fuck off, slaver.

  • fuckyougotmine||

    that you think "slaver" is a proportionate or correct term to use for someone who advocates for socialism is astonishing to me. step out of the glibertarian echo chamber for three goddamned seconds.

  • Sevo||

    fuckyougotmine|12.12.15 @ 9:00PM|#
    "that you think "slaver" is a proportionate or correct term to use for someone who advocates for socialism is astonishing to me. step out of the glibertarian echo chamber for three goddamned seconds."

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Sevo, stop pretending like this is about caring about women's rights for you. We all know this is about hating Muslims. You don't seem to get all feminist when it is Christian oppression of women we are talking about.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Can't tell if serious or retarded. Given your previous comments, likely retarded.

  • assman||

    "that you think "slaver" is a proportionate or correct term to use for someone who advocates for socialism is astonishing to me. step out of the glibertarian echo chamber for three goddamned seconds."

    And that is because you don't understand how the world works, how people work or how societies work. Or because you are just delusional. Probably a bit of both.

    Successful socialism is basically slavery. Unsuccessful socialism is a kleptocratic state and a huge black market.

    The Inca society represent the highest achievement of socialists which is enslavement of the whole population and reduction of adults to children.

    Modern communists represent failed socialism since they were essentially huge black markets where the state would regularly steal.

    Everything else is a fantasy that isn't even remotely coherent as a fantasy...think the scrawling of Ursula Leguin.

    But slaver is an apt term for anyone who advocates socialism since the only coherent socialism was the Incan socialism which was in fact mass slavery.

  • Eman||

    that's a real argument

  • Cytotoxic||

    No it's not. Seriously try reading while lucid.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    Fuck off, Tulpa.

  • Cytotoxic||

    There is nothing about that that is anti-freedom. It's not a surprise that an ancap can't grasp that.

  • DarrenM||

    The niqab would certainly give a husband the freedom to tape his wife's mouth shut without anyone noticing.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    I agree with Muslims such as Raza who think the niqab is by definition dehumanizing and sexist. Tolerance implies a two-way street, and the niqab is a narrow, one-way alley. Yes, some women choose the niqab, and to chide them as suffering from theological Stockholm Syndrome may be unfair and patronizing. But the fact remains that such women have willfully chosen to be unequal.
  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    He doesn't quite say he supports outright bans, but the closest he gets to not liking bans is not quite close enough in my mind:

    Philosophically, I am against state bans of this sort, but that's only one part of the discussion (albeit arguably the most important part from a libertarian perspective).
  • Sir Doombringer of SexBot||

    Bans aren't needed. The public should take it upon themselves to shun and distance those wearing the uniforms of oppression. These outfits, hijab, burka, niqab should be treated with the same instant revultion as a certain type of facial hair styling from 1940's Germany. Think about that, a certain style of shaving is gone forever because people consider the association distasteful. Germans get it, you won't find anybody working for Mercedes sporting that lip-do.

    You should be free to wear whatever you want, but everyone else should be free to treat you like the stupid asshole you are for parading around in asshole costumes. No quarter is given in Western society for the Adolf stache, it's about time that this reprehensible garb for women is treated the same. Government doesn't need to be involved, but you want to dress like a violent fundamentalist or a dirt worshipping idiot, then get the fuck out of my restaurant, or business, or guess what "we are going to have to let you go, because we can't have our customers feeling uncomfortable from someone who represents our company dressing like those who want to oppress and murder them".

    Sorry Muslims, time for a fashion upgrade. It's beyond weird and creepy to hang onto stupid scarves so vehemently when their symbolism has been so completely hijacked. That is only a problem of your religion's PR, not with everyone else's reaction to it. Want to be the 'religion of peace'? Then learn to fucking dress like it.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Sounds like you are promoting your version of social justice.

  • Cytotoxic||

    I see you've run out of real arguments extra fast.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    One of these days, Nathaniel Branden's Head may come up with a clever remark. But not today. Let's hope it happens before the water in its jar freezes for the winter.

  • Cytotoxic||

    If you can't discern between what the author is saying and actually supporting a ban then you should need to get better at thinking.

  • Vampire||

    ^This

  • classical liberal||

    Look, sure it's a woman's right to live her life the way she wants, but certain things she does demean ALL women. Like when she engages in pornography, votes Republican, or wears a burka. You see, she creates dementian rays that can pass thru rock and strike all women around the world, thus demeaning them. So women can only be free if some women are a little freer and can decide what the others are allowed to do. Understand now?

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    You nailed it. Bitching about women who choose to wear a niqab is no different that bitching about women who choose to do porn. How about we leave women to make their choices, and leave it at that?

  • Cytotoxic||

    So many strawmen, so many stupid commenters.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Why are Objectivists so fond of tautological statements?

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    You are neither classical or liberal....trolling here is going down hill. At least Tony seems to CARE.

  • Cytotoxic||

    RTFA dumbass.

  • dan'o en barrel||

    The belief that women mustn't show their hair, face or skin other than what covers their hands because it will tempt men seems to make a declarative statement. "Men in our culture are undisciplined weaklings, incapable of moral behavior." I buy the notion that it is a symbol of a culture in which women are lesser beings than men.

    That said, I agree that individuals are free to believe whatever bullshit they want to, and we are free to ridicule them mercilessly for our own amusement.

  • ||

    "But I agree with Muslims such as Raza who think the niqab is by definition dehumanizing and sexist. (...) But the fact remains that such women have willfully chosen to be unequal."

    Yeah, whatever. High heels are sexist. Women's different hairdo is sexist. Skirts are sexist. Nah, almost all clothes are sexist, in whatever way they complement female forms. Make-up is sexist. Women's preferences in literature, TV, and movies are sexist. -- Simply, any preference will produce different results, and combinations of different preferences may produce dramatically different results. So any woman who pursues (statistically) different preferences chooses to be "unequal". These different preferences and results mean that any such woman is superior and inferior in some ways. If you believe you have analyzed the situations of all these women, the trade-offs and opportunity costs and developed *the' - there can only be one - objective ranking/order of preferences and goods (handling intransitivity - see Arrow - and incommensurability) then congratulations. I doubt it, though. But I would like to read your definitions of sexism and equality (equalities). Seriously.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    Well said. Thanks for taking the time to pound that out.

  • Sevo||

    "But I would like to read your definitions of sexism and equality (equalities). Seriously."

    It's not difficult: Wearing high-heels, cosmetics, etc (western 'sexism' in womens' appearance) does not presume to make the male powerless in the face of temptation. Similarly, suits, ties and grooming by makes confers no release of responsibility on the female in the west.
    Muslim head and face coverings do, thereby accepting the unequal status of male and female.

  • Sevo||

    Oops: "...grooming by MALES confers..."

  • ||

    A matter of degree. And this hardly is a working definition. What, sexism is what makes a man powerless in the face of temptation? Sexism is a man's claim to be powerless in the face of temptation? Sexism is the absence of a sex's reponsibility?

  • Sevo||

    You asked for definitions of inequality; you just got one. Depending on your definition of 'sexism', you got that, too as the Muslim dress presumes that inequality, and I'd call that 'sexism'.
    Now if you want to claim cultural relativism between a post-industrial west and a 'pre-feudal' religion, especially as regards treatment of women, you go right ahead. I've got plenty of popcorn.

  • ||

    You didn't provide that either. These women choose to subject themselves to whatever this code of dress means. I'm not talking about countries in which these codes are under the threat of (government) violence, are formal law.

    I want to see this played out. Start by defining equality, and not just by giving an example of it.

  • ||

    You may want to define inequality.

  • classical liberal||

    in·e·qual·i·ty
    /inəˈkwälədē/
    noun
    A word used by some politicians to evoke envy in would-be voters.

  • Sevo||

    Sevens|12.12.15 @ 2:19PM|#
    "You didn't provide that either."
    Yes, I did, to those who can read.

    "These women choose to subject themselves to whatever this code of dress means"
    Yes, they chose inequality.
    They cannot go out without male escort, cannot drive, and more I'm not going to waste time mentioning.
    Did you have a point, other than some silly tu quoque?

  • ||

    "Yes, they chose inequality." And still you haven't managed to define it. Do people who enter into contracts choose "inequality"? There is detriment. And exchange. Is any detriment "inequality"? Or do you want to measure whether something of equal value is exchanged?

  • Sevo||

    Sevens|12.12.15 @ 4:41PM|#
    "Yes, they chose inequality." And still you haven't managed to define it"

    I can see that reading was not part of your education. I'm sorry about that; please get some assistance from someone to read this to you:
    "They cannot go out without male escort, cannot drive, and more I'm not going to waste time mentioning."

  • ||

    Heh. That's not a definition. It's an example. There's no semblance of a systematic analysis in what you've produced here.

    And still you haven't managed to define it. Do people who enter into contracts choose "inequality"? There is detriment. And exchange. Is any detriment "inequality"? Or do you want to measure whether something of equal value is exchanged?

  • Sevo||

    "And still you haven't managed to define it. Do people who enter into contracts choose "inequality"? There is detriment. And exchange. Is any detriment "inequality"? Or do you want to measure whether something of equal value is exchanged?"

    Heh.
    See below. You are welcome to find someone to waste time on your sophistry; not me.

  • SQRLSY One||

    A culture that honors and respects my choice to be enslaved (chopped up and eaten?) by those who I wish to enslave/oppress/torture me, is ***NOT*** a culture that should be afforded respect by decent humans!!!!!!!! Duh!!!!

  • Hank Phillips||

    Actually, as soon as he started talking about the male escort service your faithometer might've begun beeping...

  • Sevo||

    Just in case:
    "And still you haven't managed to define it."
    "Inequality" in this case refers to the relative freedoms accorded males and females in Muslim culture; they are unequal.

    "Do people who enter into contracts choose "inequality"? There is detriment. And exchange. Is any detriment "inequality"? Or do you want to measure whether something of equal value is exchanged?"
    Ah, yes, sophistry by the bushel. I'll pass; try it on someone who likes word-games.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Go, Sevo, go! Amen, Dude!

    Semi-short and sweet summary: In goat-fucker-land, the men and women will be equal, when MEN have to obscure all but a narrow slit to see through, lest the WOMEN see a few square inches of their skin! When women rape men over there, because they just can NOT control themselves, when they see some male skin... And the MEN start to get blamed for the female-imposed rapes, for being tempter-dudes (male version of temptress; I cannot conjugate that, I must be some kind of subtle sexist), for dressing too sexily... THEN we will start to approach equality in goat-fucker-land! ... Cum to think of it, I am looking forward to TRUE equality in the USA as well! When my opportunities to be a well-paid and well-laid naked-dwonky-dancer are equal to the plentiful opportunities afforded to naked-titty-dancers, THEN we will be equal! I am NOT holding my breath...

  • ||

    SQwhatever: "When my opportunities to be a well-paid and well-laid naked-dwonky-dancer are equal to the plentiful opportunities afforded to naked-titty-dancers, THEN we will be equal!"

    Useful. Your opportunities depend on the preferences of others. Extend that. In a world where people buy as much classical music as they buy pop music (note opportunities of the respective artists), as many statues as they buy paintings, as many paintings of trees as of cats, as of giraffes, buy as much French cuisine as they buy Italian, buy as many skirts as they buy pants... and so forth... then we will be equal. That's egalitarianism. A totalitarian philosophy.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Well duh, yeah, thanks for pointing out the obvious... Did I ever say, Government Almighty should ENFORCE my "right" to be equally paid as a naked-dwonky dancer? If I said that I spent $100,000 in my min-wage hours-work as an "artist", smearing dog poop on the walls, and NO ONE paid me the min wage or better, for my efforts, would you PLEASE amuse us all by pointing out the flaw in my logic? ... You have STILL not addressed the FACT that goat-fuckers in goat-fucker-land, are enslaving themselves to some barbaric ideas... Not that I am saying that USA Government Almighty military force will or can solve that... But dip-shits in western lands are HONORING their idiotic choices! Can I PLEASE have your permission to find that (supposedly) narrow sliver of territory, where I use my FREE SPEECH to condemn something as STUPID and EVIL, without actually saying that Government Almighty should FIX it with violence and/or the threat of violence? That IS a middle ground that exists, you know! If you had some humility, you could SEE that! Go work on your humility, PELASE! (Example: Divorce is bad. Did I say, outlaw divorce? Duh!)

  • Sevo||

    SQRLSY One, you may have done what I thought wasn't gonna happen, run the troll off.
    This bullshit machine is a tulpa-level troll, willing to make the argument that, since the women "agreed" to the inequality (as if there were an option), they were therefore not unequal. Remember tulpa positing that shit about 'you're a voter, so you therefore deserve what voters deliver'?
    In fact, maybe this is a new tulpa sock; there's nothing in the supposed 'arguments' that tulpa hasn't floated before.

  • ||

    Sevo: "Remember tulpa positing that shit about 'you're a voter, so you therefore deserve what voters deliver'?"

    Seriously, think a little. Many voters did not consent to the voting process. Yet, the women relevant here do not "choose democratically", they make individual choices. It's called autonomy. Given your attention span - and the other "abilities" you have demonstrated - it may be necessary to remind you that this is about women who are not under the threat of (government) force. This isn't about SQ's fabled Land of the Goats, nor about yours with the unicorn.

  • Sevo||

    Sevens|12.13.15 @ 6:58AM|#
    "Seriously, think a little"

    A polka now Sevens? Keep dancing.

  • ||

    @SQ

    You can assign the label "equal" based on whim and arbitrariness. (Call it moral sentiment or intuitionism.) But apart from rhetorics (which you didn't deliver - nice try with the goat, though), that's not convincing. This is because equality is conceived of as a fundamental concept, one that orders society. Government force does not matter to it; force merely imposes order, a prior idea of order, the prior concept of equality. You can assert that the price for pretzels (or goats) is "unequal" (try "unfair"), but that provides no concept of order.

    And when equality is a matter of comparison, it seems to be impossible to stop comparing. That's when you get the result of totalitarian egalitarianism, which I've outlined just before. (It, by the way, is a fundamental concept, and does provide an idea to order society.) Considering that such totalitarian egalitarianism, even without government force, is probably anathema to those in favor of liberty you may want to examine your feelings of "equality".

  • Sevo||

    "And when equality is a matter of comparison, it seems to be impossible to stop comparing. That's when you get the result of totalitarian egalitarianism, which I've outlined just before."

    Yes, if women weren't forced to wear rags on their heads, our newest troll tells us we'd all be commies!
    That's some serious jitterbugging, there!

  • ||

    "Yes, if women weren't forced to wear rags on their heads, our newest troll tells us we'd all be commies!" No, arbitrariness doesn't necessarily lead to totalitarian egalitarianism (or communism). It's similar to randomness (if a bunch of unicorns were typing...). But I'm talking about conceptual coherence - fundamental consistency - regarding a principle that orders society. You, on the other hand, are talking nonsense. Your insistence to idiotically parrot yourself in the assumption that women are forced, while I explicitly presuppose that there is no such force, is merely one "highlight".

  • You're Kidding||

    Anthropological differences between male and female ensure that.

  • ||

    Sevo: '"Inequality" in this case refers to the relative freedoms accorded males and females in Muslim culture; they are unequal.'

    At an auction, a person buys a statue in exchange for a certain amount of money. The seller is legally obligated ("bound") to provide the statue. The buyer is legally obligated ("bound") to provide the money. Their respective freedom is restricted, differently. Is this difference akin to "inequality"?
    (Sophistry would be asking you at what point the stupid things you say added up to a pile. You say one stupid thing. Is it a pile when you say another stupid thing? No? Why then can it ever become a pile, when all you do is add another stupid thing, and another, and so forth?)

  • Sevo||

    Sophistry would be the dishonest 'argument' you're attempting. Stupidity would be expecting anyone to waste time with the read herrings you're dragging about.

  • biljay||

    As a libertarian I do not think they should be required. I do think the curse of mother nature on men makes a woman's face give women power. The man desires the woman and the woman desires the man desire her. This desire for her gives her more negotiating power. All relationships; personal, state, employer/employee, are about power. Do I have enough power to benefit from this relationship? Confucius told a young male protege to not look at a pretty woman. If he did look at a pretty woman, he should stay alert.

  • ||

    "...the curse of mother nature on men..."

    This is a crock of undiluted shit. Are you a monkey or a man?

  • ||

    "This is a crock of undiluted shit. Are you a monkey or a man?" Both.

  • Ceci n'est pas un woodchipper||

    With all due respect, horsefeathers. People like looking at whoever they happen to find attractive, gender, sex, age, whatever notwithstanding. And relationships are only about power if you only establish relationships to gain power over someone.

  • You're Kidding||

    "relationships are only about power if you only establish relationships to gain power over someone."

    You aren't married. Are you?

  • techgump||

    Did I pass through a black hole last night? I donated to Reason for reason; not to read about someone's opinion of what women should and shouldn't wear, and how polls support this position via legislative ban.
    And most of all, this comment, "Simply, women can have equality or the niqab, but not both" is the pinnacle of hypocrisy. Yet another man declaring what clothing choice is best for women. Oh, the irony.
    Terrible article.

  • ||

    Read the conclusion.

    "n secular democracies that protect individual rights and religious expression and practice, we can champion a woman's right to cover herself. But should we be blind to or silent about what the niqab represents? Though we may unequivocally support the right of individuals to make wrong choices, we also reserve the right to criticize such decisions (and to have our decisions criticized as well). The notion that niqab offers women freedom or power should be excoriated for the delusion that it is. Simply, women can have equality or the niqab, but not both."

    Caleb clearly says that we can criticize people for making bad choices without taking those choices away.

  • Number 2||

    If that was his point, then the article is poorly written. I also came away from the article with the impression that the author would support a ban of the wearing of the niqab.

    He criticized Shahla Khan Salter for making the entirely correct argument that a law prohibiting women from wearing a garment of their choice IS a violation of their fundamental freedom. That does not sound like a very libertarian position to me.

  • Sevo||

    Number 2|12.12.15 @ 3:38PM|#
    "If that was his point, then the article is poorly written. I also came away from the article with the impression that the author would support a ban of the wearing of the niqab."

    Really?
    "Philosophically, I am against state bans of this sort, but that's only one part of the discussion (albeit arguably the most important part from a libertarian perspective)."
    Is reading difficult?

  • classical liberal||

    [quote]That does not sound like a very libertarian position to me.[/quote]

    Yea but we all KNOW that people simply cannot be free if we're allowed to make bad choices. That's why we need more-equal people to tell us what choices are not acceptable.

  • Sevo||

    "That's why we need more-equal people to tell us what choices are not acceptable."

    You'd prefer is was illegal for them to make comment?

  • classical liberal||

  • Sevo||

    OK, but you seem to be tossing around pedantries and asking to be misunderstood. See your 'inequalities' above; was that meant to inform an argument or just get your moniker on the page?

  • classical liberal||

  • Sevo||

    Oh, you have nothing to add, just random BS. Now I know I can ignore any and all of your posts.

  • MikeNM||

    I don't think that it's the government's place to tell anyone how to dress. On a personal level, though, I think that the author is mostly right. I typically appreciate the intent behind (freely adopted) modest dress, and my feelings about the hijab are overall pretty positive... but the niqab is creepy. Women have the right to wear it, but it is naturally going to make other people uncomfortable when someone's face is concealed. People read each other through faces, and when someone's face is covered, we can't detect their feelings or intentions. I can't establish the typical level of trust with someone whose face is hidden, and that's inevitably going to have downstream effects. It seems like it must result in niqab wearing women being marginalized, and, at least in societies where it's not the norm, wearing it seems kind of rude.

  • ||

    Local community standards (in public), then. Of course this will have the (side) effect of relegating these women, of increasing their isolation, and restricting their options. // I agree with your take on the relevance of faces.

  • John C. Randolph||

    the niqab is creepy

    I concur that it's creepy, about like a black balaclava or a KKK hood, but I don't want the government to have any power to tell anyone what they may or may not wear.

    I ALSO will resist any government effort to punish anyone for saying that the niqab is creepy.

    -jcr

  • You're Kidding||

    Dogs are also capable of reading human faces. That has a lot to do with the symbiotic relationship they've developed with man over the mlllennia.

  • ||

    By the way, I suggest reading Robson, Dressing Constitutionally, Cambridge UP.

  • Sevo||

    From the abstract:
    "Our garments often raise First Amendment issues of expression or religion, but they also prompt questions of equality on the basis of gender, race, and sexuality."
    Not to mention SJW bullshit piles.
    No thanks.

  • ||

    Says the guy with the mood disorder who doesn't manage to define equality, yet goes on and on about it. (The mood isn't relevant to this point; it's just an obstruction.) There's "SJW stuff" in it. That doesn't remove the other stuff.

  • Sevo||

    Sevens|12.12.15 @ 4:47PM|#
    "Says the guy with the mood disorder who doesn't manage to define equality, yet goes on and on about it."
    Says the ignormus who find not being allowed out without an escort "equality".

    " (The mood isn't relevant to this point; it's just an obstruction.) There's "SJW stuff" in it. That doesn't remove the other stuff."
    Your stupidity is relevant.

  • Sevo||

    BTW, Sevens, I ordered that book, just so I can laugh at you in the future with background data. It's a 'scholarly work', meaning the publisher presumes students will have to buy it as an assigned reading and pay the premium.
    Seems the resellers aren't so thrilled; good used for what a Starbucks coffee costs.
    I'll be happy to 'discuss' it with you....

  • ||

    If you're under the impression that I endorse all of its conclusions, then you're under another wrong impression. That aside, your analysis of pricing is scintillating. It's interesting that you're getting further into this. If I'm not too bored by the fanfare, goat, unicorn, and what other zoological finesse you can muster (this is not encouragement) by then, sure discussing it might be worth something.

  • Suicidy||

    Yep. And some women CHOOSE to let a guy beat the shit out of them too.

  • Silelen||

    I assume you're talking about BDSM, which is the only situation I'm aware of where a person chooses to let someone beat them. And it's entirely within one's rights to do so. And it's none of your business.

    If, on the other hand, you're referring to domestic violence, then no, the people in those situations are not choosing to be beaten. Although they may feel, for whatever reason, that they don't want to put the person doing the beating in jail. That's a much trickier subject, when you care about personal liberty and individual choice.

    The wearing of a niqab, or the line between consensual BDSM and domestic violence, is a tricky topic. One that people outside of the situation are unlikely to fully understand.

  • Suicidy||

    Right, and the domestic abuse fanatic NEVER applies to Islamic families and their oppression of women, right? And no, in no way was I discussing BDSM.

  • Agent Cupcake||

    If a man wore a naqab, that would be equal. As it stands, this covering the face (the FACE!) is pure evil - it's sexism, but it's like quantum sexism. It's fucking evil. And any person who thinks a woman is choosing to wear one is insane.

    I don't believe that most women freely choose to wear them. I think if given half a chance, they'd rip them off and feel the sunlight on their faces and never go back. But they don't have that choice.

    I do believe they choose their own slavery. But man, I wish they didn't.

  • ||

    Sadly you are wrong. Many women choose to wear them and will fight tooth and nail to keep wearing one.

    I suspect after wearing one for some period of time it becomes a security blanket, particularly in societies where the men are undisciplined savages.

  • ||

    I'm not suggesting that this aspect is all there is to them, but consider this dress as any other uniform. The degree of uniformity is "simply" greater with this one. So whatever advantages, and disadvantages, uniforms have, is presumably increased here.

  • The Iconoclast||

    There is a pretty big difference between having some insignia on your breast-pocket and wearing a god damned bag over your head.

  • ||

    It should be obvious that insignias are the least uniform parts, attached to uniforms. // One difference ("bag") is greater uniformity.

  • Fk Censorship||

    I think you don't yet understand women. In most cases, security freedom by a whole lot.

  • Fk Censorship||

    I tried to include a (greater than) sign between security and freedom but it was not published. I hope this clarifies my comment.

  • Tuan Jim||

    Wearing it during a citizenship ceremony - like wearing it for a drivers license picture - is somewhat different than just day to day use. Banning it for official ceremonies (including court appearances, etc) would appear to be more of a common sense ID issue than anything else. It's largely a validation matter - heaven forbid a non-related male ever see her face.

    The one issue I've never actually seen anything written about is what happens to folks who generally wear the burkha, niqab, etc if they go to jail/prison/etc in a western country. Presumably they're not allowed to wear it there either for the same ID/safety issues - regardless of whether there are male guards or not.

  • Aloysious||

    Recommended reading

    Last issue of the quarterly magazine dealt with fashion through history. Not precisely dealing with the niqab or the burqa, but I found it interesting nevertheless.

  • fuckyougotmine||

    "Yes, some women choose the niqab, and to chide them as suffering from theological Stockholm Syndrome may be unfair and patronizing"

    Pretty much. You're goddamned libertarians, you should support the right of any adult to wear whatever the fuck, niqab, spacesuit, soupstrainer on their heads.

  • fuckyougotmine||

    "Though we may unequivocally support the right of individuals to make wrong choices, we also reserve the right to criticize such decisions"

    They don't give a fuck what you think.

  • Sevo||

    fuckyougotmine|12.12.15 @ 3:30PM|#
    "Pretty much. You're goddamned libertarians, you should support the right of any adult to wear whatever the fuck, niqab, spacesuit, soupstrainer on their heads."

    You're a fucking lefty ignoramus; no, there is nothing in libertarianism that means anyone should support anything like that at all.
    Did your brains leak out when you sat down at the keyboard, fuckface?

  • fuckyougotmine||

    "fuckface" ahahah

  • Sevo||

    Gee, found your moniker, did I, fuckface?

  • Agent Cupcake||

    If I were Muslim, I would troll the hell out of everyone I saw. I would wear a bright pink burka, or one with an image of a naked woman on it. I would say I "forgot" my hajab if someone was scandalized by the sight of my rockin' 1970s Farrah Fawcett hair. I would accidentally learn to drive, run over a group of men and then shrug and say, oops you were right, women really should not drive.

    /this comment can be explained with vodka. drinking some, i mean. because I already have and you should catch up.

  • ||

    Finally a sensible attitude.

  • Harvard||

    "If I were Muslim, I....."

    Spoken like a punk who has never tasted the lash nor the stone.

  • Agent Cupcake||

    Not sure I understand where you're coming from.

  • ||

    It's pretty certain that he doesn't appreciate your spirited and entertaining comment. (That's not sarcasm.)

  • ||

    By the way, has the spirit worn off yet?

  • Agent Cupcake||

    Finally, yes.

  • You're Kidding||

    The comments here can sometimes do that to one.

    Buzzkill!

  • Hank Phillips||

    GOP infiltrator. They're really into torture and suffering... as long as no prurient interests are involved. These are the folks who joined forces with the Klan to pass the Prohibition Amendment in 1917.

  • The Iconoclast||

    Are women choosing to wear the niqab or are they being forced to by the men in their vicinity? If it's truly voluntary then fine, let them, I guess. But what if they are being forced, and if you ask them they say they're not, out of fear, etc? Can we support a ban then, or do we try to get in the middle of that, or what?

  • Silelen||

    "The more covered women are, the less equality they have, and this is quantifiable." This is, quite frankly, stupid. The obvious end to this statement is that a naked woman is the most equal woman. I realize that Powell doesn't mean that, but it's reflective of the tone of the rest of the article. There are, I'm certain, many women who are essentially forced to wear niqab and that is a limit on individuality and equality and is morally problematic for a libertarian (and a feminist). On the other hand, it is paternalistic to say that a woman who chooses to only allow people to access her mind, not her appearance, is inherently unequal to men is stupid. If I never let anyone see me and only interact with people online, and refuse to post pictures of myself, I'm not less equal than other people. I'm just less visible.

    I do, by the way, see that he clearly says he doesn't support a government ban on niqab. Good. Now, can we for a moment assume that a woman who has made a choice, un-coerced or forced, has made that choice for a reason? And that perhaps that reason doesn't make her inherently unequal? To assume otherwise is to assume that women, by dint of their sex, can't make a decision you don't like for good reasons. That's the definition of sexism.

    None of this is simple. This article wants to make issues of sex, equality, religion and culture simple. They aren't. This thinking isn't up to the standard I expect of Reason.

  • Sevo||

    "Now, can we for a moment assume that a woman who has made a choice, un-coerced or forced, has made that choice for a reason? And that perhaps that reason doesn't make her inherently unequal"

    We could, but it would be a real stretch. Did you see the unicorn over there?

  • ||

    "Did you see the unicorn over there?" Not this again. Sevo, only you see the unicorn.

    Silelen: "Now, can we for a moment assume that a woman who has made a choice, un-coerced or forced, has made that choice for a reason? And that perhaps that reason doesn't make her inherently unequal?"

    Do you consider that choice submission?

  • Sevo||

    Sevens, I'm sure you're here because other sites got sick of your sophistry and ran you off. I did already.

  • ||

    Sevo, using yourself as evidence is not that convincing. 1) You were sick to begin with. 2) You see a unicorn. 3) You're not presentable.

  • Sevo||

    Keep dancing, Sevens. It's fun to watch imbeciles boogy.

  • Cytotoxic||

    "On the other hand, it is paternalistic to say that a woman who chooses to only allow people to access her mind, not her appearance, is inherently unequal to men is stupid. "

    Facial expressions are a key part of communication ie sharing our minds.

  • You're Kidding||

    "Facial expressions are a key part of communication ie sharing our minds."

    Along with tone and inflection. A rather big weakness of non-spoken, lack of visual clue communication as we are having here.

    I do worry about the generation growing up in the day and age of the internet and cell phones.

    How on earth will they ever develop social skills that have taken humans a hundred thousand years to develop?

  • Sevo||

    Looks like a real collection of apologists for Muslim female headgear, of maybe just some tulpa-level sophistry, but not a lot of dealing with what was written and what is obvious fact:

    Fact: Females are second-class citizens in traditional Muslim culture. Even in the supposedly 'modern' Saudi Arabia, "Every Saudi woman must have a male guardian, normally a father or a husband, who is tasked with making a range of critical decisions. And even when permission from a guardian is not mandatory some officials still ask for it "because current practice assumes women have no power to make their own decisions" over medical procedures or discharge from hospital."
    "Saudi women treated like children, says human rights group" http://www.theguardian.com/wor.....ia.gender.
    (Hey, Sevens! Define "equality"!)

    Written: "Philosophically, I am against state bans of this sort, but that's only one part of the discussion (albeit arguably the most important part from a libertarian perspective)"

    I don't think this is hard to grasp, and regardless of fuckyou's idiotic statement, there is nothing in libertarian thought to suggest libertarians support silly religious dogma expressed in any manner at all.

  • classical liberal||

    "there is nothing in libertarian thought to suggest libertarians support silly religious dogma expressed in any manner at all."

    Exactly! Because individual freedom only means the freedoms approved by the committee. People just can choose to do things that the rest of us don't approve of!

  • bluecanarybythelightswitch||

    What the actual fuck is wrong with this place, now? Seriously, Moslems get mentioned and the comments section turns into goddamn Salon. There is NOTHING in libertarian thought to suggest libertarians SUPPORT silly religious dogma - operative word: SUPPORT. Being a libertarian would mean not wanting the government to use force to stop idiotic women from putting that garbage on their face, it doesn't mean indulging cultural-marxist multicultural bullshit about being 'accepting.' Fuck that. Fuck men who make their women wear those things. Pity the poor women who are terrified by their screwy culture into putting up with that shit. Fuck banning stupid headgear. Fuck the headgear. Go to Hell. All praise to Woden. Happy Yule, bitches.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Holy Christ this. Where the fuck did these people come from?

  • You're Kidding||

    Well, there was an egg and a sperm...........................

  • Hank Phillips||

    I am not required to help the superstitious enforce moronic laws that violate the rights of individuals, or help send military-age youngsters out to blow people up. For those reasons I vote libertarian; conservative republicans can do their own damn killing. They'll get no help or sympathy from me.

  • Johnimo||

    Will we now have drivers' licenses with pictures of the womens' faces obscured by the niqab? I can just hear the bouncer, "You don't look old enough to come in for a drink ..... oh..... I forgot.... muslims aren't supposed to drink any alcohol anyway." Just imagine the court case. I can hardly wait.

    Will men show up at the license bureau with a face covering. Will we issue passports with no visible face, just a set of eyeballs? What a crock!

  • classical liberal||

    Well personally, I don't see the legitimacy in driver's licenses in the first place...or forcing people to pay for the public road in the first place. But if the state forces the "public" to pay for it anyway, I see no reason why anyone in the "public" should have to be licensed to use the "public roads".

    Besides, the scary people who drive drunk or otherwise get their license suspended seem to always get caught later driving without a license, which seems to nullify the whole point of the DMV...

  • MSimon||

    If it becomes legal I'm going to get a license picture as a cross dresser.

  • MSimon||

    It should be legal for me as I'm a trans trans lesbian.

  • Hank Phillips||

    This may not be as bad as you imagine. Anyone pushing "its" way into an identification bureau wearing a facerag in Texas has about as much chance of not getting shot as a brown teenager in Ferguson or Cleveland.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Speaking as probably the most hard-core Libertarian I know, what I object to in this scenario is the citizenship ceremony. Nobody should have to go through an obedience ritual to obtain permission to reside in a particular location.

    If the person has complied with the qualifications for obtaining this state-granted fiction of "citizenship", then the state should simply acknowledge that they will call the person in question a citizen.

    -jcr

  • classical liberal||

    JCR, we're having a discussion on what things women should and shouldn't be allowed to wear at a silly party put on by the state. Stop trying to question the legitimacy of that party and get back to the main discussion!

  • Sevo||

    classical liberal|12.12.15 @ 9:23PM|#
    "JCR, we're having a discussion on what things women should and shouldn't be allowed to wear at a silly party put on by the state"

    No one here is; you're hearing voices in your head.

  • classical liberal||

    From the first paragraph of this article:

    "The election sideshow that captivated me most centered on whether a Muslim immigrant from Pakistan, Zunera Ishaq, should wear a niqab during her citizenship ceremony (a niqab is face covering that leaves only a women's eyes visible). Courts had recently struck down the government's ban on niqabs, though it only covered citizenship ceremonies."

  • Sevo||

    Yes, and no one here is defending that view. Except, I guess, the voices in you head.

  • Sevo||

    Ell, I take that back.
    Trollificus (below) is the first I've noticed supporting that.

  • MSimon||

    Nobody should have to go through an obedience ritual to obtain permission to reside in a particular location.

    I believe it is a requirement for citizenship. You know - a declaration of loyalty.

  • Undercover Libertarian||

    Asa libertarian, if they live here in the US where they have a choice (unlike some countries) and choose to wear them, then why should you care? It's freedom of choice to practice their faith as they please.

    And who are you to say that because they wear them that they are choosing to be unequal? That is your opinion, but obviously they think otherwise. I saw women with everything head scarfs to full face veils on my college campus, and they participated in everything like any other student, they were just practicing their faith as they saw fit.

    Let them practice their religion as they see fit, don't like it, then don't dress that way, as long as they are not harming anyone, and we're not in a forced country like Saudi Arabia, why should you care at all. Freedom of religion, freedom of choice, freedom of action, or else you're not a libertarian.

    /not muslim, but fairly religious so I really like protecting religious liberties because I know people who want to restrict and have tried to, aspects of my faith

  • ||

    A large number of these women may be stronger than the average person. They persevere despite considerable negative reactions to the way they dress.

  • Sir Doombringer of SexBot||

    Strict adherence to superstitious fashion requirements is a universal weakness. So no you're totally wrong, in this reality wearing these backwards costumes has no positive strength value. Also perseverance does not equal strength, most things strong or weak persevere.

    Further these women dress like assholes, because of the positive reactions they get from other assholes. Negative reactions happen when they don't follow the dress code and show too much ankle, in the form of beatings, stonings, imprisonment or death.

  • ||

    You're mistaken. First, this is restricted to US universities, which are not in a country that allows your parade of horribles. Second, these women could avoid negative reactions by isolating themselves further. They could stay at home, or entirely within their cultural circle. Yet they choose to go to university. Third, compared to people who match our standards of beauty and decorum, they do face more hardship. Fourth, weak things, compared to strong things, are less likely to perservere in the face of adversity.

    I agree that this can't be determined superficially. That also means it can't be refuted superficially. These things mean they may be stronger.

  • MSimon||

    Let them practice their religion as they see fit

    I'm against implementing or even accommodating Sharia. Likewise the preaching of death to infidels. Unless the "Death to Muslims" preaching is equally allowed.

  • Woodys mom||

    If you do not recognize the wearing of niqab by women, even when they state it is by choice, as a repressive tenet of arachic religion, then you are fucked-up. In a free society we should ensure that all members are equally free of imposed wack-a-doodle bullshit.

  • ||

    It is better that the freedom of 10 free persons be destroyed than that one person be left unfree.

  • MSimon||

    OK now I have 10 people to free.

  • Trollificus||

    "Immigration proceedings", eh?

    Did it occur to them, or perhaps it could be brought to their attention, that this is a country in which, for reasons of identification and law enforcement, we require that your face be seen, and by non-family males, too?

    Perhaps this should make them reconsider which country they wish to immigrate to, rather than insist our society change to accommodate them. Colander hat on your drivers' license? Sure. Mask over your face? No, we're not obliged to that degree of accommodation.

    As for religious freedom...there are people who claim not to believe in private property but no one suggest we're obliged to accommodate that belief. So people who desire their women to be held in purdah should consider whether a small compromise is acceptable, when weighed against whatever virtues this country possesses that drew them to immigrate in the first place.

    (yes, this is kind of a dressed up "love it or leave it" argument. *shrugs* THEY'RE the ones who want to come here. We're not recruiting them.)

  • Sevo||

    "Mask over your face? No, we're not obliged to that degree of accommodation."

    "we"?
    Got a mouse in your pocket?
    "Congress shall make no law...."

  • MSimon||

    Now the US Constitution covers Canada? Better than a Niqab.

  • Hank Phillips||

    If "This Country" did not compete with superstitious satrapies stuck in the Dark Ages to see which could pass more religious laws, we wouldn't even be worried. I recall when, before George Holy War Bush decided to invade the Deserts of Mohammed to score some oil off of the Kuwaitis, hardly anyone in America had reason to know that a Mohammedan suicide vest bomber even looked like. You had to know a second language to read accounts of what they were doing to their colonial oppressors. Republicans are the ones throbbing to send Americans with guns over there, and what goes around, comes around, just like clockwork.

  • Woodys mom||

    ^ This.
    Veiled women, even if they believe wearing the full burka is their own free choice, send out a message to all women. That message is fear. Of men.
    As I understand it, the Niqab has nothing to do with a requirement of Islamic religious rules, but everything to do with a phobia that many Moslem men have about other men looking at the face of their spouse, or girlfriend. This being the case, it represents a form of oppression of women, and a ban would have nothing to do with a loss of libertarian values. Besides, fuck em if they don't like it & leave.

  • Sevo||

    "Veiled women, even if they believe wearing the full burka is their own free choice, send out a message to all women. That message is fear. Of men."

    This is as silly as Seven's claim that it makes some women stronger. Either way, it's none of my or the government's concern.

  • ||

    Well, that's nice. So causing some diffuse "fear of men" (all of them?) is ground for intervention? How do you think that works with speech that causes fear, and psychic costs (not about fortune telling) generally?

    Let's say it is a form of submission, do you want to prohibit any kind and degree of submission? What if there are people who are happier when they submit, and knowingly choose that?
    What if a woman sacrifices her life for her child, or a husband for his family? Clearly death ends autonomy, more so than any form of partial submission. (A more common example would be parents who toil to give their children a better life.) Think of wrongfully imprisoned men, who are sentenced to death. Upon giving their word to return, are temporarily released. They choose to return in accordance with their promise. Should be prevented from returning?

    As for "fuck anyone", that's going be a great principled "libertarian" shouting match. No, you leave!!!

  • JPyrate||

    It's okay if a woman is wearing a Guy Faux mask though right ?

  • MSimon||

    Women should be subservient. Bikinis it is.

  • bassjoe||

    So....?

  • Suell||

    I have seen a not small number of niqabs worn in SF. If you go to the Tenderloin there you will definitely see a couple if you spend a small amount of time. It is a middle finger to the values of the West. I, of course, am not in favor of any bans in public, but totally support any business that refuses service to someone covering their face.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Plus it makes it easier for her man to borrow her clothes to cross-dress over that bulky suicide vest and berserker scimitar. Maybe, deep down, Houston voters were worried about Saracen blackamoor cross-dressers blowing up the men's rooms last election.

  • Nativist, Racist & Xenophobe||

    WTF does equality have to do with liberty? I seem to remember a time when libertarians recognized the two concepts as mutually exclusive.

  • ||

    Narveson/Sterba, Are Liberty and Equality Compatible? - For and Against, Cambridge UP, 2010.

  • Eman||

    theyre not a priori mutually exclusive, they just, in reality, always are. what is or should be equal is our freedom, but what you do with it is up to you.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Where did all these morons come from and why can't they discern between supporting a ban on niqabs and being against the niqab? Oh man I hope the average libertarian is smarter than this.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    I don't give a fuck what these bitches wear. I only give a fuck if they want me to pay for them if they are not employable.

    As long as they aren't reaching into my wallet, no skin off my ass.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Maybe some of those oppressed and frightened girls are "choosing" to not be stoned to death. The revelers in Paris and the bureaucrats in San Bernardino certainly didn't expect the Saracen to enforce Sharia law on them, that far from the 11th Century Holy Land...

  • SimonJester||

    something something blame the victim something something

  • Azathoth!!||

    The problem is that there is only the illusion of choice.

    Women do not veil themselves naturally.

    Women wear the hijab, the niqab, the burkha, because there are consequences for failing to do so.

  • HenryC||

    I know several Muslim women who swear up and down that they are treated less like sex objects and more like a person when wearing the veil. How true this is is up to question, but it is possible.

  • Fun at Parties||

    This belongs here: http://i.imgur.com/GAurf9G.png

  • Jason Vick||

    Muslim women
    who cover their faces relegate themselves to second-class citizenship

  • Brian Combs||

    shallots

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