Raybon Kan on the burqa

Raybon Kan writes:

I’m no fan of the . It’s subjugation. A woman whose face is covered, is like a document with all the words blacked out.

A woman in a burqa has been redacted from society. A burqa says, don’t look. Nothing to see here. Her identity is unimportant.

Her smile, her frown, all her expressions, are on the cutting-room floor. (God knows how she’s meant to eat, or drink.)

And don’t get me started on other forms of cutting.

And when this burqa silhouette is out and about, at the mall, on the street, what message do her children receive, unable to see her face?

The message is power and identity – and she has none of it. A woman in a burqa likely isn’t voting, and damn sure isn’t running for office.

She is generic. No wonder her husband can have more than one wife. How to tell the wives apart anyway, their faces covered? Do burqas have a licence plate?

Faces are incredibly important. People who work in CGI have an expression: the uncanny valley. That’s when they try to make a photo-real face, but it’s unconvincing.

Because we know faces. We know faces so well, a huge amount of the time, we feel bad we can’t remember names.

The burqa is medieval. And like medieval plumbing and medieval medicine, it’s out of date. Like women not owning property, not going to school, or not leaving home without male guardians, the burqa contradicts basic human rights.

Of course, basic human rights, is a recent concept. But air travel and YouTube have given us time travel. Medieval people are time-travelling into the 21st century, leap-frogging centuries of liberal progress, and they find our ways shocking.

The burqa isn’t some post-feminist freedom from a bad hair day. It’s a mistake we made to get here.

That is a good argument – that a burqa is used to remove identity from women.

I don’t support banning it, but I don’t think we should see the burqa as empowering for anyone.

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