In my last post, I talked about the intolerance I received as a youth and young adult over my clothing. Briefly, I caught a lot of grief from people because I still wanted to wear a baseball jacket when I was eleven and for growing my hair long when I got out of the marines. While it wasn’t as severe as the grief I got for my hair, I also caught a lot of intolerance over my chosen footwear, my Native American moccasin boots. The experience left me feeling rather bitter in many ways and kick started my angry young man phase, whose peak was reached the first year I came to Great Britain.
One good thing, if you want to call it that, arose from all that intolerance. It made me learn to be more tolerant towards others, especially in the realm of clothing. For many years, this tolerance wasn’t tested much but recently, with all the talk about women’s dress and Islam over the past few years, that tolerance has been tested a lot more and it hasn’t always been easy.
First, let me join in the burka debate. Like so many well meant Westerners, I thought that this item of clothing was a means of suppression. I will agree that in some sects of Islam, it is. My eyes were opened quite a few years back when I was supply teaching at a school not far away. The school secretary was a Muslim woman in full burka. I have to admit, my personal stereotypes here had me around the edges until the woman initiated a conversation with me. After about 0.3 seconds of conversion with her, I realised that there was an actual person under the clothing and any prejudices I had rapidly vanished. So, I don’t think the burka should be banned, after all, it’s only an item of clothing and if a woman really wants to wear it, men have no right to object.
To head off some of those who are now flexing their typing fingers in response, I am the first person to acknowledge that their are Muslim men who want all women to cover up and if they had the power, would ban the mini skirt. I too was a little incensed when I read about gangs of Muslim men patrolling the streets of East London, calling themselves a Sharia patrol and ordering women to cover up. Furthermore, I have never agreed that a woman is asking for sex just because she chooses to wear such and item of clothing. She too has a right to wear what she wants and that even includes a woman who wears a mini skirt whom some men think she doesn’t have ‘the legs to wear one.’ That shouldn’t matter.
Maybe the Mormons are on to something here. Many of them claim that a woman can be beautiful without having to either hide it or flaunt it. A point to ponder here.
I think that the French shot themselves in the foot recently when officials at a beach banned a woman because she was wearing a burkini. When she was kicked off the beach, along with her children, I seriously doubt that she went home and changed into a bikini or even a one piece swimming costume and returned. No, she will probably never go to the beach again and that’s not fair for her. So France, I think you need to have a rethink on that one. While I don’t ever recall seeing a burkini, I would have no problem if I did see one.
Maybe because I was brought up seeing them that I’m used to it but while a woman should have the right to wear the burkini, she also has the right to wear a bikini. Yes, the more religious will claim that she is showing herself like a piece of meat but I don’t see it that way. I just see a woman wearing the necessary clothing to have a swim.
Now, I know that I have been mainly talking about women with religious views to clothing here but that has been the area wear my tolerance has been tested. For too many years, men of all persuations have been trying too hard to dictate to women what they should wear. I think that people have the right to wear what they like and that even includes men who like to wear dresses. It doesn’t effect my life so who the hell am I to judge. The same goes for body piercings, hair cuts or anything else that person fancies. I will endeavour to be tolerant of it because I have felt what it is like to suffer intolerance because of it.
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